Dear 15 years old me…

I wish I could change the path you are walking on right now, wish I could tell you what to avoid and what not, but like I understood time traveling from watching too much science fiction series and movies, I know that if I could and did, I would change my own present and I really want to avoid that, because I’m writing you to bring you wonderful news. I’m on the path of fulfilling our dreams, not all of them of course, but I’m still trying very hard and believe it or not, right now I’m in Mexico doing my year abroad and in exactly ten days we will turn 25. So yes, everything is going to turn out just fine. Not perfect, but our life was never perfect, was it? But that is not the reason I’m writing you. I think it is kind of ironically that in one year you are going to write a letter to the 18 years old us and I, turning 25 soon am writing a letter to you.

No, the reason I’m writing you, is because I finally found out, who you are, who we are. Maybe who is the wrong word right now? Let’s say instead: I know now what we are. What you are and what I need to focus on the next years to again become. I wish we would have found out soon, but who knows if the impact of the realization would be as big for us if it seems on this present day. Believe me if I tell you, that you are perfectly fine the way you are. Embrace what you are, ignore everything else and focus on what you are. Stop thinking that there is something wrong with you, because you don’t belong. Continue searching for answers to questions, nobody wants to know the answers to anymore. Continue enjoy every book you land your hands on. I’m not reading that much anymore as you are doing right now. Staying awake because sleeping means minutes away from this one book? Being sleep deprived the next morning, but so happy because you know the answers, the end of the book. Being annoyed because it didn’t end the way you wanted, too abruptly, leaving you with too many unanswerable questions. I miss those days, this feeling. I miss always having a book in my hands, walking the streets with my nose in a book and random people on the street warning me about holes in the ground, the red traffic lights, or making fun of me because they think that I will run into a lantern sooner or later. I miss our parents not having an understanding of the 12 years old us for crying when something bad happens in our books. I miss so much I neglected because I was too much concerned with the ideals of society. I’m sorry. Forgive me, I will work on that and get our ideals, our sweet spots back without apologizing for them. I will get the best features of you back, thank God I know how. I know you are wondering what exactly I am talking about. I am talking about you feeling like an outsider to society, not fitting in to your generation, loving being alone and enjoying school and getting good grades without lifting a finger. I am talking about our parents and the person they want you to become (no, I still don’t care about their vision of our future and they kind of accepted that their word doesn’t mean anything when it comes to decisions), I’m referring to the ideals of society I tried to reach, only to discover that it is very exhausting to smile, to small talk my way into a conversation. I’m talking about on me giving up on us, for becoming something I can’t name because I was tired being called “strange” because I was tired to not fit in anywhere and still standing out. I was tired of being labeled with phrases. I was tired of being labeled. I’m sorry I betrayed you in so many occasions, I’m sorry I lied about you, about us, about the character that makes you and me us. I’m sorry. I will do better from now on. It is not like I had a revelation in the night, coming out of nowhere. I read a book. Don’t laugh. I know it sounds like a wonder but given my past and your present, that is not really a surprise, is it? And because we believe that there is nothing like “coincidences” and that everything happens for a reason. The book I read, I picked it out in Germany, before coming here, but I didn’t read it through. Life happened, exams, preparations for this year abroad, work and so much more. There is a time for everything, right? So here I was, sitting in a university, which has to keep their students working, every day, every minute and so they have something called “pasión de la lit eratura” where you can gain points by reading a book. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Reading for points. If we could gain life points for it, how many do you think would we have collected with I think a current account of over 200 books we own, without the ones we rented from the library, before buying our owns? So here I was again and when my professor named the title of the book, I was thinking: “I have this book. I started reading this book. I have this book at home.”, quietly cursing me for not taking it with me when I selected the 5 books I brought here. But everything happens for a reason, right? Because after buying the book and laying it down, our little brother, who is kind of not a douchebag anymore, I mean he still is, but not that annoying anymore as he is with you right now, told me about a book called “How to win friends and influence people”. He had it as an audiobook but I still prefer reading a book, so I bought it. Without him I wouldn’t know who Dave Carnegie was and maybe because I didn’t know on the first run of reading the book, I missed some points and couldn’t connect the dots and see what she was writing about and what her point is.

Second, I have a Russian girl from Balingen as one of my roomies, who used to study in Reutlingen and after not liking each other for the first weeks, we really became closer and she really left an impression on me. We started talking one late night about something and ended up speaking about someone called Jung who first defined introversion and extroversion. What are the odds?

So, what is this book about? And how come it leads me to write this letter? When I first opened the book, for a second time and started reading, I was pretty sure that I didn’t after all read this book. Nothing in the beginning gave me the feeling of ever read those lines, until she began with the story of Dave Carnegie. It’s not an important one, but I remembered it and was shocked about the fact that I over read the beginning without any realization or revelations about myself. How that could be? I don’t know, but again, everything happens for a reason and there is a time for everything. And so it is now that I should discover the fact about what we are. What this book is about? Let me draw you a sketch.

The world we live in is developing into a loud, noisy one sounded scream that we are so allergic against. Human made sounds about nothing, faster and faster spinning Mary go around, with the same song over and over again. And we are all supposed to go on board, to get used the monotony of it, the same view and the same level, scream, enjoy the boring ride and laugh as we have never had so much fun in our lives. But some of us can’t. You and I can’t. We are afraid of heights, so we stay on the ground, trying to smile, to convince us before the beep for the next round, that we can do it. Fear of heights can be battled. It’s all in our head. I abandoned you and tried some rounds, but the height really got to me but because I didn’t want to go off, out of fear to lose the game, to be humiliated, to be laughed at, like the people on the Mary go around tend to do not realizing that we could hear them. So I closed my eyes for many rounds. I couldn’t see you anymore and also not the direction we were heading, and with my eyes closed, I started to disappear, bit by bit. The noises made me sicker and sicker, I was repulsive to everything I heard. Phrases with no meaning and the superficiality around me turned my stomach. I was sick during the whole ride but resisted to stay. Now I know, that I don’t belong there. I belong on the ground. With you. With all the others, who don’t think that this Mary go around is fulfilling them with the joy it should.?! I reached the limit of my rubber but still tried desperately to bend it a limit more. And I did. The results were not pretty.

Extroversion versus introversion. How could we have known? The answer was so simple and still so hard to find. You recently started asking yourself how you could be your parents daughter. I still don’t know the answer to that question. We have nothing in common. So the questions are still the same ones. Are we the result of our parents? What do you think? You still live there. One thing is clear, they are the reason for us being us. Did they drive us into introversion, finally achieving the complete opposite of what they wanted? If you and I are the result of our parents, how come Tim is not like you and me? He doesn’t love being alone. He is always running around doing something with his friends. How come? He started recently asking himself questions you and I asked ourselves years ago. He recommended me a book to become a better version of my extrovert personality. Our answers to the same questions are different. He loves making fast decisions, while I think too long. So maybe we are not the result of our parents and they didn’t drive us into introversion and shutting ourselves out from the world. So we were born this way? And circumstances and everything that happened and still will happen to you, didn’t give us the time we needed to discover this? Yes, in the African culture it really doesn’t matter, no one will treat you with extra care because you are an introvert. We all have our roles and duties which need to be fulfilled. Self-development is not the most important thing in that matter. So maybe our culture is at fault? But then how did I come so far without having the benefits other do? Don’t worry, even with my eyes closed, I have become a better version of you. Sometimes I asked myself if only on the outside though.

Loud, direct, straight forward, strange, hypocritical, slow, too fast, impressive, boring, insensitive, queen of secrets… are only a few of things I’ve heard about myself, leaving out the insults.

When I started this major, I had a friend next door. A Lebanese girl, tall, long beautiful hair and gorgeous. A loud person. Just like us. But too fast. In class she always had to say something even when it was wrong. When we met new people, it was all about her. When it was boys, it never crossed her mind that they stopped or invited us for drinks, because they were interested in me. And sometimes, when they were talking, I stopped listening, because I knew all her stories already. Anecdotes about how men see her, how people reacted when they saw her. Let the light shine on her. I didn’t have to talk about those topics all over again. So my mind drifted off, I became silent. But she didn’t know how to handle the real me. She expected me to laugh with them, talk about topics I really didn’t want to talk about. Not ever. The most annoying thing was that she expected me to adapt to her, but that was just impossible. I explained to her, that friendship between two so different people like us meant to create a world for us, in which we both could live in, breathe perfectly fine and enjoy each other’s company, without suffering each other. We stopped talking for nearly one year. She must have seen some truth in my words because when we started talking again, I forgot why and how it came to that point, she started compromising. When I left the party earlier to go home and sleep or something else. When I started cancelling last minute because I wasn’t in the mood for clubs, she didn’t say anything. She accepted that I wasn’t there make her shine more, or compliment her on how bright her light is.

In the book, the author also writes about Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt. How come a quiet almost unnoticeable woman like Rosa Parks got the courage to stand up one day and demand for her rights, her place in this world? There are no coincidences. The world is what it is, thanks to introverts. You and I are not shy, we have enough courage to move a mountain, but we are dispersed all over the place. But I have found the first piece of the puzzle. The first corner piece to set us back together. I’m not round. I love being a square and still am fighting for not letting random people form me to a circle, cutting aand filing my corners. They are useful.

Yes, we will meet people who will stay with us, with the weird, strange girl, whose soul is too old for her generation. But yes they are some people coming your way, who like you for your first impression. For the loud, outgoing girl you seem to be, you will give them your energy to make them whole again, feel good about themselves again, but don’t be disappointed when they leave you for something better, more exiting, more fast living. I won’t be anymore. I will tell people right from the start, that I’m not the person I think I am. I am not a party mouse. I am not an always loud, direct and straight forward person. I’m not the girl who spends her whole money on weekends and like talking about celebrities. I don’t think women magazines have anything to do with literature and actually will help improve myself. I don’t get those magazines anyway. I tried to get them and gave up after 1 month reading about white people’s hair, the perfect look for the red carpet or whatever. I’m not the girl they think I am. I am boring, funnily stupid and too sarcastic for my own good. I am too many things they are not. My world was built with bricks and not with sand. I painted it myself and didn’t let some other people paint it. I named the streets, the houses, the towns and the countries have never told and heard stories. My jungles are deep, dark and full with animals I formed myself. My oceans are turquois with beautiful beaches and I decide the time. The nights are warm and the moon can be touched on some days. You can walk on my waters and drink them. There are only a few people who have seen this world, hiked with me to the highest mountains, swam with me to the middle of the ocean to realize, that you can stand. Only a few people who live in it, on some continents, doing who knows what. But all of them are aware that the days can be dark, the night sky burning, the waves dangerous, and the ground unstable. They know who we are and that my world is my world. They know that they don’t have to be careful while walking around, but they know, that times change. Where winds cut people, water turns read and the sun hides itself from coming out.

I know I haven’t said much. But I want you to catch up to me, 10 years later and you will start to understand on the way. Bit by bit. I just wanted to let you know, that I know who we are. What you are and be the person to tell you that we are perfectly fine the way we are. I will start on working on myself while taking back all the things I neglected. I now see. We will be fine. Keep on fighting because without you, I’m nothing.

Don’t believe the labels people give you. Always remind yourself from now on, that I’m on the same ship again and that I know who we are. And that I will do my best to improve. Not to fit into this world, but to create our happy place in this world. If people don’t get you, it’s ok. After all, they don’t know us. They don’t know our history. They don’t know what monsters we battled. If they underestimate you, don’t start proving them wrong. It’s not your job. Your job is to keep on fighting. Mine, from today on, is to revive us and form us. If your future roommates gang up against you, it doesn’t matter. They don’t get you. They don’t want to get you. They don’t want to understand who we are. People who have a picture of our world but don’t want to take the step in to experience it richness are not the people who will enrich it and help us become the best version of us. It is ok. You are ok. We are.

Yours forever,  Jacquie

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