Letters to Myself (Part I)

I’m… kind of back. I think. I hope to write more after about a year of “hiatus”. Also, yes, this will be that kind of post—the kind where I write a letter to myself. I have been contemplating whether I will go through with this or not since there are still drafts of posts that I haven’t done writing about. However, I somehow gravitate toward this series, even when I’m unsure as ever if I should write it. I guess I’m aiming for the possible catharsis and healing properties often associated with this kind of post. I would understand if the series would not feel relatable to you, but I hope you’ll stay tuned in for the series regardless. Anyway, here goes nothing. The first part of this series will be dedicated to my 10-year-old self. Here’s looking at you, kid. I guess.

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Dear… me.

I’m you. 15 years ahead from where you currently are in the timeline. I’m writing to you as a thought experiment I imposed on myself to see if I could… I don’t know, heal my inner child? Maybe talk to you to understand and remember what you, well we, went through? Although as I’m writing this to you, I’m still not certain how I can do it on my own. I guess this would be a good place to start before I let my thoughts and feelings loose to a professional. Plus, I don’t know if I should use just “you” or “we” when talking to you. I guess both, right? Depending on what I want to say to you. I am you. Just further along the way.

I’m trying to remember who we were, where we were, and how we were. You being 10 means that we’re in the 4th grade. We just transferred to a new school. There was an incident during 3rd grade, right? Well, we didn’t think of it as an incident back then. We thought you were just playing with our friend. At the time, we didn’t understand that the incident was the reason we transferred schools. Don’t worry, Mom will explain it to you in years to come because we just found out the reason way after. I can only imagine what our life would be like if that incident didn’t happen to us, how different life might be, and the pathways of life that we will never take. However, that’s for me to ponder. You’re not there yet, you shouldn’t think of it yet. You should focus on being a 10-year-old in a new school with new friends, new teachers, new environment. I could safely say we would have quite a blast at the new school. We’re still ruing that we lost our shot at football because we got transferred to the new school, though. What could’ve been?

We were struggling with music. Well, not music per se. We were — and still are, really — still struggling with being diligent and having persistence. Our main struggle was piano practice. Every piano practice was hell, wasn’t it? That scheduled 30-minute to 1-hour time of the day our parents made us do was just unbearable, wasn’t it? The posturing of sitting down and hands, the warm-ups of scales and short pieces, and just the thought that we would have to do the warm-ups for 10 minutes at least. 10 minutes that felt like, well, an eternity. I remember us enjoying the practice sessions when it comes to playing the song. Some of the pieces were very enjoyable to play and beautiful to listen to. Well, when played correctly of course. We have this thing where we spam notes if we make a mistake, don’t we? After note spamming comes anger and frustration that we didn’t manage to play that piece perfectly from start to finish, always slipping somehow. For someone that is pretty reckless and has a tendency to overlook details, we were surprisingly acting as the perfectionist when it comes to playing piano, dare I say we’re quite the perfectionist when it comes to music. Maybe because music is our primary and somewhat sole art form because this attitude stays with us when practicing choir or during guitar practice. Yes, Mom and Dad will finally let us practice the guitar. You have to wait about 3 more years for that, though. Fun fact, we’re still in the choir. Puberty did us two favors when it comes to singing: we now sing at bass and I can still belt out higher tones for rock purposes thanks to you being a boy soprano. Go us.

Oh. I said that we had quite a blast at the new school, didn’t I? Well, it has its problems, as all things do. There was one thing that I guess bothered us during our time at that school and I’m sorry that I have to spoil it for you when you just finished your first semester there. Maybe you were not that bothered about it at the time because you were 10 and you just thought of it as school ground jokes and banter. You know who I’m talking about and what she constantly said about us. Let me present you with a realization. That was bullying and technically it was racism. You’ll learn what racism means later in life and trust me you’ll need to for you to realize what a horrible thing it was that happened to us. At the time it didn’t put us off. We weren’t insecure about it, we just brushed it off. Yet I do remember we were slightly troubled by it. When I realized what it was that we went through, it was like the anger that we should’ve felt and shown finally kicked in. She would go on to keep doing that until we graduate from that school. I know we endured and it was good for us at the time that we didn’t fully realize what it was. Spoiler alert, nobody will ever do that to us again. We’re doing better.

I guess with this letter I should tell you that Mom is still ill, going on almost 2 decades battling with her illness. She has her ups and downs as usual, but she’s managing even with all the new stuff she’s having. I realize that we didn’t really think much of it. The times that we did think of Mom’s illness is when Dad is away on his business trips. We were 10 and it was obviously scary to be left alone with Mom when we didn’t understand what to do when she was in pain. It was — and still, sort of is — Dad’s thing to remember all her medications and histories. I’m still learning day by day to know what to do or understand what’s going on. It would be too harsh to call you selfish at your point in time since you never really thought that much and that well about Mom’s illness, but again, we were a 10-year-old kid. Our life revolved around having fun as a kid. I’ve forgiven ourselves for it. I think Mom and Dad understood too at the time, but of course, they would’ve liked it if we were more involved somehow. As I said, I’m trying to do better.

What else do I want to write to you about? You’re 10, after all. I guess this is all I can muster for now. You should enjoy being a 10-year-old boy, first and foremost. You’ll do fine. All the paths that you will take will lead you to… me. I don’t sound optimistic, do I? But believe me, I wouldn’t trade any paths that we took, everything that happened to us, all the good and bad. It made us into who we are now. We’re doing well. Not the best, but well. I know we’d appreciate that. After all, I am you.

— PA

PS. If you find some of the words I use difficult, do consult the dictionary. We always do that. Nerd.

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Thank you for reading, trust no one, and see you in the next post.

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Patrick Aditya Sitanggang

Bachelor's degree in International Relations from Universitas Indonesia. Football. Cars. Pop culture. Current affairs. Personal rants. Random thoughts.