Dear Seventeen-Year-Old Self

Dear seventeen-year-old-self,


The world has not stopped spinning in the days leading up to our birthday, but it has begun to spin even faster. Events that are quite out of your future hands (I’m sure!) have been set into motion that I have no power over either.

Soon you’ll be worrying about college applications. About your extended essay. About learning to drive. Your first kiss. Whether or not that latest poem was just right or not enough. Of that mound of homework in the corner you’re subconsciously and consciously dreading and purposely pushing aside while you read The Secret History again for the hundredth time.

All perfectly reasonable worries, of course.

Honestly, I can’t wait to be you.

I know that I’m supposed to regret growing up, to miss my childhood days, but honestly, I revel in growing up. To be taken more seriously by those older than you and to be looked up to by those younger than us. To having more freedom and the unconditional trust of our parents to make our own choices. I’m sure you’re doing wonderfully well, albeit stressing out slightly over exams and etc. (that, I do not envy you.) Remember to treasure every moment— it’s not every day you get to be seventeen (although you will for the next 365 days!).

But the most important thing that you need to remember is to be happy— but not necessarily content.

Be happy with the work you’ve managed to do, but not contented with it. There’s still a whole world out there to be explored. Don’t settle with being happy. Be hungry, ravenous for knowledge in all its forms. Go out, experience new things, & make friends with new people. Never be happy with just one book, go and write five more!

Go on, show the world what you’re made of.


Love, the hellion that was your sixteen-year-old-self.

(P.S: Happy birthday! May each year be more lovely than the next!)





Kwan Ann TanKwan Ann Tan
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Germ Magazine guest author
… is a contributing guest author for Germ, which means the following criteria (and then some) have been met: possessor of a fresh, original voice; creator of fresh, original content; genius storyteller; superlative speller; fantastic dancer; expert joke teller; handy with a toolbox; brilliant at parties; loves us as much as we love them.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.