Dear Past Me,

you’re safe now. You’re not lonely, you have a lot of friends who love you as much or more than your family. You’ve built a life for yourself that allows you to grow and connect. You do have a long way to go with all you want to achieve and while you may think that you’re slow af in reaching your goals, let me assure you that you’re on track with all of them. Maybe just cut down a little bit on procrastination, as it can only help you in the long run.

Yes, you still laugh the way you used to laugh when you were little. Most things are still a lot more enjoyable to you when your family is around, only that you’ve changed what the term family means to you. Your nose still turns red when you cry and yes, you still don’t make a single sound whenever you do shed tears. It’s neither as frequent nor as painful as it must have been for you throughout the years. In fact, you barely have a reason to cry at all nowadays. You laugh full-heartedly, you like the way the sun feels on your skin, you like hugs. You even go for walks, on your own, without any appointments lingering on the other end of the walk. You thoroughly enjoy your company and that of others. I know how scared you used to be of others, trust me. You’ve also learned that we all get a little bit anxious or sad or angry sometimes and that it's better to take care of yourself then. Dancing it out, writing it down and having a good night's sleep before settling on negative thoughts is the way to go but try tidying your desk before doing all of this. You still like your creative mess as it helps you connect a lot of dots but starting with a clean slate (= desk) is also quite the nice thing. It also makes for better portraits and less stressful spontaneous visits from friends.
You still love drawing, office supplies / stationary, reading, libraries, buying more books than you have space for, listening to music and going to the cinema. You did have to quit playing the guitar and piano because of your tendons but you'll get to learn how to play again some time in the future, step by step, beyond your favorite chord. I'll make sure of it (I'll try getting you that guitar you always wanted to have, just bear with me).
A lot of healthy coping strategies have found their way into your life. You actually do keep up the sketchbook thing. You know, that thing you failed doing in your teens, this diary keeping? Just like you’re able to keep plants alive now, you stick to what you say you’ll be doing. Changing your mind doesn’t mean you’ve messed up, it means you’re learning. Growth can come in the weirdest forms, disguised as humans, books, music or experiences that don’t need any word at all. At times, you still avoid tough talks or tough love for the sake of (false) harmony. Learn from this and be and become even better, you know you can.

Trust me, you didn’t have to disappear, you never did. You can forgive yourself for all the things you felt you weren’t enough for. You felt left out the day you started going to kindergarten to the day you finally met your first proper set of friends in grade eleven. We all like being seen for all that we are and we are allowed to mourn for the memories we couldn't make when we were kids. It makes you who you are and you've turned out just fine not because of but despite your upbringing.
Some things take time and you’ve proven that you have patience beyond belief. You’ve survived the grief of a lot of people close to you dying, just like you’ve survived wanting to die yourself for a long time. I’m very glad you’ve stopped wanting this five years ago, by the way.
You've survived a lot of things others may not have, considering the amount of "a lot of things." There's a lot of strength in vulnerability and openness, it fuels your way of connecting with people but damn, do you love a good laugh in between heaviness. Generally speaking, you like laughing a lot.
You’ve crawled out of emotional shitholes and worked hard on your self, mental health and the way you perceive the world. It’s not a dangerous place to you anymore, you’d rather do your bit to change it for the better, document it, record its quirks and good sides, all while being aware of the work that needs to be done to make it a good one for all of us.

I look forward to what you’re going to achieve in the next thirty years, you badass.

With love and a big thank you for everything,

your 32-year-old Me

P.S.: You managed to pull the whole ugly-duckling-beautiful-swan thing off without YouTube make-up tutorials, so don’t you worry about a thing. And no, you don't have to go to school reunions if you don't feel like it.