A Letter to My Teenage Self




Dear Teenage me,

I wish I could tell you this in person, but the transience of your existence has restricted me to the pages of a book. I wish you could look directly into my aging eyes and see the joys falling out as tears and the regrets cowering therein. You see, tears are words that died in the heart before they could be birthed as speech, and I hope you will forgive me for words left unsaid.

Years have tarried and left, but memories are constantly raised  from the remnants of what once was. I could remember when you spoke convincingly about the future morrow, about the things you'd do within and without. Teenagehood bestowed you with the ability to see beyond your present; that's imagination. But I must say, dear teen, that the certainty your mind harboured at the time was far from true clarity.

I must confess that life is not as smooth as you had imagined, and that sometimes I cringe at some of the choices you made. But do not perceive this differently, for it does not mean that I have attained perfection myself. In fact, I am still very far from it. And just so you may know, my weaknesses sometimes reach a point where I desperately wish for that same clarity you had. That same NAÏVE clarity with which you planned my life. Our life. And, this, dear teen, is a inkling of how confused one can get living here on earth.

You may not get the full picture of what it's been like or what it is like. Even at this moment, I have done some things that a future us will never approve of or believe I could do. However, it's happened, and thinking back at how we judged and thought and talked about other people who did certain things, I realized that we were not fair. And, although we may not know, they really tried with what they had. After all, no one knows where the shoe pinches, but he who wears it.

Do not infer from my statements, dear teen, that every bad decision is justified. No. But my time here has taught me that it is of great reward to help people realize their mistakes. More rewardable than this is to do it from a place of love and not from a place of anger, disgust or pride. We both know that the ability to make error-free decisions in the face of difficulties is an art no one can master.

Dear teen, I think it is important to note here that it is not my intention to paint life black, stark black. To be honest, life is a cascade of colours and I have made rainbows out of it. I still have more rainbows to make and I'm sure you'll be proud of my paintings. After all, I am a smarter, older and wiser version of you.

Let me state now what a pleasure it has been to know you, dear teen. As I write this, I think fondly of your exploits, your ritual of renewing your goals impromptu, your undaunted drive for success. I thank you for your dutifulness, your thoughtfulness, your faithfulness, and for the work that you have undertaken in my absence.

You may wonder why I delayed this till this moment. But I know very well how smug you can get, dear teen, even if it is for a brief moment. I fear that your complacency will turn my words infrasonic. Moreover, the last thing I want to do is to place a teenager above himself. Trust me, I have witnessed the havoc it wreaks.

Till we meet again, dear teen.

Your future self,
Akinyemi Abdulmalik.

Read also: A letter to my future self





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