Dear No One,
It has been almost four years since I first wrote to you. I was too shy to add in a photo of my face and the font the editors had chosen for the layout made my name barely legible. I liked the anonymity of it all. It was easier to pour my heart out on a page without having to face judgement from others. Growing up in a small town and being berated and bullied for not quite fitting in there had made me afraid of who I was. My looks, my voice, my facial expressions, my grades, my art, my accent, my ethnicity. Nothing was quite right, or even remotely good enough. After years of hearing all these things, I had internalised those comments to the point of self-hatred. Even when I was writing that first column, I did not allow myself to just be myself; making self-deprecating jokes, making fun of my cultural heritage, feeling unsure of my intelligence. Unlearning all these beliefs and habits was a tedious and arduous process, as was the journey of learning to love myself. I am positive that I would never have made it to where I am now, in a place of self acceptance and self-love. As I am about to graduate from International Studies, I wanted to write to you one more time, and leave you (and the future IS students) with three wishes. Three things I hope you will establish throughout your IS career.
During your time in IS I hope you will:
- Explore your passions. During my first year in IS I spent a lot of time participating in all sorts of activities. Though I ended up having to drop some in order to maintain a sense of stability (and a personal life), I’m so happy I partook in all of them. International Studies provided me with a kind, open-minded environment which allowed me to explore my interests and parts of myself which I never knew existed. It helped me realise that those awful beliefs I had internalised weren’t even true in the slightest, it encouraged me to find new beliefs that made me a lot happier, and it gave me the room to build more skills in the fields I was passionate about. I hope you will be able to explore new parts of yourself in IS and break free from unhealthy habits and other people’s expectations.
- Meet new people. I am 100% certain that I would not have made it through this journey without my incredible friends. In university, I met a lot of new people. I connected with a few early on, and we’ve been close friends ever since. I am so proud of these amazing individuals who have gone after their dreams. They are phenomenally hard-working, ridiculously intelligent, and incredibly kind. Over these past four years they have supported me without expecting anything in return, they have listened to my qualms without judgement, and they have loved me unconditionally. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for our friendship. I hope that you will get out there (when the pandemic has ended) and meet new people. I hope you will be as lucky as I was and make some close friends.
- Know that things will turn out alright. I hope you know that you can face some difficult times in your studies. A bad breakup, failing a course, seasonal depression, anxiety, illness; the list goes on. Please know that it is okay to admit that you’re going through a rough time. There are student psychologists who can support you and offer you healthy ways to deal with these situations. There is no shame in getting the help you need. Studying IS has helped me realise the importance of mental health. Working through some pains and aches, I feel that I have grown into a stronger person. I have complete faith that you will be able to work through any hardships that could come your way.
When I wrote my first column, all these years ago, I never expected it to grow into the staple it has become. I also never expected I would grow with it to become the head of layout, and later Editor-in-chief of BAISmag.
Thank you for all these opportunities.
Thank you for reading my work.
Thank you, for learning and growing with me.
Love, forever and always,
P.S. I named the column Dear No One, as I never expected anybody to read it. But I wrote the columns, keeping in mind that somebody might need it. 😉
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