No longer a teenager, I wanted to do something that encapsulated my last year before I turn 20, so I wanted to write a letter to some friends that really got me through this past year.
This is definitely not a comprehensive list, and if you aren’t listed, please don’t take it personally — I am extremely grateful for our friendship together. These are just some of the people that have made my year so great, but really, I am so lucky to have each and every single one of you in my life.
For the people that are deciding to read this remarkably long post (or if you are the said person), I hope you enjoy getting to know some of my friends. They are some of the best people I have gotten the privilege to get to know, and I wanted to share some semblance of them with you because I think that I’m the luckiest person in the world to have them in my life.
I am truly scared of the future and what’s to hold for me. For full transparency, after internalizing everything, I feel like my identity has shifted so much in recent months, and I am both excited and fearful of how I will change in the upcoming years.
Praying the 20 somethings don’t kill me.
The start of our friendship 👫
I remember when I first told my friends after I met “this girl from Product Space” and I was like, “This girl I just met delivered me pho from Rendez to my room… I think I’m in love.”
Then we went to Ekali together after a very stressful night UX designing (that honestly wasn’t worth it in retrospect) and a few weeks after, you invited me to come back home with you to San Jose.
I hadn’t even known you for that long, but this “poor guy” had such a fun time getting to know you playing my Adobe XD prototype of We’re Not Really Strangers. That was when I realized that you were such a dynamic individual that has been shaped by all of these trials and tribulations and also when I realized that we were markedly similar but unique in our own ways.
First of all, I don’t think I have met someone that I clicked with so well from the beginning of our friendship. I don’t really enjoy opening up my circle to so many people after some failed relationships, and also I was slightly reluctant, because:
But in the Bay, you were so incredibly generous and sweet to me, always making sure that I’m validated in how I feel and making sure that I was having a good time. You reminded me of my past self but better—it was refreshing being able to see myself in you and feeling that reciprocity for one of the first times in my life.
Professionalism on overdrive 🤖
From our mutual stress over our career prospects and impulsively reactive decisions in everything, you’ve been my other half and have pushed me to believe that I am capable of anything that the world hits me with. Thank god I found another product designer because I was feeling a little bit misguided not having anyone to keep me accountable; I’m extremely lucky that we’re growing together both professionally and emotionally (even though the two are pretty much exclusive).
We need to stop stressing out about the future and what’s to be in store for product design though. Taking a look into Silicon Valley and the expectations that you grew up with, I want to remind you that success is never linear, and you will fail to grow. Just remember that we have each other to support and lift up and that I will always be here for you in all of your achievements but also shortcomings.
Focus on success but never at the expense of mental deterioration (we all know you won’t take this in, but please at least try).
New love language? 💖🎖️
I am so lucky to have had the privilege to get to know someone like you on such an intimate level. I mean this wholeheartedly when I say that I have never met someone more selfless than you. Even some of my friends who have met you for a split second could see how selfless you are in their first interactions with you. Time after time, you go out of your way for me and all of your friends that you love and care about, and this actually has made me reflect on what I value in friendships. Now, I think my new love language is Acts of Service because of you.
You brought me pho to my room when I was sick, helped me with all things recruiting and UX design, rented a Zipcar to take my friends down to my dad’s funeral, Postmated me mac and cheese, made me a care package, and so much more it would take me at the minimum an hour to write. Your kindness does not go unnoticed, and every single thing you do for me is done with so much thought and empathy.
To be honest, I feel a little guilty sometimes because I wish I could give you more, and hopefully now that things in my life have sort of situated, I hope I can show you through acts of service in the near future how much I value you and our friendship. But please know that I appreciate everything that you do for me quite a lot, and I want to give you the love that you give me.
I am so lucky to call you one of my best friends, Colleen. There is nothing that I would not do for you (not like you would take the offer anyway), and the amount of love I have for you is endless. I love you a lot.
The moments I spend FaceTiming you daily, I enjoy every single second of our conversations together — even if we’re constantly panicked most of the time. Really excited to see what’s in store for our friendship in the near future, and I hope we can go on more spontaneous adventures doing whatever our hearts desire together.
