Dear Dean Winchester,

deardeanwinchester

So this is a letter that’s been a long time coming. It’s also a letter that I’m a little nervous about, because whoa shit do I let slip some of how crazy I really am here.

Because Dean, I get you. Which I’m sure you don’t believe, and are probably making some sarcastic-ass remark about it now. And I can’t say I blame you for that. Because on the surface, we couldn’t be more different. I grew up in a stable, loving home, with both my parents and sisters in a normal house with a backyard and dogs and all those apple-pie white picket fence clichés. (Coincidentally, I make a ridiculously awesome apple pie after learning from my grandma. If you ever want to try it just give me a heads up) But anyway, getting to the point-

It’s the monsters inside us that make us similar. I don’t mean literal monsters, though you’ve seen your share of that. I mean us. Our own minds, and the way they twist every thought, every interaction, every memory to turn us into someone we don’t want to be. Because it’s not a voice in your head, not some demon or monster that’s telling you horrible things, it’s you yourself. Tormenting yourself, telling you that nothing you do will ever help in the end anyone in the end, because you yourself are worthless. Living in fear that everyone you love will leave you, and pushing them away because you know they should leave you. Because even though you push down every useless emotion that might get in the way, you still aren’t good enough at the job you assigned yourself- taking care of everyone else.

We spend our lives trying to do good, because our minds tell us we are worthless. We know the best we can do is devote our lives to penance for the sin of existing in the first place- because we feel that the world would have been better off without us being born.

And yeah, it makes zero sense, thinking that way. We know it’s not true, but convincing ourselves that is a whole other thing entirely. We’re fucked up, Dean. I mean, like, clinically fucked up. If you’re curious, the “diagnosis” that fits us is Borderline Personality Disorder. It helps if you’ve got a messed up life to start with, but it can develop in just about anyone. I can cross off most of the checklist of traits that lead to a diagnosis. I’ve checked- you can go ahead call yourself a classic presentation. And holy shit does it hurt. I try to fight the feelings. And I’m getting better, I really am. Sometimes, anyway. I do things for people now because I want to, not because I’m afraid they’ll abandon me if I don’t. But it’s hard.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… watching you and Sam struggle against evil, fighting with all your will, and doing real good in the world, sacrificing so much… well, I suppose if someone who does all that can still hate himself as much as you do…  Dean, you’re so wrong about yourself, which means that maybe I’m just as wrong about myself too.

We might be fucked up. Crazy. Completely unhinged at times. But we still matter. We’re still worthwhile. I’m gonna chose to believe that, no matter what my fucked up mind tells me otherwise. I hope you’re able to do the same.

Sincerely,

A friend (and pie-maker)

 

 

Dean Winchester is from the televsion series Supernatural

Dear Alaska Young

dearalaskayoung

You deserved better. That’s not something I say very often, mostly because I have very mixed feelings towards the word “deserve”. In general, I think people use it too frequently. Humankind, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve anything, good or bad. We cling to that sense of entitlement- that good people “deserve” to have good things happen to them, and bad people “deserve” to have bad things happen to them. When in reality, we just exist.

I think you’ll understand that? It does play into the idea of the labyrinth, after all. We are simply dropped into it, no judgment, no reasoning. It’s just what existence is and all people, good or bad, exist in their own labyrinth. So, why do I say you deserve better, when clearly people shouldn’t expect to deserve anything?

It’s not because of how Miles and your other friends treated you. Nor is it a comment on your author, killing you off mid story, mid sentence of your life. It’s just that… I guess it’s just a personal feeling, not a grand-existential-finding-meaning-in-the-universe thing. Your story helped save me. Not in a big turned-my life-completely-around kind of way, nothing like that. But you helped me understand myself, see myself in a different light. And I just wish you had lived to have the same thing happen to you.

You were a mystery to be solved, Alaska, at least when I first read your book. I didn’t see you as you really were- the lost, lonely, frightened young woman who wanted desperately to be forgiven. To feel like she mattered, that she was good. That she was worth loving. I couldn’t see those things in you, because I didn’t want to see them in myself. It was easier to see you as an enigma. To see my own mental state as an enigma. It was easier to focus on a Great Perhaps that to look hard at the people around me, and at myself.

I say you deserve better because… you were there for me at a time when I couldn’t be there for myself and the people around me had no idea what to do for me. You were a mirror that helped me see myself more clearly, and because of that, I was able to begin to heal. And despite everything I hate about the word “deserve”, I wish you had lived to see yourself begin to heal. I wish you had learned what it was like to believe you deserved love. I wish that you had lived to forgive yourself. Does the universe owe you that? No, not really.

But after all you’ve done for me… I feel like I do.

Love always,

A friend

 

 

Alaska Young is from the novel Looking for Alaska by John Green

Dear Kamala Khan,

dearkamalakhan

You are so awesome. Seriously. You are my hero.

