Dear Younger Self,
By Dilshani Palugaswewa
Although you turned out to be the best possible version of you or rather, better than expected, I can safely say that I am proud of how far you’ve come. Only bone I have to pick perhaps is how I may have turned a blind eye, unwittingly, to have a perception on the world drastically different than it really was.
Like, would you have wanted a more accurate view of the world?
Looking back, I just wish I was more enlightened on the real world and the real problems. A world not so rosy and beautiful as you were made to believe, in fact it’s one enveloped in self-preservation and contamination.
Growing up, I felt somewhat betrayed to see a world of worries and mass affliction and astonished at how it moved forward regardless, as if nothing was there to say or do, when half the people occupying it had never experienced what it felt like to be safe from worry.
Famine, wars, poor health, and poverty ravaged communities and children dealt with death in their faces, when you turned off the lights and cuddled a teddy goodnight. I shrivel at the thought that somewhere on another side of existence, someone found comfort in a brick to sleep off exhaustion while you demanded two pillows to have on either side.
Visually impaired people lived almost their whole life without seeing their loved ones, some never found out what the sky looked like or what their appearance was, and you, threw mini tantrums when you felt the clothes that were picked out for you were mismatched or not trendy enough.
I wish you knew that not all parents out in the world could put a smile on their child’s face – not because they didn’t try but because they were incapacitated. They had absolutely no way of providing for their families because they were destitute.
I know it’s unfair for me to blame you for being handed the better end of the stick, but I can’t help but wonder – what if I knew back then, would it have made you more sensitive to other people’s situations and pushed to make an effort to talk off the worries of people you encountered along the way?
Would you have not refused to share your lunch with the boy who sat in class during lunch break while all the others ate and played outside or could you have made a difference to the girl who approached only you to make sand turtles with, in the playground because for some reason she saw you as a ray of light in her days of darkness. It’s hard to say, but maybe you would have understood that not everyone has a physical scar or band-aid to notify people of their pain, and instead of medicine they needed a familiar face to hold their hand and make them smile.
Apart from that If I could have reached out to you to impart what I have learnt over time as an adult, I would have told you that your worries are not completely unfounded, like you were told.
But I definitely would have told you to gain perspective – zoom out a little from the pressure you are eating yourself up bit by bit by focusing solely on. I would have told you to look around, because your problem is as tiny as this island-nation on the world map –a tiny spec in the larger scale of things. Nevertheless, you’ve got a problem and the right time to deal with it is in the immediate aftermath. Don’t let your wounds fester in the comfort of society’s ‘norm’, regardless of what ‘they’ might think. If you need help get it, if you need guidance ask, and if you have made a wrong turn, you can always steer the wheel to rectify your mistake.
Your worries and your constant fear on most occasions were valid and would indeed not be negotiable in a world that would eventually consume you for not acting sooner. You are only as good as your sanity, so fix the problem if you have one because otherwise it will catch up to you and engulf you in a storm you don’t quite know to weather past.
Most importantly though, things do get better and your voice does matter.
I guess, all grown up