Dear 20-year-old Chou and 30-year-old Chou,
I thought of writing two separate letters to each of you, but let’s be honest here, Chous. None of us would have time for that. We’re way too lazy and procrastinate like koalas during wildfires in Australia. Plus, we’re literally the same person and if I could be completely open and honest with anyone in this world about anything and everything, that would be you two. I know there might be some generational gaps between us. Like 20yo Chou didn’t know about Tik Tok and 30 yo Chou might be an influencer there (press F). But hey, as long as we love, care, and respect each other, I think we can have a healthy threesome, I mean a three-way conversation. It’s gonna be great.
I tried writing this letter in Vietnamese but I figured the pronouns are way too complicated for all of us to grasp, so we’re back to English.
Well, glad to see we all sitting here, having yet another identity crisis together. Anxiety sure as hell doesn’t go away when you reach a certain age. But I’m glad we’ve got each other’s back.
You might not believe this, Chous, but I am proud of us. Did you know what happened in 2021? More precisely, you know what we survived in 2021?
A pandemic. Well the first season aired in 2019, then Netflix kept extending the contract because of international pressure, so now we’re almost 3 seasons in, and I still fucking hate the main character
A breakup. That one stings. Spoiler ahead, 20yo Chou, but that conversation he and you had back in 2017 replayed like a few hundred times. And every time we avoided solving it. “We” in the sense of he and you. Not us Chous. It’s pretty much not up to us. Actually, it never involved us so I don’t think we should blame ourselves too much on that front. The relationship failed for other reasons as well so at the moment I’m doing therapy to work through those. You’re welcome, 30yo Chou.
Another thing we survived in 2021: Christmas and New Year. 20yo Chou, you probably could relate to this since you probably remember better than me the feeling of loneliness and isolation around this time of the year. Not trying to throw shades, I’m just saying, it was not that long ago that you moved away from home to a different continent and had to start a new life in a strange city. But if my memory is correct, 2017 was the first Christmas you spent with his family and it was wonderful. I’m getting butthurt but I’m happy for you, love. As you can see, I’m still grieving. It’s so bad, given that I’m also once again, texting people on Bumble, probably looking for attention and validation because this holiday season can get pretty depressing when you’re away from family. All I can tell you is, even now, knowing how painful the end of that relationship would be, knowing that it was five fucking years of our life if I could go back to 2017 and meet you, 20yo Chou, I would just hug you and say, “Merry Christmas!” Look, there is literally no advice I could give you back then that you would listen to. Goddamn, woman, you are one stubborn buffalo, and we wouldn’t know what we do now if we didn’t learn it from experience.
The last thing on my list of surviving 2021 is the exhausting job hunt. I don’t know why I leave this next achievement till the end because it used to be everything 20yo Chou could think about: Chou, we got a full-time job with a killer salary and an unlimited contract in the industry we studied for and received a 2-year employment visa. It was like, everything we have ever wanted and worked so hard towards for years. We made it, Chou!
Looking for a job in the middle of a pandemic was fucking terrifying and we nailed it.
Actually, now that we mentioned it, the breakup might have made me forget how many mental breakdowns we have had over the years about our career. This job and this visa were probably the only things we cared about. It was at the top of our development plan for years. We worked overtime, we networked with all kinds of people, we tried to sell ourselves on every possible social media channel, hoping recruiters would notice us. Our romantic relationship was, actually, always on the sidelines. Secondary. Low in priority. Just kinda there.
We were so focused on our career, we’d list out all kinds of pros and cons of every job, doing all kinds of research on the company’s background and benefits package. And we’d jump jobs every 2 years. So whatever “relationship conversation” he and we need to have, it can wait. In retrospect, that was probably what happened, 20yo Chou, we were so preoccupied with finding a job that we really couldn’t deal with the failing relationship until probation was over and we could finally breathe out after years of pent-up stress to have “the talk” with him, which inevitably ended everything because well, it has ended long before that but none of us were ready.
Sorry 30yo Chou, I barely address you throughout this whole thing. You know it’s hard for us to look forward and prospect what’s gonna happen when the whole theme of 2019-2021 has been “unpredictability.”
But I hope you get some sort of insights from the conversation I had with 20yo Chou. She was so insecure about her professional ability that she would freak out and cry over something a colleague said or did. Sometimes a mean comment on Facebook threw her off for days. We know this. We were there. She couldn’t even fathom that one day I would be here, being able to afford a one-person apartment in the middle of Anděl, managing all communications of the Czech office of a notable Danish IT company at the age of 24. But I bet the bitch already knew our romantic relationship wasn’t going to last. She might be insecure but she ain’t dumb.
30yo Chou, I’m still insecure about my lovability, my self-worth, my desirability, my looks, my past relationship. Our confidence level goes up and down like Covid waves. But I’m not an idiot to know you’re gonna meet someone and you will have a wonderful serious committed relationship when you’re ready. It will take some time for sure.
Whether you’re with someone in 2027 or not, I know you’ll be fabulous. Your relationship status should not affect your ability to go out, have fun, and enjoy yourself. Like you did in 2021 even though it’s hard and scary to put yourself out there again and again.
It’s exactly how I would explain job hunts to 20yo Chou: You try and try again because rejections are part of life and they help you grow (and arguably help the other party grow as well). Every time it doesn’t work out, whether it’s HR automatic replies that they have found a better match for the job (if they are kind enough not to ghost you), or it’s you turning down the job offer in-person and recruiters broke down in tears, it shows that one of you aren’t ready for the commitment ahead. So we should not take it personally. Instead, we should thank each other and move on.
The last thing I want to say is, in the midst of all this pandemic angst, one thing I could be certain of is that Chou of 6 years from now will be the wisest of us all thanks to all the shits that she’s been through. So we (20yo Chou and 24yo Chou) pray that you (30 yo Chou) will pull through whatever shitstorms life throws at you in the next six years. We handled our shits, it’s only fair if you handle yours for our’s sakes. And given our track record of handling crises, I’d say you’ll be fine.
I also hope 30yo Chou knows what she wants, career-wise, relationship-wise, family-wise, lifestyle-wise, etc. 30yo Chou, I’ve faith in you. I don’t need you to have a house, or a car, or a husband, or a baby by 30, but I expect you to know by then if you want those things or not. So we can have a goddamn plan (preferably with a clear timeline, please) and are already putting things in motion.
Basically, keep up the good work, continue being awesome, and make us proud.