Your story is wonderful and it just… ugh I have so many feelings when I read your comics. Because you’re so different than the usual superhero we see these days, and in the best possible ways. Kamala, you’re a teenage girl who actually acts like a teenage girl. You’re a nerd. You geek out when you meet your heroes. You write fan fiction! And that didn’t change just because you started saving the world. Well, okay, Jersey City, but still! I think you’d really appreciate the meta that is your series. Do you know they write fan fiction about you now? And draw fan art? And dress up as Ms. Marvel for comic book conventions! I bet you’d be ridiculously excited to see all that. I know I would be. (Okay well, knowing what we both know about what happens in a lot of fan fiction and fan art, you’re probably not excited to see all of it). And I see so much of myself in you, because man, I am a huge nerd. I am awkward and dorky and I just feel so… average.

And maybe I am average. But that’s okay. You showed me that you can be an average young nerd girl, unsure and insecure and constantly second-guessing yourself, and still be a hero. I’m not Muslim. Or Pakistani. I’m not the child of immigrants. I look like the standard American girl. So that part of you, I can only empathize with, but not truly understand. But there are still things about myself that I wish I could change. And there are other times where I wish people would just accept me exactly the way I am. Just like you do.

Kamala, you showed me that you don’t have to be 100% secure in yourself to be a hero. You don’t have to always know what you’re doing or what you stand for. A hero can have doubts, be confused, not just about their cause but also about themselves. And that’s totally okay. Because well… I always think about that quote you brought up.

“Good is a not a thing you are. It’s a thing you do.”

A person doesn’t have to be perfect to do good. They don’t even have to be great. I can be myself, awkward and insecure and nerdy and still be a hero. Or at least, do right by others. You taught me that.

Also can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that your story isn’t all grim/dark like everything else seems to be these days? I mean, it’s just so refreshing to read about someone who isn’t depressed and broken and bitter all the time. Yeah, you struggle, but you’re an optimist too, and that’s nice to see. I guess we can blame all the Nolan/Batman stuff for that, at least in part, but it does get old after a while. I like reading about someone who’s cheerful and fun, you know? And funny! Seriously, I wish we could hang out and just be giant nerds together, which is not something I’d say about any other super hero.

Kamala, keep kicking ass. You rock! But please, don’t forget- don’t compromise who you are to do it. Please remember to hold on to that awkward nerd girl while you save the world.

Stay awesome, and love always,

Your friend

 

 

Kamala Khan is a Marvel Comics character created by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona

Dear Hamlet

dearhamlet

You’re an asshole. That’s right, I said it. And on some level, I bet you agree with me, because you’ve got that whole philosophy student bullshit going. That seems strange, right? I’m insulting you because you are intelligent, well-learned, studying great works of great philosophers? No. However, to be fair, I am saying these things to you because I’m not able to say them to a person you remind me of- thankfully, they’re gone from my life forever.

You’re both a very specific type of philosophy student, one who suffers from what I like to call “the vanity of self-loathing”. It’s something I saw a lot of in college. Guys like that are everywhere at universities. Simply put, you think that because you are critical of yourself and your own behaviors, it somehow means you are better than other people. You pride yourself on your self-loathing, because if you think if you actually liked yourself, that would mean you were stupid and unaware. You see everyone who isn’t constantly self-critical as lesser. Unintelligent. Oblivious. That’s what makes you an asshole.

You were cruel to Ophelia, who thought for a brief moment that she was someone special- someone worthy enough to be loved from someone so high above her. And then, you made her hate herself. All because she distracted you from what you saw as your higher calling. Perhaps, if you allowed yourself a moment for guilt, you might have regretted that. But you never did understand how your actions really affected others. Your vanity never did allow you to see the real issues.

He was cruel to me too. I’ll admit, I might be projecting, a little bit. (You’re still an asshole, though.) He also refused to look at the world through anyone else’s eyes. His philosophy was the only correct one. Of course, he’d never say that, and he’d never take credit for that philosophy, that vanity. There was always some new philosopher who he named as his teacher, his inspiration. It didn’t matter. The results were the same no matter whom he professed to study. He would make lists of his flaws, always missing the ones that really mattered. He confided in me, he made me feel special, made vows and promises of eternal devotion. Sound familiar?

Then one day I was no longer convenient. No longer fit into his master plans. And he threw me aside, as heartlessly as you did Ophelia. I blamed myself, like she did. It took a long time to undo that damage, but I survived. She didn’t though. And while I’m sure you mourned, you never did accept the blame.

Of course you didn’t accept the blame. You were self-critical and self-deprecating and self-loathing, but never for the right reasons. Your second greatest fault is being oblivious to your real mistakes. (I won’t try and argue that your indecisiveness isn’t your greatest flaw). You think you cannot be vain, because you hate yourself. But the truth is you put yourself above others for not participating in your self-loathing philosophies.

People who hate themselves are not better than people who love themselves. Loving yourself is hard- much, much harder than hating yourself. It requires such strength of will that it takes some people a lifetime to learn it.

Oh Hamlet. You are complex, you are intelligent, you are confused, and you are fascinating. But most of all, you are an asshole.

And so was he.

Sincerely,

An Actress

 

 

Hamlet is from the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare