I don’t have all the answers and even with the 7-year age difference, I don’t think you should look to me for illumination. What I can do, however, is tell you things that I know to be true. Right now, you’re confused because there’s the plan. Or should I say, “The Plan,” which entails you finishing college and being a doctor. A solid plan, if I do say so myself, but it should have occurred to at least one of us to make provisions for the after, or even for the in-between. Of course, now that I think about it, the seeds of doubt have been planted long before this decision impasse. This may actually be the one instance where the usefulness of crying over spilled milk isn’t debatable.
Believe me, it surprised me too. It surprises me still. Becoming a writer is as much of a fluke as winning the lotto. Maybe not as financially rewarding, but the enrichment is just as comparable. Of the financial rewards, I can only hope that you still find the idea of pauperdom romantic, because love of the craft alone won’t be enough to sustain you. I do trust that your idealism will carry you through moments of doubt that are headed your way. I’m actually counting on it to make my job easier.
Now, enrichment. This, I think, is where things get tricky. For one thing, I’m not sure if there are even words that can help me word the spark of satisfaction that inflames me every time a story, poem, article, piece of text gets completed. Some of these will be readily dismissed by people (yourself included) as regurgitated crap, while the rest will be appreciated for their strength, message, and merit. Here is where I caution you to not treat every loss as a personal attack because writing is, if nothing, an exploration of the bittersweet and all its connotations. Rejection is part and parcel of the writing process, and out of all the insights I’m going to share with you, this is one nugget you should take note of.
Of your winnings—I can assure you, there will be winnings—I pray that you’ll give yourself permission to be happy. After all, these writings will be your saving grace. For every bout of insecurity that you’ll plague yourself with in the years to come, your winnings will be the only thing that can help you salvage what’s left of your self-esteem. I advise you to take every bit of bliss you can from your achievements, and to not forget gratitude. Acknowledge the people who take the time to read your stuff, even if said stuff can’t help but classify itself as regurgitated crap. These people will help you on your pursuit of purpose. They will help you sleep on nights when your parents’ disappointment over your chosen profession evinces; will help you survive the feelings of alienation that manifest whenever you compare yourself to your friends, established as they are in their chosen fields, raking in the money that will forever be absent in our line of work.
And lastly, please forgive me if I fail to condense seven years of experience into information that can help you make the right decision. Whether you choose to be a doctor or a writer is something that you’ll have to figure out for yourself. I trust that you’ll choose the one that makes you happy. If tomorrow I find myself still existing, I’ll know that romance has triumphed over practicality and that this letter has reached you in good condition.
One of your future selves,