(Thank you for the TOKiMONSTA t-shirt — I’m literally wearing it right now.)
Who’s that pretty girl? 👀
I literally feel like I’m saying my wedding vows when I write this, but who knew that the Kalamazoo, Michigan girl from my Digital Humanities group project would be now one of my best friends of all-time? The moment I first talked to you in class, I just remembered the first thought that went through my head was:
“Wow. That girl could end lives. Like she’s powerful.”
Not only were you an impeccable graphic designer, but you were so eloquent with your words and how you presented yourself. And then I found out you were in a 3+ year-long relationship (which was also essentially your first!), and then I was like:
“Wow. And she’s committed too. Well, damn.”
I know we both know looks are very trivial in the grand scheme of things, but yes — my first impressions were that you were a stunning girl who had the most charismatic personality. To this day, I still very much stand by that statement, and getting to know you has been quite the journey.
Candy or kandi? 🍭
After being pretty much acquainted with each other and learning about your music taste and background, we hung out together and made kandi. You typically make kandi for raves, and I know you really only were a Frank Ocean type of girl up until then, but still, I decided to do this with you because I find it a little cathartic just beading stuff over a conversation. Plus over Moscato that you brought? Say less.
Backtracking a little, I didn’t anticipate feeling so comfortable talking to you about personal things in some of our first interactions together. To be completely honest, I feel like more often than not, I’ve been comfortable with the small circle of friends I have so I don’t feel a lot of pressure to make new friends. And it’s kind of dumb, but when I saw the kandi that you made me, I realized that you were different than most girls that try to “get to know” me.
It felt personal, it felt real, and it just meant a lot to me because I realized that the words you chose meant that you saw deeper than what most people see of me. Even with some nasty remarks from girls in our group project about me and what I had told you about some petty drama back at the beginning of freshman year, you see deeper parts of me and for what I’m worth, never questioning me about my actions.
I strongly believe you are one of the most empathetic individuals I had the privilege to know personally. The moment I feel an ounce of insecurity within me, you immediately dispel it, and I think how humble and low-maintenance you are speaks volumes about your character. Never have I heard you say one single arrogant comment about yourself, and you endlessly shower me with compliments to help me feel more secure with myself.
This is why I swiped you into all of those dining halls all the time.
Brandon, the mentor 👨🏫
I know you’ve felt a little more incapacitated than usual with your career, but please know that after getting to dissect your personality as a whole, I recognize that you are the type of individual to persevere and get to where you need to be.
With everything that has happened in your life and how you managed to keep a summa cum laude GPA, this resilience has equipped you with the skills necessary to take you to extraordinary lengths. I think you are an amazing public speaker, and I don’t doubt that you will get everything that you manifest in life. And it’s inevitable that you will fail at some point, and I will be here for you to help navigate through that.
Whatever you decide to pursue in life, I want you to know and absorb this fact: you are enough. Impostor syndrome is such a debilitating burden that I think we all face growing up, but I am confident that you’re going to end up in a safe and secure place. Always here for you if you need a pep talk or anything at all because just as you are there for me, I am for you.
For the memories that we do have together, I am so grateful for. I’m pretty sad that we hadn’t had the chance to hang out more, because I wanted to do so many things with you, but fortunately, you’re in LA still!
I also just got my film camera developed, so rest assured when this COVID stuff blows over, we’re going to go on a photoshoot together. I just want to go to Ross and work towards living that reduced price lifestyle that we deserve.
(Thank you for APSE and the UX designer mug… this probably is the cheesiest thing someone has gotten me but the most thoughtful. I love you so much.)
Oh god, I don’t know if I can even write this one because I don’t think there are enough words in the dictionary to quantify or qualify how great of a friend you have been to me for the past 20 years.
I think it’s a little bit funny because I had already written about you before in Note #200, and I probably have a million journal entries about our experiences together, but I will do a million and one because I love you (also it’s kind of strange to me that I used to be very repulsed in saying this to you but not so much as I grow older).
Dripp, Dripp, Dripp, and Post ☕
I think something that I needed to reconcile with this past year is not holding grudges for things that happened so long ago, focusing on the big picture and about how much that event mattered in the grand scheme of things. Our falling out coming into college really affected me because I held some negativity towards you, and even though we didn’t see each other around UCLA most of freshman year, I wanted to apologize explicitly for being so bitter towards you.
