A Letter To 19-Year-Old Me

  • Post category:Self

You’re 19, waiting to start university.
I’m 23, in my final undergraduate semester.

Dearest you,

On academics

Landscape view of school

You did well for your A’levels, and you’ve managed to stay in the top class throughout primary, secondary school, and junior college. Congrats!

However, university is a whole different ball game altogether. You’re gonna struggle with your academics at times, and your grades won’t be as stellar anymore. On several occasions, you will feel mediocre, especially for computing modules.

You will also realise that sometimes, your effort put in does not translate into good results. Despite spending countless hours on a module, you end up with a grade you’re not satisfied with, and you wished you could “SU” them. That sucks, but the truth is that your grades are determined by many factors outside of your control.

You will have several episodes of emotional breakdown when trying to complete an assignment or project, due to overwhelming stress levels.

Spoiler alert: You cried thrice for CS2040 because you were worried you couldn’t beat Kattis by the end of the day. You then wonder if you’re really fit for computing …

But hey, you got through, thanks to incredible peers who helped you magnanimously, who you can call true friends a few years later when you graduate. They offered you a helping hand whenever you asked, even if your question may seem trivial and ridiculously simple in retrospect. We couldn’t have done it alone, so appreciate everyone who helped you! You then learnt to give back when you became a senior student and juniors asked you for help.

In short, keep that learning spirit alive!

On friendships

Beautiful pink sky!

Frankly speaking, when it comes to friendships, not all was rosy. You lost a couple of friends whom you loved dearly. You experienced “friendship heartbreak” and wished that you could turn back time and undo your actions. But you can’t and you learnt to move on instead. You stopped being obsessed with things like “who is the one to blame?”, “who’s fault is it?” and “did I do something wrong?”. The best way forward would be to allow yourself permission to close chapters and look ahead. On the bright side, I’d tell you that I have a few close friends that I treasure loads today!

In general, you will meet people of various backgrounds in university. They may lead very different lives and think very differently from you. You prioritized academics first as a student, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone around you. At first, you would judge, but later on, you learn to hold space for differences and respected them. You shake off the need to find “like-minded” people everywhere you went and gradually welcome unique perspectives instead.

On sense of community

Cute aikido stickers!

Surprise, you actually tried martial arts instead of continuing ODAC activities! Remember, rejection is redirection.

Spoiler alert: You found your community in aikido! You grew to love the art of aikido, and the people whom it brought into your life 😀

On relationships, with others and self

A wall of encouragement post-it notes!

It’s common to hear of people finding their significant others in university (or school in general). So you held high hopes when you first entered university. Maybe a special someone will magically appear in your life, you’d be sitting next to each other in a tutorial class, coincidentally lock eyes in a lecture theatre, or bump into each other while rushing for class.

Spoiler alert: None of that happened 😂

What did happen, however, is that you learnt to be more comfortable with your own self. You grew to love your own company, be it eating meals, taking a walk, or wandering around places. (By the way, you love to people-watch while eating out!) It’s pretty empowering when you understand that you don’t need anyone to want to do the same things as you, for you to actually do it!

You will learn to love yourself more after shaking off the “hidden burden” that you have to act a certain way, especially as a female, sister, or daughter. You will grow into your own person, filled with more confidence and compassion. You will stand more firmly by your own values, which prevents other people’s opinions (aka noise) from “clouding” yours. Even today, I am still a work in progress!

Ending Note

I know you’re looking forward to university, and you will definitely have your very own unique experience there! Studies are important, but I hope you also find the time to find yourself. Question everything, be more open-minded, and embrace everything that comes your way! Keep learning!

Lots of Love,