Here Goes…

Mar 1, 2024 | 2024 Spring - Letters to Myself

By Valerie Tendai Chatindo

Val, I saw this call, this whole letter to myself thing.

I didn’t want to do it, if I’m being honest, because I wondered what I’d tell you. Whether I’d feel obligated to tell you what I know you want to hear. I don’t want to give you a false sense of optimism, one which blinds you from living in the present moment. The kind of optimism that has you grasping desperately onto the hope of something better in a far-off future at the expense of the present moment. I don’t want to be deceitful.

Yet… I don’t want to hurt you with the truth.

This moment feels intrusive, leaving me feeling like a stranger intent on disassembling the façade which has sustained a herd of hopefuls in the form of humanity. I am a wandering and unwelcome time traveler existing in a matrix where I should not be, telling you things you may not be prepared to hear. I feel like a villain, yet I find I am exactly the voice you need. The villain you need.

Will you forgive me?

You may choose to burn this letter right now, but should you be brave (or mad) enough to continue, then here goes:

Life is an endless struggle, Val, but not in the ways you think. Materialism is just part of the condition of being human. To live is to do so in a state of constant dissatisfaction. You want so much, and you will have it. But even then, you will still want more. At one point you will want for money and, just when you have accumulated it, you will long for a lack of it. You want a high-paying job, in a misguided attempt to gain the approval of family. Impressed they will be. But afterwards you’ll realize all you want is the struggle that comes with pursuing your dreams. To write and to thrive in a simplistic life where you are your own priority.

Trust your heart a little more. Deep down you know what you really want. Yet fear paralyzes you. Fear and hope. The hope that your parents will look at you someday with something other than disapproval in their eyes. You’ve done everything right, and even so, that has never been enough. It’s okay to accept that maybe your story is different. That not all families have happy endings. That someone has to be that black sheep and maybe that’s your role in this incarnation. A soul has to experience all aspects of humanity before it graduates to a greater existential realm. It has to record the lessons that are presented through its many walks through life. Suffering, villainy, tyranny, love, kindness, wickedness, and helplessness. You have to record it all.

It’s okay to walk away from the expectations of those who will live in unwavering disappointment in you. Love them.
Love them from a distance—your happiness and peace are limited resources. Nonetheless, you will soon come to realize that they are more important than you have ever thought. 

Faith is a beautiful thing, but while you’re waiting on your desires to materialize, help yourself as best you can. Don’t needlessly suffer, then blame God and the universe for your woes. Religion, especially the way it is taught in Africa (an attempt to pacify our people, which has worked) can delude you into fetishizing pain and suffering so much that you concede and accept them. Life can suck, Booboo, but even then, don’t let it drag you down without a fight. Life can drag you to hell and back. You are also allowed to kick and scream and slap it in the face while it tries. You are Jacob. Everything you have you have fought for, even God himself.

Sexuality, spirituality, love, ambition. I could give you a lot of advice on these matters, Valerie, but you’re smart. You’ll figure it out.

I guess all that’s left to say is that, hey, you’re going to doubt yourself, and this doubt will be compounded by the discouragement and cynicism of the people around you. You have larger-than-life dreams. Dreams to write and publish books, to open research centers, and to qualify as a sexologist. You want to live! It’s true what they say: that everyone has dreams, but not everyone who dreams lives to see those dreams come to fruition. Sure, everyone can dream, but not everyone is willing to fully pursue those dreams. Dreams hurt, and not everyone is willing to suffer for them. I wish I could say confidently that everything will work. I know no better than you do. What I do know is that life is a better experience when you live it chasing that itch. That what if.

Chase it!

Val, please don’t lose your hope.

Valerie Tendai Chatindo is a biochemistry graduate from the University of Zimbabwe, a writer, and a sexual health and awareness educator. Her work has appeared inThe Kalahari Review#Enthuse, Bhizimusi, Creepy podcastPink Disco, AgbowóandLiterary Yard. The 28-year-old resides in Harare, Zimbabwe with her cat, Muffins, where she has begun her own literary platform, Shumba Literary Magazine, and blogs on her personal platform,

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