An Email to My 18-Year-Old Self
By: Candice Zhang
Dear 18-Year-Old Candice,
I know this isn’t a long time ago. In fact, I’m just calling you back from a year in the future. A year separated with dread, loneliness, rebellion, but most importantly, growth. 12- months, 365 days, of nonstop hope to cease pursuing a career in fashion and switching over to journalism or media.
In a year or so, believe it or not, the world will be hit with something unexpected. For the first few weeks, it would feel like an apocalypse. Zombies aren’t attacking or destroying your home, but rather, a deadly virus has seemingly replaced them. This deadly virus will soon be nicknamed after the year it was found, and soon will penetrate the world’s economy, shaking it to the core.
Well, listen. I know you really don’t bite into the fruit of world politics, but perhaps, you should take some advice from me.
Realize that your dream of becoming a makeup artist or fashion stylist is far from the world’s plan, given to you. You’re meant for something so much better, and indeed, I believe if you listened to me right now, you can realize that the path you thought was correct, was indeed far from the one you’re capable of. So, don’t waste your precious time hitting the ‘apply’ button and writing resumes for makeup jobs. As ridiculous as it sounds, you wouldn’t get a position since you simply weren’t meant for it.
In a few months, you’ll find yourself working at a theatre, being the only makeup artist there. The actresses will ask you to share a room with them, and only 1% of that space is dedicated to you and your equipment. Frustrated and angry, you’re determined and motivated to listen to your heart and to succeed in such a demanding career.
But the people tell you otherwise. On the last day of performance, the crew forgets about you and you are left there, alone. Without any treat, compliment, or friendship. Yet, you’re continuously motivated to achieve that stupid goal, so you keep on fighting the demons that stop you.
The friendship created between you and your former makeup instructor will first be embraced, but you cannot hold onto the phenomenon any longer. Soon, you’ll open your eyes to see the mysterious tactics, hidden beneath her superficial beliefs. Knowing this is the case, you’ll get up as soon as possible and log onto social media, to remove her from your existing contact list.
And you realize, you simply were meant for another route. Something even better that will truly showcase the character the world crafted for you. A career - where you don’t contemplate about the raging storm but search for the gold hidden underneath the rainbows. A world, where you learn from your mistakes and embrace your missteps.
I’ve mentioned that career earlier but throughout a year, you’ll also learn the injustices of this world. You will witness the Black Lives Matter movement, and observe how systematic barriers continuously exist. The empathetic nature of your heart will allow you to reach out to friends who are affected by the situation and to develop a re-existing relationship.
From then on, you’ll realize how unjust the world is. But most importantly, you’ll realize the systematic barriers in your chosen career as well. After a leap of faith and a change of events, you’ll then travel in a new career destination, and I promise you, the decision you’ll make will definitely be better.
My apologies for the long email, Candice. Throughout this time, please enjoy your 19th birthday and please please don’t hang out with those two guys you met at the skatepark. You’ll thank me later. And the rest of the events, it’s a lesson in itself.