Letter to my sixteen-year-old self

Dear 16-y.o. Topher,


You are in a different country, in a very different situation. You are idealistic, ambitious, and have time to play basketball. You’ve met hundreds of people so far, from your family and beyond, from high school and other pursuits. You were an acolyte for most first Friday Masses, and said a lot of prayers, with or without your section. Since then, you’ve met more people, moved a few times, devoured hundreds more books, and watched just as many movies. If you’d known then the kind of ‘people’ you’ve met now, you wouldn’t have been so wide-eyed.



Your life could’ve taken a different turn. Could it be that you won’t have met your high school peers? You’d have a smaller extended family, that’s for sure. On the other hand, you could have stayed and avoided all this drama. Know this, young Topher: wherever you go, you can never coast. Even though you’d like to retreat into your rosy shell, we live in a challenging society; you either fight back or wallow in despair.


Everything is not all bad though. At the close of your high school stint, you showcased your skills in the yearbook, culminating with a lengthy, tribute poem to your alma mater. In the time since, you’ve had some measure of success.  Looking now at your social media posts, your triumphs speak for itself. Not long after secondary school, you garnered an 8.5 overall Band Score in the IELTS Academic. This represented a PhD-level result for someone who hadn’t even commenced uni. Last year, you published a book, your first ever. You built it up, and promoted it as best you could. In the end, your writing gives you true happiness. That’s why you will keep blogging, as this is your passion. At times, you battle writer’s block, at others, it happens easily. You push yourself through the weeks, as you get to pen your legacy. When you look back years later, you won’t remember the struggle, nor the gaps; you’ll only see the habits, the drive.




‘Some things never change’. You still love sports and movies; still devour a good book when you can. You no longer serve during Mass, but you continue attending. You’ve utilised two Macs since, and just acquired an iPhone. Your blog is mostly a review site, but you know that given the right info, you’ll write as much as you could. When you were sixteen, you watched the evening news with your family. To this day, it’s a habit you’ve kept. You’ve even evolved your pockets. Whereas before you had some underused sacs, now your wallet, iPhone, and keys are filling up your space. You’ve also evolved your fashion sense, going from baggy tops to smaller sizes, and summer denim to shorts. Nice, Topher!


While you’ve met a few good friends, the not so good people have opened your eyes. Things have not come as easily as before, and it’s something your sixteen years would not believe. We are all imparted with different talents, and go through varied challenges. Yet you believe that there are a slew of people whose problems aren’t even close to yours. At the same time, you feel grateful for what you have. There is hope, young self. If there weren’t any, all of us would choose to remain sixteen, and never grow up. Like the dawn of a new day, light will erupt and all the evildoers will cower. Deep down, I know that their antics are a front for their being terrified. I am not a seer; I am not God; I do not predict things nor do I make them happen. If you told me before that I would jump at the chance of going back to age 16, I would probably cackle at you. Yet things have a curious way of turning out, and what seemed rotten yesterday would be golden by today’s standards.


So the best advice I could give you is to live in the moment, be happy, and continue being patient. Don’t fret too much over what tomorrow holds; don’t overthink the next day’s lunch. Today is a beautiful one that the Lord has made; He has magical plans for each one of us. Live for today and forever embrace what it offers. It’s been a long time, but a worthwhile run for the most part. Knowing how you’ll battle through adversity all these years, I couldn’t stress enough for you to savour the moment. You will only have one high school graduation, one chance at sixteen, one yearbook. Hold on to your uniqueness, your confidence, and your passion when you can, because no two days are ever the same.


Love you always,


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