I’ve learned a lot from that situation, and I recognize that friendships as strong as ours are not perfect but are a constant work-in-progress — it requires both individuals to have a mutual understanding that open communication is necessary to have with someone on an extremely intimate level. It was difficult for me to come to terms with that, but I was so lucky that I did because look at us now.
This is an extremely special picture to me because this is the first time we hung out together after not talking to each other for about a year. I just was kind of taken aback about how we picked things up so quickly again and were so comfortable with each other.
I unpacked virtually everything that I held onto so strongly, and you took the time to really understand me and validate all of the feelings I had pent up. Not going to get too much into the logistics, but in short, that night I learned that you developed such a keen sense of emotional intelligence that is rare to find in many people. When I say you are one-of-a-kind, I mean it — no other Asian girl from Orange County can compete where they don’t compare.
The next day, we went back to my favorite coffee shop of all-time, Dripp. Honestly, I don’t really know what we did that day aside from get coffee and catch each other up on our lives, but I was happy to go back to the place that served as a sanctuary for me in high school and bridge our friendship again.
I am just beyond ecstatic that all of those sentimental gifts growing up really meant something — I stand by every single word that I’ve ever said about our friendship and how we will always be best friends.
Fast forwarding the friendship ⏩
Now it’s July 1st, and I’m looking back on how our friendship has grown since we last reconnected. There are many things that I’ve come to learn from our relationship together, but here a few:
- Life is rough and things get kind of foggy sometimes, but acknowledging the bigger picture really gives you perspective on what’s important in life. Some things you find so important now may be so trivial in the future.
- We have really changed so much from how we were in high school. Never would I have thought we would be like this, but I can’t say I’m complaining because I’m having a great time.
- I definitely can say that you are my best friend forever, and I think we are soulmates in this lifetime. There is nobody else in this world that I would want to have grown up or spend a monumental piece of myself with.
- We better live close to each other in the future so that our kids have the opportunity to be best friends as well. Exactly like how those Villa Park moms and dads have it but less racist.
- I love you more than I can put into words.
It seems like regardless of whether we’re apart or we’re together, we are constantly growing dynamically and fluidly, and when we are together, we push each other forward to be the best version of ourselves. And isn’t that what we all want in life?
You have done so much to support me in such a short amount of time, and I wish I could have done more for you this past year. Things have been stabilizing as of recently, so I hope I am able to show how much I care about you and support you in the upcoming weeks.
I am so blessed to have you in my life again, and I hope you know that you are still — in my eyes — one of the most strong-minded, independent-thinking, drop-dead gorgeous, and intelligent (both emotionally and literally) individuals that have ever walked this Earth. That is such a strong statement, but I mean it wholeheartedly.
I hope you know that I will always be here for you at any time of the day. The moment that you’re feeling sad about something, I will come rushing over with Sharetea and mac and cheese (even if it is “bland”) and do whatever it takes for you to be happy. I know you would do just the same for me (and you have!).
You deserve only good things coming your way. Thank you for 20 years of friendship and a life full of love.
I am so grateful for every single moment of it.
To preface, I miss you so much. Digging through old photos of us together for this has made me so sad because I haven’t had the chance to really get to see you since everything went down in March. You certainly are still very much in my thoughts day-to-day, and I know we don’t talk as often as I would like to, but that’s on my end as well. I just want you to know that I love you just the same, and I am writing this because I am grateful for our friendship together and you have made me happier.
AKPsi or AKDie 😈
Freshman year was so exciting for me because I had the privilege to meet qwertsad123, literally the most unique and talented individual who related to me on such a different spectrum.
I miss that era quite a lot because I think we were both extremely naive individuals just ready to take on UCLA and what it has to offer us. So happy that AKPsi brought us together because I don’t know if I would enjoy college as much as I did the past two years pre-COVID without you.
Quite frankly, I don’t ever recall having even a single second that I didn’t enjoy when we were hanging out together. You’re such a fluid character with so much personality that I think a lot of people gravitate towards, and it’s no wonder that you’re transcending wherever you are.
