A Letter to: James

Dear James,

There’s a million ways I could start this off, but since I want to be brief, I’ll just pick the simplest: Hi, there! I think I just heard a gunshot outside my home! Well, I guess that’s America for you!

Don’t worry, though; I’m okay, and I’m also sorry for that random interjection; I just tend to get carried away when writing, especially letters, so lots of tangents of that sort end up making their way in. But, I’m not gonna lie, I really don’t mind them; they make all this fluff and small talk seem a bit more real and intimate…which is why they never end up making their way back out! So, hopefully you like them, too, because they’re here to stay!

Okay, so enough with that. James, if you couldn’t already tell, I am writing you a letter. Sorry that it’s only on virtual paper and in virtual ink, but making a real one and physically mailing it to you just isn’t ideal, as much as I hate typed (and, uh, publicly posted) letters. They just seem so inconsiderate. But, like I said, due to both your situation and mine, this is most ideal, for you’d never see this if I hand-wrote and mailed it. At least this way, there’s a slight possibility you’ll stumble into it. Not that it matters either way; in all honesty, I’m only doing this for my own fun–and also because I care about you, but mostly just for my own selfish fun.

Aren’t I horrible??

Now where do I begin? Hmmm…I really don’t know! But I guess that’s what I get for waiting until late, late at night to do my writing. Well then, I should apologize, for this is probably going to suck and not make any sense at all because of that. So sorry. But hopefully, due to its suckiness, it will at least teach you to not procrastinate (or over-commit yourself), if nothing else.

So, I wrote the original version of this letter last August (which probably seems crazy, but since I’m a writer, it’s actually totally normal), and that was because you were someone I avidly admired and followed; not idolized, for that’s a sin, but admired, felt a connection to due to work ethic and talent. You were someone (other than God) who I looked to for inspiration and motivation. All in all, keeping up with your life in part drove me to keep up with mine.

But here’s the thing: That’s not why I was writing you the letter. That’s actually the furthest reason from why I was writing you the letter. Last year, I was writing to you simply because I, well, uh, at that time…hated you.

Aaaawwwwkwwaaaaarrrrd…..

Okay, so I truthfully didn’t hate you; I’m actually completely incapable of hating anyone. But I was starting to dislike the way you were acting. Why? Well, I really don’t know. I think it may have had something to do with my general nerdiness. When I first stumbled upon you (way before your band ever made it big), you were kind of just like me: a huge English and reading and writing nerd who just wanted to live a happy life (or so that’s what I gathered). But as time moved on and your band slowly but surely became more and more famous, I saw something in you changing. It was very subtle at first, but after awhile, I began really noticing that you started portraying yourself as less and less of the nerd and more and more of the…cool, hot, talented jock-type? I don’t really know how to describe it, but that’s what it seemed to be. And I didn’t like it. I mean, how could I ever enjoy witnessing a fellow nerd suddenly try to show himself as someone like that? (No offense to anyone who really is like that, but, as fellow nerds know, it’s just a weird type of person to ever think about becoming.)

But I think it’s important to note that I thought it was all for show. Like, it seemed as if you thought you’d get more attention from the masses if you changed your image, and so you went ahead and did just that. And that’s what did it for me, what made me start “hating” you (which, again, really isn’t even hate at all). To me, based on the drastic changes in the content of your Twitter and Instagram (regarding both the actual feeds and the personal bios, as I’m sure you’re aware of), it seemed that you were almost saying that the old you wasn’t good enough — that people like me aren’t good enough — and that you’d rather be a completely different person in order to have fame.

I’m sure you can see why this would make me dislike you. Plain and simple, watching this shift in behavior made me believe you were fake, were doing what you were for all the wrong reasons, and, talent aside, that made you, in my mind, someone unworthy of my time (for lack of better, less pretentious-sounding words).

And so I (as funny as it may sound) really cut you out of my life. At that point, your band’s album had been released, you stopped uploading covers of songs (which are still my most favorite things ever, and I highly recommend you taking them up again), everything you posted on Twitter was either a comment for another fan or an update on the band’s success, everything you posted on Instagram was really only of your food or your face or your body (none of which really interest me, no offense), and so I just really had no personal connection left to you. And with me believing you were becoming a not so great lad, well, I just figured it would be best if I let you go. So I did, for months and months.

But, like with anyone who was once near and dear but has been let go due to various unforeseen circumstances, I still thought about you here and there and occasionally checked in on you to see how you were doing, for as much as I disliked you at the time, I still wondered whether or not you were okay. Like a concerned mother or sister, even though I didn’t like the way you were behaving, I still felt the need to stay and touch, to make sure you weren’t crossing the line too much. (As if I could do anything about it!)

So I guess this would be a good time for me to fully explain my “hating” thing; as I said before, like a concerned mother or sister, I always only dislike a behavior of a person, never the actual person himself, which is why I can never ever truly hate anybody. Even if I tell myself I hate someone, I really don’t; really, I’m just ticked off at something they’ve done.

Hopefully that all makes sense.

So now that that’s clarified, hopefully you’ll understand why (or at least think it less weird) that after a few months of wanting nothing to do with you (except for the occasional health check-in), I suddenly wanted to figure out why you even tried to change at all. I wanted to understand you better so that I could maybe begin liking you again, all of you, behaviors included. Why? Well, because I don’t like grudges/the general act of not liking someone, that’s why.

