Once upon a daydream, in a now not so far away, lived a me—an idle me—who loved telling tales, tales of an us that didn't quite exist. But here we can, as the tides stand still. Snapsnots of my mind as time passes. Hopefully this flies, Vic.
Dear 30 Year-Old Me,
For as long as I can remember, you are someone I believed I would never meet. While I could fathom the shoes I was meant to fill in, I didn’t quite imagine myself wearing them at your age, let alone living past 25. It’s no secret that you’ve always felt alone. You’ve been surrounded—smothered, even—by those who claim to love you. And while their affections vary depending on the nature of their relationship with you, you’ve never quite found what you needed.
I don’t know if you can recall of what it’s like being 22:
It’s 2014. You’re an aspiring Molecular Biologist. And it’s (of what I hope to be) your first of many years in the City of Montréal. You’re no stranger to a big city—after all, growing up in Dubai made you somewhat biased to life in an urban setting. But for the first time in a while, you were truly what you always deemed yourself to be: alone. No friends. No family. No frivolous paramours.
And it didn’t really help that you knew nothing beyond pipetting at the lab bench. You were, in your eyes, worthless.
Quite the dismal picture I’ve painted, I know. Not quite the “real-life fairy tale” you described it to be when you first visited. But that was your relative reality in the beginning of 2014. Fortunately, your 22nd year of life extended well beyond January, and your experiences in those months-to-come etched a novel sense of identity while fostering a somewhat-foreseeable future.
You were able to find new friends, that too in the most unlikely of people. Your friendship with "Mikey-Mike Michael", the first and most important on that list, started out on the wrong foot. I think it was the first time since moving that you had truly stood up for what you believed in, and who you were. In your characteristic foot-in-the-mouth manner, of course. “You of all people should know better,” you reprimanded, “You’re Jewish!” After which you both bonded over your mutual foot-in-the-mouthsy-ness and longing to get full-out drunk every day after work.
Speaking of work, remember when a failed PCR used to fluster you? Let’s recap what was achieved by the end of your term in Eric’s lab.
You were able to accrue a handful of Molecular Biology skills—qRTs, Westerns, the infamous FISH, clonings (fucking clonings!)—in addition to others you deemed yourself incapable to grasp: Bioinformatics, anyone? While in the beginning, you believed you had nothing to give, you soon learnt that your expertise in Photoshop was held in high regard in an imaging lab that had little-to-none. Especially Julie. The integration of your scientific, artistic, and technological skills was what brought the results for her project to fruition. As well as that goddamn thesis that took you eons to write! But point being, at the end of it, you got it done. And you were able to move on to the next phase of your career: getting a research position in Reproductive Biology.
Slowly, but surely, you were moving up the food chain in the world of scientific academia, networking and collaborating with biologists in your field of interest and others. One such biologist was Miss Marie, a kindred soul who became not only a trusted friend, but also that mentor you long wished for. Marie reinstated the principle of working hard and partying equally so, while teaching you that communication is key in a research environment.
And more importantly, in your relationships.
In the Summer of 2014, you met a young urban planner named Paul. He made your head spin, your heart race, and your lips quiver. Technically, he was also your first boyfriend. And while I’m certain you’ve forgotten most of this—okay, I jest, you probably haven’t—I need you to remember what he meant. Paul was the first person you were able to be truly intimate with, in every sense of the word. For the first time, you were able to bare not just your flesh, but also your soul. And it wasn’t forced. And it wasn’t just bliss that you shared. There was also darkness—that gaping emptiness that caused you to withdraw yourself from the world in fear of never being understood.
Paul saw this. Paul understood this. Paul accepted this.
Paul made you feel not alone. By making you feel safe. To be yourself.
And while months later, your romance ended amicably on mutual terms, I need you to remember what you felt, ever-so-uncomfortably, right after: hope. At first it seemed quite unexpected, for it wasn’t one to rekindle the flame. Rather, it was a hope that you would be fine, ending up where you wanted to be. In writing this letter, it’s clear how this hope came to be.
I’m wishing this hope is still a salient part of your life. Friends and lovers will have come and gone, but make sure that our dreams still stay. Let them grow, if they must. Give them time! Tell yourself that they will be realised. That children’s book/graphic novel, your twins, and the female kitten all rely on this.
As do I.
A Hopeful You at 22.
"The final stage of finding your superhero name is accepting how little difference it really makes. Okay, there’s the thing you can do, a thing you can do like no other person on the planet. That makes you special, but being special doesn’t really mean anything. You will still have to get dressed in the morning. Your shoelaces still break. Your lover will still leave you if you don’t treat her right."
"Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more."