Isa’s Note: I met Gina one Saturday evening a few months ago. We did some karaoke (she sings better than she believes she can), ate my friend’s amazing cookie dough balls and shared a few hours’ worth of laughs. Though she is someone I have yet to get to know better, I can tell you that Gina is incredibly intelligent, warm-hearted and all-around awesome. She is currently taking up her law degree in the University of the Philippines.
Thanks for being amazing, Gina!
Hey, fourteen-year-old-me, guess what? You did turn out to be the serious kind, but still
maybe kind of funny… ish? Don’t beat yourself up about feeling like you’re in the wrong
century; chances are you will feel older than your peers for most of your life or at least until they catch up with you (that is the sound of moral ascendancy, by the way. You will be a sucker for it). Fourteen-year–old-me is probably in the midst of reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales Volume I, but take a break from ye old English for five minutes. My attempt to give you vague, somewhat useful, and downright sentimental notes on what to do and what to expect could be interesting. If not, I’m sure Morgoth enslaving all those elves can perk you up right after. Here goes. Try not to laugh.
Love thy grandmother back as grandly as she loves you now. At this second, she is
probably sitting at her desk editing her book; the distance of three feet is easily traversed
whenever an embrace is necessary. All affection is necessary when it comes to her. No
hesitations, no second-guessing.
Read voraciously, hungrily, and with a passion. Finish that Gabriel Garcia Marquez book
you started a year ago; your life will be better for it. You will never feel alone from now on.
Don’t avoid mirrors. It’s pretty tough out there, especially since everybody is coming out
of his or her own puberty stage and you’re still figuring out what to do with your hands. Yes, people judge you on how you look and will continue to judge you based on that, but the best piece of advice I ever got out of a magazine (Surprise! There is wisdom in your sister’s girly magazines, just maybe hold off on Cosmo for a couple more years) is that beauty means being comfortable in your own skin. Take the uneven proportion of your body, take the pear-shape, the child-bearing hips, the zits on your chin and the acne on your back, take that face you see on every reflective surface, yes the very same one that refuses eye contact, and own it. It’s all yours. It defines you and limits you, but at the same time, it holds something far more essential and affecting than what can be seen: it holds you.
You who are far too intelligent to be rumormongering with girls your age, you who can sense bullshit one minute into any conversation, youwho can discuss Middle-earth genealogy and whether or not Samwise Gamgee should have eaten the lembas bread at great length, you who knows–you know that you are more. As the ghost of your future self, I have come to affirm that stinking suspicion which keeps you up at night: that there is more for you and more to you. So take that advice and runaway with it. Stay true to yourself and you will remain solid when faced with tribulation because sorry fourteen-year-oldme, there will be those in the future too. You will take issue about how you look for many years to come. It’s normal and natural to do so, but steady yourself against the onslaught of objectification. You are more than the sum of your body parts, and that knowledge will protect you just as it ravages everyone around you. Keep a level-head and you will be fine.
Never be ashamed of what you love. Be it a film genre, a TV show, a person, or
something as abstract as metropolitan Grecian art theory. Love it with abandon because it stirs something in your soul. As you get older, there will be fewer things that will excite you. Try to cultivate that love and sustain the wonder you derive from it.
That said, let’s get to what you probably really want to read about. There will be boys,
guys, and men, and not necessarily in that order. Some of them will surprise you, some will stay for years, a couple of them will come and go as they please. Don’t panic. Think of it as fodder for your future novel. Besides, I guarantee you it will all be funny in retrospect.
There will be missed connections, sad smiles from old lovers you pass by on the street, a moment in a book shop, and the love you’re waiting for and will wait for no matter what. You will be frightened, confused, and defensive at first, and the firsts won’t always be the best. The reassurance of continuity, of a second time is what matters. Be fearless, fourteen-year-old-me. Nothing will prepare you for a broken heart. You will feel like an amputee with your phantom pains, and the truth is, it will never leave you. You will write about your sadness many times, but in that space you’ve allotted for fallibility, you will discover many things about yourself: what you want versus what you deserve, what needs to be said, when to say it, and most frighteningly perhaps, you will learn that this is not the end: you will fall in love again, but this time, you’ll be seeing through clearer eyes. And perhaps this falling in love thing will go on and on until you meet that one person who is your equal, someone you respect and admire, someone you are so comfortable with, you no longer are afraid of the shoe that will eventually need to drop. You will let yourself be happy, take the bad with the good, and finally understand that what’s worth
keeping is worth threshing out in detail, breaking in, and rebuilding every day.
Remember, Alanis Morissette has and always will be your friend. She will help you
navigate through these awkward and unfulfilling relationships like the goddess she truly is. She has known loss and desolation and you worship her for her resilience. So when she tells you “I’m in no hurry; I could wait forever/ I’m in no rush ‘cause I like being solo,” you better make her proud. In a couple of years, you will come across Leslie Feist who will ask what was it that made you think your boy could become the man who could make you sure he was the one, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The point I’m trying to make is that the romantic in me (us) can and will hold out for a very, very long time because we believe in that almost mythical Someone. Our Someone will come along, and all that waiting will be justified.
On a final note, I’d like to be honest with you. At age twenty-four, you haven’t gotten
even a quart of it figured out. You’re okay though. You have friends and family who’ve got your back and an incontrovertible sense of humor to keep you sane. There will be nights when you’ll want to jump off a bridge, but it’s always just temporary despair (your despair will range from large issues i.e. neo-fascism, pervasive devices of male oppression, your crushing inability to commit to veganism, to small things like why isn’t there a collective noun for squids) rather than an actual desire to end your life. Self-harm is not your style, nor will it ever be. You’re a fighter, through and through, so fight fourteen-year-old-me. Fight and you’ll always get what you want.
Oh, and buy hair mousse. Those babies will change your life.