A Letter to my Recent-Graduate Self

Dear Andrea,

Congrats on finally finishing your double bachelor’s degree in France! So… I’ve got some good and bad news for you. The good news is that your drive and thirst to discover the world will push you to move twice in one year. You will leave the old and cold French city of Lyon to a tiny tropical island on the other side of the world for an incredibly promising internship, to the modern, intercultural and fast-paced city of sunny Barcelona for a master’s degree.

The bad news, you ask? Well, your expectations are too high, and your priorities are all messed up. Working for one of the largest intergovernmental organizations in the Pacific islands and participating in United Nations and European Union-funded programs as an intern will not easily open the doors you expect to be opened with a breeze. Meeting renowned government officials and politicians doesn’t mean as much as you think it does. It doesn’t mean anything actually. But it’s OK, there are more important things in life.

Oh, and Barcelona? You know that dreamy inter-cultural European city with beaches and mountains where diversity means everyone is accepted? Well, that doesn’t exist, not exactly. Right now, you think globalization can only have a positive impact on society, but Barcelona will teach you otherwise. What was once a culturally rich city with its unique identity within Spain, filled with fishermen, Spanish guitars, old gothic cafés, and cheap yet quality Spanish tapas, is now being bombarded with Vegan Fast Food Bars with English-written menu’s, McDonald’s everywhere, and overpriced coffee shops with Americanized names and tacky decor. Life-long residents are being kicked out of their homes so that rich, foreign international businessmen can take over the city center. Gentrification everywhere. At first, you will love to walk and try to guess every language you hear on the street. But you will shortly start to crave hearing locals speak their native tongue, wondering where the hell this community’s identity has gone.

Now, I know you’re excited about the master’s program. And you should be! You’ll learn so much from it. But don’t get too hyped about it. Expecting a job from your social science studies… Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. Everyone has higher studies these days and speaks several languages, which frankly makes these attributes of yours less valuable to society. What actually counts is experience.

You will go through two heartbreaks in one year, although you haven’t experienced one since you were 17. So beware! And be careful. I know you have the right to go crazy after a heartbreak, but people are seriously willing to take advantage of emotionally unstable girls out there. But you’re a big girl, you’ll get through it. And you will live more within a year than you have in 7 years. You’ll feel like staying single forever to protect your heart. But you don’t decide how life goes. Life decides for you. And when you least expect it, you will fall in love again.

Oh, and by the way, a global pandemic is about to happen. And you will be quarantined away from your family and friends, with the guy you just met but will fall in love with.

My advice to you is: stop giving so much importance to your future, the role you think you want to fill, the box you think you want to fit into. Thinking big right now is going to tear you apart with stress and anxiety. Before thinking about your label, your title, and your accomplishments according to capitalism – prioritize your growth. Plant little seeds where your heart feels curiosity. Make time to foster new hobbies that will keep you company when no one is around. Stop intaking so much information, and produce something. Make something, anything! Dance, write, draw. Even if you’re bad at it, if it makes you happy, make time for it.

Stop worrying about your future because once you get the job you think you love, you will have much less time for yourself. We work to live, not live to work. So live, live, live. Think of your life and happiness day by day because all you got is this moment. Cherish the moment in life you are in because you won’t get it again.

Sincerely,

Your 2020 self

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