I wish I had met you earlier.
Then I would have pulled you aside and told you to be brave. Don’t let the weight of someone else’s words (and everyone else’s abilities) crush you or stop you from becoming who you can be. Confidence is such a strange thing isn’t it? It takes years to build it up, but only a moment to trample it. You will be comforted to know that it is something you gain with age and wisdom.
I would have asked you to go to bed, instead of falling asleep at your desk every night, buried under the weight of your daily stresses. If you are going to learn effectively, you are going to need your sleep.
I would have told you to own up to your faults, but never let incidents define you.
I would have reminded you that everything will be fine eventually. You can afford to make a couple of “wrong” turns at eighteen. You are at the peak of your youth, and there are so many options, so many roads to take… so much future.
I would have told you I missed writing the way you do.
And that I am proud of you for giving your time generously to those who needed it.
Finally, I would have asked you to be patient. When the system you only know asks of you to go faster, to be better, to beat the rest, it is hard to fathom what slowing down would entail. Be consoled, that sometime in the near future, you will make sure to enjoy this world unreservedly. You will continue to make memories in the way you love best, in words and pictures. You will trod the roads of new territories, and soak in the cultures of their people. You will do it slowly, because there is no other way to do it.