I know you hate to be called that. They used to tease you with that name, didn’t they? You tried so hard to keep it under wraps, but it seemed like they knew, somehow, and they taunted you with your secret shame.
What day is this, New Year’s 1981? You’re sitting alone in a dorm room… not even your own dorm room, they closed your dorm for the holidays. Everyone is home on Christmas break, but you couldn’t afford to go anywhere, and now you’re sitting in that little cell with no company but the houseplant somebody gave you.
Everything feels so bleak and empty. You ache for love, for somebody to fill that void inside you, but your awkward attempts at meeting girls have left you humiliated and isolated. You’re broke, hungry and alone, and you feel yourself sliding into a pit of despair against which your only defense is a dull apathy.
And… there’s nothing I can do. I’m almost forty years in your future, looking at you through the lens of memory, and there’s nothing I can do or say that will make it any easier.
I know you make it through that break, and the breaks to follow. I know the depression and apathy wrecks your GPA, with consequences far into the future. And I know right now you don’t care, because caring hurts too much, and the futures you see for yourself bring you nothing but anxiety and fear. I know in your darkest hours, you see a future that’s very brief and followed by an end to the pain.
Oh, beautiful baby girl! You were such a sad and shy creature, hardly able to look yourself in the face, much less anybody else, because the face in the mirror was neither the man you tried to be nor the woman you truly are. And your wonderful multicolored mind was tying itself in knots trying to deny everything you knew deep down to be true.
And I know you wished that your future self would invent a time machine and come back and explain everything to you, and I’m sorry to report that I am no closer to creating such a device now than you were back then.
You are loved, much more than you know. Within a few months, that cute grad student in the front office will ask you out, and she’s going to alleviate your loneliness in ways both cerebral and deliciously physical. You will drop out of college, eventually, but you’ll drop back in, at a university where your talents are recognized and appreciated. There will be more depression and bleakness — that part, I’m sad to say, is baked into you. But there will be joy, and love, and accomplishment and celebration.
And I called you Samantha, beautiful girl, because that’s who you really are, and when you accept that about yourself, the burden of pretending to be somebody you’re not turns to mist and drifts away on the wind. You’re a beautiful, sexy and smart woman, and when you give up the masculine facade, the world snaps into bright, vivid focus.
There’s a reason I’m writing this to you, even though I never invented that time machine, even though you can never read it and be comforted by a glimpse into the future. It’s because you’re not alone in your despair, Samantha. Every person has their own tapestry of pain and regret, each unique but sharing common threads. There are people out there who are not you, young Samantha, but who are much like you. And their future selves are sitting out there somewhere in the future, wishing they could talk to their younger selves.
So I’m writing this on their behalf. If somebody like that is reading this, I’m not your future self. I can’t give you any hints about the path your life will take. I’m just some random writer. But please, please don’t give into the despair. Find help, find comfort where you can, but persevere. Your future self is counting on you, to figure it out without hints, to make the history that they will inherit.
I love you, young Samantha. It took me a very long time to realize it, but I do. With all your flaws and virtues and paradoxes and facets, I needed you to be who you are so I could become who I am. And who I am is a woman who has done more than she ever dreamed she could.
Thank you for giving me the chance.