And for that reason, I think this is why you are so special — I don’t call many people that because I feel like it’s something reserved for people like you. Your ability to empathize with other people’s experiences in life is unmatched and is the result of years and years of your own augmented experiences, which is why you give such solid advice time after time. Many individuals lack the range that you have, and I hold a lot of reverence for someone as equipped to tackle any situation as you are.
This year has been the most difficult year of my life, and it’s only a little bit above halfway done. You have done so much for me in the past two years that I think many people wouldn’t be able to do in ten, and I wanted to let you know that you are one of the very few people in my life that I would die for.
Most people don’t understand me in the way that you do, and I think those marked experiences that we have shaped our relationship in fundamental ways. It feels nice to have a friend that you can have fun with but also have emotionally intelligent conversations with, and well, you just get me.
You are so competent and skilled at whatever you place your efforts in, and it’s evident — you’re a gymnast, polyglot, writer, engineer, and any other noun I can put here. I am always supporting you in whatever endeavors or ventures you want to pursue; from SWE to Créer La Vie, if it makes you happy, I’m all for it. Roger put it best:
“Anything for Megan.”
You’re my slime 🐢
We experienced so many things together, from consistent major switching to birthday dinners to car breakdowns at Escape — I could list so many things that we shared together (like Halal Guys). The fact that you have a permanent scar because of me is representative of how far you would go for your friends, and I am lucky to have the privilege to call you one of my best friends. I’m sad we weren’t able to go to Belize this year, but I really hope we get to travel together some break senior year.
This upcoming year definitely is going to be difficult because I’m staying at home for the entire school year, but I hope we have the chance to reconnect sometime soon. I miss vibing with you over music and just spending time with you.
Finally, I wanted to let you know that you are such a quality individual, and if you ever feel like you’re at a standstill or lagging behind in any area, trust in yourself that you can do anything that you put your mind to and get what you deserve. I will never hesitate to tell you to only strive for the best.
You’re an ethereal individual, and I wanted to say thank you for always being there for me not just some of the time, but all of the time. Life is always more exciting with you, and I hope this picture above shows you how far I am willing to go for you. Because you always are there for me.
I love you so much, Megan. Catch up soon. :)
Onionhaseyo, Charlotte Grace! I have quite a few words for you, and let me tell you — they’re not in Korean.
Dancer Charlie at a festival? 💃
Seeing you at Escape made my heart melt — I don’t talk to too many people from Villa Park (as you are well aware) but seeing you there made me realize how much I missed going to your dance recitals and your house and Cudi (especially Cudi). Life was so much easier when we were involved with extremely petty drama, like worrying about if one of us would be upset when there was literally no grounds.
But now you’ve moved onto bigger and better things. Let me use this moment to tell you how proud I am of you and your achievements in nursing. The fact that you were able to take a quarter off and just use that time for yourself while still breaking the barrier with CSULB Nursing astounds me. Congratulations on being accepted! I hope you’re going to be my nurse and take care of me when I blackout from an aneurysm due to sleep deprivation (I’m writing all of these letters on less than 4 hours of sleep in a 2-day period, so bear with me). We’ll properly celebrate when this COVID-19 stuff blows over.
This year you have done so much for me than I could have ever asked for. I wanted to say thank you for how much you have done for me not only in recent months but also throughout our entire friendship together. From gestures like driving to Los Angeles all the way to waiting for my friends to arrive before you left the funeral, I am eternally grateful. The fact that you were willing to drive me from home to UCLA to UCI to UCLA just to take me to a concert is beyond me — there is never any hesitation or anything, but you do it because you care. Not sure you realize how much these things mean to me, but I think about your selflessness a lot and sometimes question how I could be a better friend to you after we hang out. You always go the extra mile for me, and I hope you know how much I appreciate spending time with you since I know we don’t really text each other too often.
Looking back, growing up with you has been such an experience that I am so grateful for. Like I was there for every single phase of your eyeliner evolution, which you have honestly perfected at this point in life. And birthday parties as well, but these birthdays weren’t just ordinary birthday parties — these were memories that you and I were able to make with each other that I reminisce about whenever I think about my childhood.
