A Letter To My 18 Year Old Self
I know that by this time you would have returned from your morning jog. Today will be a special day for you. You finally turned eighteen and are invigorated with an ever-flowing philanthropic spirit.
I write not in the hopes of swaying any of your future decisions. I am in a happy place now and wouldn’t wish you to take an alternate route at all. You might already be thinking of all the possible course of actions you could be taking in the coming time. While not all of your wishes will come to fruition, hereon you won’t regret any step that you take.
I am also aware that up until now, you haven’t explored your sexuality much. The idea of being physically intimate with someone makes you cringe. But do not worry, young Saransh. Your sexual quest will begin soon enough. Till now, you might have felt confused and bewildered about your feelings towards people of the same sex, especially your best friend. A warning - you are going to get hurt soon. And that is alright, young Saransh, as a kindred spirit awaits you. You will soon fall in and out of love, perhaps multiple times, but don’t lose hope. Love is a beautiful feeling and the wounds heal in no time, you will realize. The most crucial lesson that I have learnt so far is that no matter what you might have to deal with, never stop loving yourself. When you reach my age, you will transform. You will start taking pride in your queerness. You still have the option to live in denial like many queer people do, but letting go of denial would make you feel integrated, I can assure you that. I do understand that it is quite tough to be openly queer when your parents are orthodox and have rigid mentalities. But, well, with time you will learn to care less. I still don’t know if it is wise or not, but being distanced from them might give you the space you have always desired.
But dear young Saransh, being queer is not always about gleaming rainbows and glossy unicorns. With time, you will realize that being queer also entails constant questioning of what’s considered “normal” and why that norm gets privileged over other ways of being. You will be involved in life altering discussions on addressing and understanding the intersectionality between race, gender, sexuality, caste and class and how it affects each person’s experience and identity differently. This will equally benefit and enrich your understanding of queerness.
I hope you do remember that last year you were in the depth of depression. That year, you realized the importance of dissent. That year you finally took over your life and made some crucial decisions for yourself. This minute act of defiance has ignited the rebel spirit within you. In the years to come you will be in direct confrontation with patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Even though this fight is ever-exhausting, don’t give up. You will learn to fight for your own rights. You will begin to question your privileges too. Alongside this turmoil, there might be times when you will feel lonely and melancholic. If I am being honest, let me tell you - it’s not going to be easy to be queer. You will have to deal with certain mental health issues owing to the negative prejudices prevalent in our society. You will wish to either end your despairing life or renounce the world altogether. But you know what? For every dark night, there will always be a brighter day. You will outshine these hard times. You will be respected and loved. Your life will unfold in richer and happier ways, more than you have ever dared to hope.
In parting, even though I have evolved for the better, I still admire you. Your innocence and optimism defines you. In times to come, perhaps, people will adore you for that.
I hope you continue to strive for a world where everyone feels safe and accepted.
All the best,
Your much older self.
Saransh Heilige is a cis-gender queer person. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Psychology from Ambedkar University, Delhi. He aspires to work with queer individuals later in his life as a psychologist.