As I write, I lean toward retrieving memories and trying to recall them one by one. There are a lot to remember, along with the little victories and spontaneous adventures, and yet they never felt sufficient. Memories will never feel enough. Time was never enough, and as I go on, I remember not just the past or the present; I also remember you.
It was truly a brave and daring act for you to come into our lives, not knowing how terrible and cruel life can turn out to be sometimes. How valiant of you to present yourself to the world, having to face forbidding situations and, at times, having to share days with unkind hearts. It was your boldness that brought you – and that bright young heart of yours – to the surface. Yours is the kind of courage that doesn’t roar but instead, penetrates. Pierces. Infiltrates beautifully. And how beautifully you have conquered the world.
So go on and forgive yourself for waking up every single day, complaining about how heavy you have become or how wrinkles have filled your face. Forgive yourself for wishing you were that girl who gained 100 likes in just a couple of minutes, or that guy who completely has his life figured out. Let off every insecurity and begin with embracing the “you” that you are now. Listen when people say, “Love yourself,” but don’t think it comes off that easily. Loving yourself doesn’t happen in a twinkling of an eye. It’s a process of you accepting who you have become now, along with forgiving yourself of the past and allowing yourself to perceive the future.
Forgive yourself for not figuring out the pattern of answers during your examination or for not remembering the things you have studied the night before. Forgive yourself for losing people in life. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and make room for second attempts.
Keep on keeping on. You, facing another long day, clearly manifest how brave you are at life. You, pressed on with the exams, sailing through after a night of studying, eating, and studying again and the job interview you maxed with all the sincerity you could muster. You pressed on with the understanding that unkind hearts have deep wounds no one ever dared to heal, and that they, too, need to see that kind hearts are so much better.
You kept yourself together when all things around you were on the brink of falling apart. When you thought you’d never pass a subject, you did because you pressed on. When you thought you’d never see the sun rise the next day, you did because you tried. And when you tried, you gave yourself another chance. You tried, and you are trying, despite all opposition; made you even stronger than steel.
So thank yourself. Thank yourself for taking that phone call, for grabbing the lead role, for saying yes to friendships, for saying yes to waiting. Acknowledge every craft that’s been made by your bare hands, every movement your body makes. Thank yourself for being who you are and not who the world tells you to be. Celebrate every little victory—for bringing your umbrella when it rained minutes after you left the house, for saving money the whole week, for waking up to see the sunrise.
And as you continue thanking yourself, recognize that you are human. You will fall. You will crumble. You will give in. In lieu of all the things that make you human, fall gracefully. Crumble into the ground, plant yourself in, and feel yourself grow. Thank yourself for friendships that make you grow and make you know more of yourself. Thank yourself for the opportunities you relinquished for more valuable things, for saying no and not feeling bad about it. You deserve a pat on the back, a firm handshake and a light smile, for you have stood your ground. You have dug your heels in.
Remember to feel the sun on your skin. Remember the nights that turned into mornings and the mornings that celebrate your awakening. Remember that there is no other legacy fit to leave behind than your kindness toward the world and its people, and most of all, the kindness you have within and for yourself. Hark back to the nights you thought you wouldn’t cease crying but ended up making you hard-wearing. Remember that wonderful throbbing of your heart at the sight of someone, or that gleaming of your eyes at the sound of something you anticipated. Remember all the days you lost sight because of laughing too hard, all the days you worked hard, all the days that made your life more meaningful.
Forget. Forget all the ill words that stabbed your heart and pounded on your brain. Forget all the hurting and unforgiving words and actions people left, and turn your back on every intolerance. Forget the insecurities that used to build up your confidence and the mountains you’ve been carrying on your shoulders that you were only supposed to climb. Leave heartbreak of every kind and form and let it not destroy you but construct you. Leave places in which you feel you do not belong, people who hurt you and no longer care for you. Quit putting yourself down. Quit beating yourself up. This is for you.
For you, who desire to see a new beginning. For you, who desire to begin anew. This is for you who long to start things over again with a clean slate. This is for you—a eulogy to the old “you,” for eulogies do not just hold goodbye in it but also memories. The death of what’s toxic in your old self and the birth of beautiful things that make your life worth calling “life.”
Goodbye always has hello concealed within it, and as I bid farewell to painting words in black and white, I say hello to sunrises that welcome the day and sunsets that welcome the night. I say hello to the self I’ve always wanted to be and the person I’ve always longed to become. Welcome the new you with no strings attached to the past, with no guilt in your heart, but only hope that what’s in store will always be better.