A Letter of Advice From an Unexpected Individual

Yunqing Han

My Anonymous Correspondent,

“Qui habet aures, audiendi audiat.”

He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 11:15

Perhaps my writing to you is a surprise. Welcome or unwelcome, this reply needn’t make you feel astonished or alarmed. I only entreat that you pay heed to my advice with the degree of solemnity it rightfully deserves. You will come to realize the simplicity of this task, I’m assured; there is no difficulty in it, granted you perceive the gravity of your circumstance.

I have received your letter and sympathize with your troubles, as a student and a young woman, ergo I write you your response: It grieves me that you have fallen prey to one of the gravest, most antagonistic perils known to man—cowardice. While you continue to sit idle, latent with your musings, you abase yourself and your posterity. Your reluctance insults you. Your torpidity and indifference devastates you. Your dormancy poisons you. Quite harsh are my words, but not without reason. As I aforementioned, the universal truth maintains that it is a shame to recognize our rejected thoughts in others’ works, and afterwards deem them majestic, and even look upon the speaker with envy. Is this not so? Indeed, it is an indisputable disgrace. How dare you—I ask you genuinely—how could you possibly dare to continue your admiration, when the very ideas you idolize coincide with the original thoughts you so foolishly abandoned? And however could you remark, in hindsight, that the notion you willingly neglected, now finding its new owner, once belonged to you? Certainly, you couldn’t. You have been much affected by society, I am afraid. Plagued by the conventional, and your persistent care for what others may say or think of you. A natural tragedy that befalls nearly every man today. Understand that while you are not alone in this frame of mind, it is nowhere near acceptable. As I have said, “God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”

 No man can escape or violate his nature, yet it is of the highest importance he tries; he must learn to believe his own thoughts, to put his heart into his work, to live without senseless contrition of his past or useless caution for his future, to exhibit virtue and despise hypocrisy, to know his worth, and to confidently overrule the judgment of his peers. You are industrious, I find—though you are enslaved by your own self-doubt: the limitations you think exist are nothing but hogwash. Take pride in your work, and see value in your originality, and you will come to see, my friend, that the passion within you is to be treasured. Let it not go to waste.

I realize my tone heretofore might be regarded as strident. Take into consideration this: “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” Give yourself credit, and the path you walk down will become far smoother. I trust you will, henceforth, carry yourself with a determined dignity, and arm yourself with the knowledge that you are—let us hope—once and for all—a woman of your convictions, and a woman of courage. Let no one deprive you of this!

Sincerely yours,

R.W. Emerson