Dear 17 year-old me,
How are you? Not feeling too good, I suppose?
I could tell you that things will get better, but you wouldn’t believe me.
Seems like you’re finding it hard to trust anyone these days, as you feel like no one understands you or what you’re going through. You’re also feeling ugly and alone.
I could lie to you, but I won’t, as the years ahead will be difficult ones.
The coming 12 months will be tough. Your parents will discover something about you that you’ve been struggling with for some time, the same thing that you’ve been trying to hide from them and everyone else. You know what I am speaking of, for it is also in my mind.
I can tell you that things will get worse, before they start to improve a little.
There will be unpleasant experiences in National Service which you would rather forget, but there will also be people who will believe in you. Those experiences will give you confidence in your abilities in years to come, and those people are really the ones who matter.
You will have lots of opportunities, so treasure them.
Feed the wanderlust, get away from the familiar, learn to be independent, satisfy your curiosity, try something different, and meet new people.
You will learn so much from being a teenager.
You will grow into your twenties an intelligent, sensitive yet confident young person, sometimes a little annoying, bitchy and arrogant, but always passionate and caring.
The things you do will mean a lot to you.
You will enter your thirties an emotionally mature person, having learnt to be patient, humble and forgiving, but still caring enough to make a difference.
The things you do will mean a lot to others.
You will survive. You will get through all this. And you will thrive.
Your 37 year-old self,
* * *
An edited version of this letter (inspired by The Big Issue) and other photos are included in a photography exhibition called “Our Very Own Stories”, which is part of the IndigNation 2012 season celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender community’s multi-facetedness in Singapore.