Letter to My 12-Year Old Self

If I could talk to my 12-year old self, here's what I would say...

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My 12-year old self

Dear Karanjoy (Baboy!)*,

You may probably not believe it or even imagine yourself ever-reaching this – but you are now 42 years old! Before you freak out and write another angst-ridden poem, let me assure you that all is well, life is good.

You now have 3 wonderful kids (aged 17, 13 and 9). You’re living life solo (yes, you’ve gotten married but separated in 2007). You’re working for a huge telco company (no it is not for a landline which we still didn’t have at your age). And you’ve just finished your first full marathon (yup, it’s so much more than the standing board jump, 100 meter dash and other Intramurals wins you now have).

I’m writing you because you are now at the throes of your teenage and growing up years, and would like to share with you some lessons that would hopefully help you get thru your ‘finding oneself years’ much faster and better.

1. You are and will be loved and well-accepted. You shouldn’t try to please others or be like others out of fear of rejection. You can and should say no – whenever you think it’s appropriate. Boys will be boys – so deal with that, fast. You have so much more to give your family, friends and even enemies than you realize.

2. Don’t sweat the popularity contest that happens in high school and college – you will come out of it ahead. And life after that is even more challenging so these pressures are not a biggie. Just be yourself, be upfront, understand where people are coming from and you’ll be fine.

3. Don’t compare yourself with others. You will learn this life lesson towards the end of high school but I’m telling you now so you can brace yourself. You’ll learn this the hard way but you will become better, more introspective, more focused on your own goals and aspirations because of this.

4. There will be disappointments and heartaches. For the most part, these will come from unmet expectations from friends, family, acquaintances, work mates and yourself. The worst of these would be the times when you disappoint yourself – when you know you could have done more, better, faster. So you should always try your best, learn fast, act honestly but also learn to forgive yourself. You are not perfect and there is merit to trying, even if you don’t always succeed as long as you learn and become better because of it.

5. Your life will be full of challenges – emotional, intellectual, spiritual, financial, physical. Your life will be like a telenovela** (ok, so that’s like Makulay na Daigdig ni Nora or Lovingly Yours, Helen*** but acted out not in one episode but daily for some 13-26 weeks, depending on the show’s popularity). But, you will learn to face these head on. Not only that, you will create your own challenges for yourself, take risks and continually strive. Status quo will bore you.

6. You will struggle to find yourself. You will change your mind on what you want to do and become so frustrated many times. You will be confused. At the end of it all, you will realize that life is about becoming, and not about arriving at a singular chosen path. And you will continue becoming yourself until you are no more.

7. Pray. Meditate. Discern. Read. Learn to quiet yourself amidst the chaos.

8. Be a life learner. Don’t just be bookish and nerdy (you never were and will never be even if you love books, but just in case!). There is more to learn in living and experiencing life than you’ll ever find in the wonderful books you read. You’ll have fun! You’ll discover a world out of Davao that will scare and awe you but you’ll eventually be comfortable in. You’ll explore new boundaries countless times. And you will learn to write your thoughts down, as you may be finding out right about now. Please keep those! Your poems, essays, stories – please keep them all safely by your side til the digital age comes when these can all be stored effortlessly.

9. Be grounded and humble. The best lessons we’ll learn from our parents is to have roots and wings. Roots to ground us to our history, traditions, and values so that we won’t deceive ourselves into believing we are more than who we are. Wings to fly and experience life on our own. You will become your own person and love it, love yourself.

10. Always pay it forward. There will be so many people who will become your mentors, confidantes, sponsors, helpers, teachers, role models – some of whom you will be very close with, while others you may not even know of. But they will all be instrumental to your growth. You may not be able to thank all of them so help out others in any way you can in return.

Ok, I think I’ve written more than I should have. You maybe getting bored now but I’m banking on your reading skills to get you thru this. There are just so many thoughts and experiences I want to share. Read this once, read this twice, and over and over.

At the end of it, I just want to say that you are one unique and incredible individual! You may not realize it now, but you are! Grin and bear the next few years – they’re the best and worst years ever. But in retrospect now, every year of our 42 years have been good!

(your 42 year old self)

* Karanjoy Baboy: One of my many childhood nicknames, just really used among us siblings. My older sister was called Bucacay, my older brother Katokpet.
** Telenovela: a television soap opera, usually of Spanish/Latin America origin popular in the Philippines, with its own local productions as well
** Makulay na Daigdig ni Nora (The Colorful Life of Nora) and Lovingly Yours, Helen are popular Philippine shows in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

About this blog: Originally written in Mar, 2013 for www.kiddiekist.com, a parenting site targeting those with children 12 years old and younger. I wrote this very early in the morning while at work during a downtime (which means no issues, everything is going as planned) of a critical project cutover (major system change) to keep myself awake and my brain functioning despite not having slept for more than 24 hours.

Originally published at www.joysantamarina.com

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