Let me just say that it has been an honor to be your friend all of these years and create these lasting moments with you. You have made such a lasting impact on how I view friendships and what being a good friend means, and that is something so invaluable to me. You mean the world to me, and I hope you know that if you ever needed someone to rely on or talk to, I am always here for you because I love you.
A reminder 🔔
Additionally, something that I wanted to use this opportunity was to remind you about how strong you are. You do so much for your friends and family, always making sure that they’re feeling the best even when you’re not at yours, and I think seeing that dichotomy of the love you give others when you’re going through it versus the love you give yourself in times of adversity pains me.
One thing that I have learned personally is that you can’t help others when you don’t help yourself, and I see how selfless you are in everything that you do. I am just saying this just in case a sad spell ever looms over you, and you feel like you aren’t able to do something for someone else at that moment. This is a reminder to put yourself first above all else, to give yourself the love that you give your friends always time after time.
I miss you a lot, and I think we need to hang out sometime soon because I’m getting tired seeing Find My Friends show how close we are. Hopefully COVID ends soon because I want to give you a hug.
Wishing you the best right now, Charlizzle. Love you always.
Anthony + Vanessa
Literal second parents 👪
I’m probably the most excited to write this letter to you guys because you both have shared some of the happiest moments with me in my sophomore year. Taking the whole fun aspect away and honing in on your individualistic qualities, I’ve come to realize that you guys are amazing friends that anyone would be lucky to have.
Vanessa, you have supported me so much in helping me really learn to love myself and recognize that I am someone deserving of love. You always compliment me and remind me to not be so hard on myself, and I think I’ve internalized all of the times you’ve said that to the point where I’ve slowly built the confidence necessary to push further.
You are one of the kindest friends that I know, and I literally cannot believe that you are an investment banker. Like I’m still wrapping my head around that fact because you’re someone with such a convivial, bubbly personality and are always smiling. Maybe IB people aren’t so bad after all, or maybe you’re just that anomaly.
Regardless, I wanted to say that I miss you and wish we could have made more memories together before I left LA for a while. But for now, I guess I’ll reminisce about the time I convinced you and Roger to go with me to see Dom Dolla at The Shrine and the crowd was absolutely horrible. And then all of us not having a credit card because we thought they’d accept Apple Pay at BCD (which reminds me, I owe you and Roger some money). I love you a lot — thank you for being such a great friend to me.
The day Calvin introduced me to you I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. I’m partly right because I’ve really loved being on the #LeiTeam.
Anthony, I am so lucky that I had the chance to meet someone like you. When I say I have never met someone like you, I literally have never met someone like you. Getting to know you has been quite interesting — you are, if not, the straightest gay man I have ever come to meet. Fortunately, I can work with trade men.
But I wanted to say thank you for taking me down to the hospital the day my dad passed away because I had no means of transportation aside from Uber, which was ridiculously expensive from LA. I was extremely panicked that day and you just alleviated another worry that I had, and I appreciate you so much. From helping me understand structs and classes in CS to partying it up with me at Rage on Fridays (because that’s the only day I can go sadly), I am very grateful for our friendship together.
I am happy that you’re finally getting the love that you deserve, and I am going to be here supporting you throughout all of your pursuits in graduate school and beyond, and hopefully when you buy your first house next year, I can help serve as an interior designer for you. Life is faring really well for you, and this time next year, I expect us to be taking grad photos together.
If you ever need anything, I got you! Thanks for being an A1 friend this past year, and I really hope we can make more memories in LA together.
I appreciate both of you very much in my life — thank you for making these memories with me. We all need to hang out really soon because I’m going insane having not seen my friends in 3 months, and by the time COVID dies down, I’ll be 21 by then so we can go to different clubs than Rage.
Until then, I love you both a lot. I’ll plan a MeetFresh date sometime soon!
Roger + Calvin + Galen
Last but certainly not least, Roger, Calvin, and Galen. To be completely transparent, I don’t know whether to write this since I also realize that most of you don’t really care too much about this sentimental stuff since I do this way too much (but that’s only because I have a lot of love to give to you all). Awaiting a response from you all at the moment, but let’s be honest, I love you guys a lot, and I’m probably going to do it even if you don’t answer.
