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If I could go back in time, what would I tell my younger self?

It was night. I was standing in the doorway to the balcony that overlooked the beach and my university. I had been staring at the dark, moonlit ocean for almost an hour. I couldn't sleep, my mind was filled with flashbacks about Malaysia as I thought about how I would not have an experience like that in my life again. It has been seven years since that night. This is what I would tell myself, if I could go back to that moment knowing all I know now.

You are in pain. A lot of it. You have just been through something amazing and you don't want it to end. You want to experience that thrill again, of being somewhere new with new people. You want to be free, to do whatever spontaneous thing that comes to your head. But you don't know how or even if you will ever be able to do that again. I can tell you now that you will. You will travel and experience more than you could ever imagine.

But to find that, you will move far away to a place that is very different. Getting there alone will be hell and things will be even harder once you get there. Don't give up. It will take you a while and you will feel like giving up almost every day. I know how frustrating it is to keep trying and failing, when giving up seems to be the best for your tired spirit. But eventually, you will figure it out and you will be glad that you kept trying.

Speaking of failure, I know that you have a tendency to take every setback too personally. You always felt like a loser, unable to reach the high standards that our parents set for us and the high standards that we set for ourselves. I know that many of things you tried didn't work the way you wanted them to and that you were embarrassed and humiliated. But berating yourself by saying "I will never achieve anything" or "Why bothering trying" will not help. Sure, failure and disappointment hurts. But you don't have to hurt yourself even more.

In fact, if only one sentence of this letter actually makes it to you, I hope it is the sentence before this one. I know that you like to beat yourself up. A lot. But you don't have to. It's funny how our brains get adjusted to being a certain way and after beating ourselves up for most of our life, misery seems to be the state that our brains crave to be in. Happiness and hope feels out of place. Almost ominous in a way. But don't be afraid to let yourself feel happy and content. Make the most of those fleeting moments where nothing else matters except whatever you are doing right now.

I hate to say it but the problems that you have already about friendships and romance will continue. Actually, it will get a lot worse once you move to that far away place and have to start over. I know that you feel like no one really cares about you. But that is just not true and you will only drive people away by believing that. People do care but you have to let them. I know that you are waiting for someone to come and save you but it just doesn't work that way. You have to go to them. You have to put yourself on the spot and ask for help and people will help.

As for romance, yeesh, you have a lot of work to do because you are going about it in completely the wrong way. First, you approach it expecting failure from the start. Don't do that. I know that all those rejections hurt but bracing yourself for only rejection will not work. Instead, just focus on having a great time and if someone is right for you, it will feel better and better with them. Then you have to take the plunge with more than words and it will be scary as hell. I wish there was a way to make it less scary but I haven't found one. You got to take that leap of faith and then keep taking them as you grow closer to a person. It will shake you to your core and you might feel so small and weak. But this is what is needed to really give yourself to another person.

I know that all of this is maybe too much to take in at once so take a break, come back to it later. Which brings me to the last thing that I want to tell you that is that it all takes time. I know that you are impatient and want everything to happen right now. But most things will probably take much longer than you expect. That doesn't mean that you will not be able to get what you want. Only that it will take longer. So just keep trying. You will be fine.

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