A letter to my 19-year-old self

Hi 19-year-old Eve in 2008,

I’m your 29-year-old self. I guess you’ll be surprised that I didn’t become who you want me to be. You’ve always aspired to be a glamorous, fashionable, and confident woman.

At this point you’re still devastated over the breakup with your ex-boyfriend. He’s cool and fun, but he isn’t the one. Next year you will date another boy, who’s cool and fun too. Deep in your heart, you know he also isn’t the one. Your friends who question your choice of boyfriends are right. My dear, you are so young, you don’t know what you want yet.

A few years later, you’ll slowly learn what you want in a relationship. You don’t need fun boys to spend time with, you need a real man who can grow and see the world with you. Ten years later, you’ll be dating the man that you have a crush on at 19 years old.

Love yourself, girl. Know your worth. Set your standards high. Those who want to be in your life will rise up.

With Jay, 2010

Congratulations, you’re a freshman in the best university in the country. But I know you hate your life. You hate staying with a roommate. You hate your course because your brain is wired to think and analyze, not to memorize complicated molecules. You care only about shopping, hair and boys, but the people around you are nerds. You can’t fit in.

Trust me, you’ll graduate anyway. Your roommate turns out to be your best friend in the next decade.

By now, you also start joining the Buddhist Society. Yes you’ll have lots of sleepless night organizing events and running projects. But this is the best training ground to cure your stage fright, hot temper, and impatience. You get to learn from people who are patient, kind and smart.

You also learn how to meditate. This is the best decision you’ve ever made.

Remember girl, the strength of your mind determines the quality of your life.

Just out of ICU, 2011

A few years later, a rare illness will change your life forever. You need to go for medical checkups regularly. You witness life and death in the hospitals. You will experience tormenting pains. You will be bedridden for a month. You cry everyday. Life is going to be tough.

But you’re a lucky girl. With love and strong support from your family and friends, you are going to be fine. You will stay in the ICU for a few days and your parents will come to see you everyday. Your friends will fold a thousand Swan origami to pray for your recovery. Don’t worry my dear, you have enough willpower to go through all these.

Just like any other major hurdles in life, this is the most significant pivotal moment for you.

This experience gets you into thinking, if this is the last chance that you’ll live, what will you do?

You look at your 50 pairs of shoes, 20 bags and countless pairs of earrings. Are these really what you want? Are they even important? What is the purpose of this life? How can I leave my mark as a fragile mortal?

The most beautiful things in life are not materialistic things. They’re people, places, and memories.

Learning how to use my DSLR, 2014

This year you also start to blog. You’re frustrated because you can’t even write a simple blog post with proper English. And your blog looks ugly. So you start reading hundreds of books to study grammar and vocabulary. You write down every single sentence that sounds good. You stay up late at night to learn about web designs.

Honey, I thank you for that unwavering determination and passion. You continue to grow and improve over time. Now you can write, or I should say, we can write. You start writing and writing relentlessly, for work and for yourself.

Some people will define you by your job or your academic qualifications. They say you should only focus on your scientific research. They tell you you can’t do this, you can’t do that. You can’t earn a living with “passion”. You shouldn’t waste your time writing, taking photos, or doing voluntary work.

At first you’ll trust them and hide your creative self, but you’re not happy. You like to write and take photos. Soon you realize that they’re just projecting their insecurities on you. They can’t do anything that you do, because they don’t even dare to try and expand their comfort zones.

Care less about what people say. You do you.

Travelling, 2018

I know you always feel that you’re not good enough. I just want to reassure you that you’ll be fine. And I’m VERY proud of you.

With love,

Your 29-year-old Eve, 2018