The crazy thing about this letter compared to the rest is that I had already been writing about you guys in an unfinished journal entry ten months ago. I had said:
It’s been difficult for me crafting quality friendships that I hope will last until the end of time, but regardless, I try to focus a lot of my love and attention to my best friends in my life. To be surrounded by people who uplift you and bring out the best in you but who are also able to help you correct the parts of you that are at fault is key in becoming a better person. Roger, Calvin, and Galen are those people for me — I never question that they are always supporting me in my achievements but also rooting for me to work past my shortcomings.
MeetFresh + Gays = meetfresh gays 👬 👬
In recent months, I think I have gotten a little bit sad because I feel like our friend group is deteriorating — not because of any one person’s fault or wrongdoing but rather because we are just so preoccupied with our own lives now (like work for Galen and Calvin). I think that’s the reason I always text mindlessly in the group chat; I don’t really care about what I’m saying but I want to be that notification that you get daily that reminds you, “Hey, I have three friends that really value me and I can trust all of them wholeheartedly with things that I may be struggling with.”
I know some of you (ahem, Galen) may have some personal reservations about opening up, but my goal has always been to make sure that everyone feels validated within the group chat. But I’ve come to realize (several realizations huh?) that it can only happen if our own individual relationships are strong, and I think in recent months, there has been a lot of dissonance with that amidst all four of us in some shape or form.
Regardless, I’m not here to talk about why I’m a little sad about that— I do that all the time already so I’m sure you guys are bored and just skimming this while you’re on TikTok. I am writing this because I want to let you all know how much I still value each and every single one of you. I’ve developed such a strong bond with all of you individually at one point or another, and I’m always searching for ways to solidify that bond better. How else will we be able to rent out Chinese real estate when we’re older la?
On the real, I really do feel like you guys are my lifelong friends that I have been searching for my entire life. Growing up in Orange County, I didn’t necessarily have access to a plethora of gay people in real life, so meeting both Roger and Galen has made all the difference within my life. And I had the luxury to meet Calvin, and I just get really happy thinking about how we all met along with the memories we all share with each other.
Friendships are a big deal 🧚🏼♂️✨💕
I think I won’t be able to find many other LGBTQIA+ people like you guys because you all bring something different to the table. Personally, I think you all are very unique individuals with your own set of schemas, which I adore. Galen, the plant enthusiast and socially aware educator, Calvin, the unapologetic LOONA stan and Lulu MechE techie, Roger, the fashion expert and social media influencer — all of us have markedly different experiences from one another. This diversity of thought is what makes for an interesting, impactful conversation, even if the majority of the time we exclusively talk about men.
Not only that but as a group, meetfresh gays have remained resilient. Friend groups dissolve so quickly, and if you’re gay, that goes so quickly because there’s always that one gay who has some nasty reservations about another gay. We all just sort of have this mutual understanding to not vilify or be problematic to each other, and I definitely think that the dynamic that we have is rare to come by.
You all have been nothing except a source of happiness within my life for the past few years, and I am so grateful to call you guys my best friends. I guess what I am really trying to say is that it’s going to be difficult to replace any of you with someone else, and I don’t really want to fathom that prospect. I’ve been friends with you all for far too long, so I hope we can remain nurturing our friendship as a collective. I’m going to continue to do my part, so I hope you guys will do the same because it certainly is a two-way street.
Cheers to the end of an era. I’m really looking forward to our future experiences together, especially when Roger and I enter the workforce. Being in your early and mid-twenties is some of the most transformative periods of your life, and I’m both excited and fearful of how everything is going to turn out. But hopefully, I’ll have Galen incite a volatile decision within my life, Roger to help me navigate through that decision, and Calvin to add some very insightful input to the conversation. I think I’ll be okay if I have you guys.
And on that note, I’ll hand it off to my girl Rachel for a closing remark. I love you guys very much, and hopefully we can all hang out together again very soon.
Some happy moments of my last year as a teenager:
I love my friends and family so much — thank you for always being there for me endlessly and reminding me that I am so loved and supported always.