A public letter to my younger self: What I wish I had known

Junior Niki Naderi is captured by her mother at age two playing at the local playground.

Photo by Samieh Abyar

Junior Niki Naderi is captured by her mother at age two playing at the local playground.

Dear little Niki Naderi, life is hard. There is no doubt about that. There will be ups and downs, highs and lows. You will reach a point where you believe you’ve done everything you can, yet you come full of surprises. I’m here to tell you what I wish I had known when I was a little girl. It might be hard to read and accept some of the stuff I am going to tell you, but it will also be like a breath of fresh air. Family is everything. Even the famous quote by Sir Walter Scott can prove that, “Blood is thicker than water” but sometimes family can disappoint. No one talks about the difficulty of maintaining a healthy relationship with foreign parents. The constant arguing, fighting, disagreements etc. is painful. Your generation has ripped up every single moral your parents have lived by.

Generation Z has called out certain parenting techniques that most parents from older generations have done for several years, such as invasion of privacy, looking through a child’s phone, verbal abuse, guilt tripping, shaming, manipulation, punishing a child for expressing their emotions, hypocrisy etc. With that being said, Generation Z has tried to introduce a parenting technique called “Gentle Parenting,” which is essentially made up of four main elements: respecting, understanding, empathy and setting boundaries. Unfortunately, none of these were true in the 2000s.

What some parents fail to realize is that we aren’t perfect. We aren’t being raised in the same environment they were raised in their country. Some cultural aspects would never be accepted in America and understandably so, it’s hard to step away from culture you’ve known all your life; but projecting anger and emotions onto a child is never OK. Especially when it’s something your child has no control over.

Don’t get me wrong, not all foreign parents have used bad parenting techniques. For instance, Mom and Dad are amazing. It’s just the four of us, you, Mom, Dad and your older brother. Mom and Dad work really hard to get us to where we are today. They have sacrificed everything they love to make sure we’re happy. I can’t imagine waking up at two o’clock in the morning to go to work just to come home at five o’clock at night, but Mom and Dad make it work. Their hard work, their warm love and care has helped me realize the value of family.
Little Niki, arguments don’t last forever. You will soon realize that it’s their first time living too and that no one is perfect. Reflect, learn and grow as an individual. Keep their voices in your head for times when you feel like giving up.

I’d like to address your biggest problem to this day, school. School is very hard, draining and toxic. (B) average and (C) average students are looked down upon. They’re seen as unintelligent and quite frankly some teachers will make you believe that you won’t get into college. From middle school forward, teachers are constantly telling you to maintain good grades and hope to get into a good college. You’re constantly preparing yourself for the future, taking hard classes, trying to reach assignment deadlines, doing after school activities; yet sometimes it just feels like it’s never enough.

In your high school years you will learn that your school is toxic and everyone around you is competing to become better. Instead of being happy for one another, students are degrading each other. I can’t stress this enough how frustrating it is to hear my peers complain about getting two points off on a test when some students, like myself, are hoping we only get two points off. I understand that students want to be better and get a higher score but it’s also hard to hear people complain about an A. What’s there to complain about? No one talks about how the curriculum was built for people who can handle the workload and how hard the material is. So let this become a learning experience and let your mistakes be your biggest lesson yet.

Ever since you were a little girl, you’ve always dreamt of becoming a doctor. Mom and Dad got you a stethoscope toy and you would pretend to take care of them. As a child you were always in and out of hospitals and were constantly getting sick. You weren’t like normal kids where you would catch a cold and feel better in a couple days, if you got sick, it was bad. Mom and Dad were always worried about you, praying your immune system would get better. Constantly begging you to eat fruits and vegetables, listen to them. You won’t regret it. From severe colds and flu, to kidney infections, to pneumonia, to bronchitis, I got to see health care workers from different perspectives. The care and love I received made me realize how much I want to help people. I want to give patients another chance in life and give them a reason to value life.

The constant sickness caused you to miss school. I’m currently in my junior year of high school, “the most important year” they say. Yet your body decided it was the “perfect time” to get bronchitis. You were sick for a month and missed school. You dealt with symptoms such as shortness of breath, congestion and a bad cough. Thankfully, after a month you felt better but then it was time to catch up on school.

You would think teachers would be understanding and give you time to submit assignments, but It wasn’t like that. In fact your teachers were quite inconsiderate considering the circumstances. You sent out an email to your teachers like every other student would but didn’t receive the response you’d like. One of your teachers looked at you and told you that it’s not her problem and there’s nothing she could do about it. I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable.

I’m telling you all of this because I want you to understand that sometimes you might make a plan and a sudden occurrence will cause a change preventing you from achieving your goal. Sometimes it’s important to go with plan B if plan A doesn’t work. Some people will treat you poorly regardless of what you’re going through but try your best to not lose your kind heart. You’re not the only one going through something, keep others in mind and be considerate. Learn from the ones that treat you badly and strive to be the opposite. Be kind, treat others with love.

Now that all of that is out the way, little Niki I wish you the best. Enjoy life and live in the present. I hope this letter brings you some clarity and to the public that have read this letter, I hope you can relate and reflect on your own life.