And so that’s what my letter way back in August was about: me figuring you out by “talking to you” — which was really only me talking to myself, I know, but it’s a heck of a lot better than sitting there doing nothing due to you not being there in the flesh to discuss your life/challenge my beliefs with, right? 

Right…

But how did it all go?

Well, I will be the first to admit that I will never figure you out, first of all  because I don’t know you, which means that anything I can ever know about you will never really make me know you, and second of all because, even if I did ever get to legitimately know you, no one can ever truly know one another, thanks be to deep, dark secrets and a lack of mind-reading capabilities . (And, as my old philosophy professor said in a lecture once, with much conviction, “believing that you can do so is a disease!” And, yes, he was referring to the aforementioned idea of fully getting to know people. I know, I know: What a jolly man was he!)

And so I can never make any accurate statements regarding who you are because I will never truly know you; only you will ever know the truth about yourself.

But still, I wrote that letter to you in August. Still, I “held a conversation” with you in my head, and from it, I still somehow ended up figuring something about you out. (Or so I think. Again, only you will ever know if I’m really right or not.)

Am I crazy for doing this? Well, I say no; I mean, this is what happens with all writing ever, isn’t it? The author simply talks to himself. And when there are hundreds — even thousands — of wonderful, thoughtful, life-changing works out there that have come from this, well, I just can’t help but still say no, you shouldn’t dismiss me as crazy yet.

Yet.

Anyway, because of the…interesting method I used to learn about you and also because I’m a very busy bee — as well as because I’m incredibly shy and really honestly find no point in doing this whatsoever — I’ve been keeping this all to myself for about 10 months now. However, for some reason only our great God knows (because I sure as heck don’t!), I’ve finally decided to share it with you, as weird as that may seem. And so, without further ado (for this is already incredibly long-winded, as per my usual), here is what that epiphany-of-sorts was:

You had changed, but you really hadn’t changed at all.

Talk about deep profound, and something out of a melodrama, right?

Wrong.

No, it was really quite obvious. The signs were all there the whole time; I was just too stupid, too blinded by biases that lead to dislike, to see it all for what it really was, to see you for who you really are. (Which absolutely kills the journalist in me, might I add.)

All that time while I was taking you to be some sort of fake, fame-worshiping narcissist, you were really none of that at all. You were just a man going through a personal transformation, a humble dude from a tea-loving island experiencing an in-to-out metamorphosis of sorts. But not a bad one.

All in all, you had simply embarked on the journey of discovering who you really are, which is perfectly alright, is something that should be celebrated, even. But there I was internally dissing you the entire time. The good thing is, though, that when I found this out, I very suddenly started hating myself rather than you; how could I be so dumb, so cruel, as to take an innocent journey of the self and turn it, in my mind, into a once good man adopting an abhorrent way of life?

You weren’t narcissistic or careless or fame-obsessed or any of the negative stamps I had put on you. No, you were simply being the good guy that you always have been (and [hopefully] always will be) and only trying to adjust to the drastically new lifestyle you were living in the kindest, most proper way possible. You were doing nothing more than keeping friends, family, and fans up to date on yourself, keeping the people who worry and care about you most assuaged and in the loop. Those little comments to fans and many selfies that I found so silly before were suddenly incredibly understandable, commendable, even; you were just trying to tell people not to worry because you’re a good kid doing good things, and the fact that I completely overlooked that made me hate myself — makes me hate myself. It’s just horrible of me!

It’s embarrassing misunderstanding anything, but misunderstanding a good person and thus regarding him as bad? That’s a whole new level, and I’m ashamed to have reached it. As (normally) a very good person and very good judge of character, I never thought I was capable of doing something like this. But we all surprise ourselves by doing the seemingly impossible every once in awhile, right? Because nothing is ever impossible; things are merely improbable.

Unfortunately, though, the seemingly impossible (a.k.a. improbable) isn’t always a good thing.

And so I want to apologize for my misunderstanding. As stupid and pointless and laughable and meaningless as this all is, I just can’t live with myself if I never make it known that I have greatly wronged such an amazing person by mistaking him as quite the opposite. So I am sorry. With all of my heart, I am sorry, and I truly hope that you forgive me.

You know, as I’m writing this, I’m still wondering what the point of it all even is. Why am I sharing this with you, with the world? You see, like with most things in my life, I just really don’t know; I simply do stuff and see what happens, never really ever knowing anything about any of it at all, just blindly hoping that the pieces may all fall into place one day and not cause something horrible to happen because of it. And I’m definitely still feeling that this letter is just another case — although, I’ve never had hopes for anything to come of it and was never planning to share it in the first place. It’s just that earlier on today, I got a strange, sudden urge to do so, and so I did. But I still have no idea why. Like I said, this is all really quite dumb.

Well, whatever the reason behind all this is, I guess I should at least share what this incident has taught me, for I can’t just leave the letter off with an “I hate myself and am sorry and am so confused.” That’s not fulfilling enough, at least not for me. So, through this all, I’ve learned a very important lesson, and that is one of open-mindedness. Sure, it’s not like I’ve ever been some closed-minded jerk whom everyone else hates, but, clearly, as this experience shows, I still have some opening of the mind to do. If I can be so easily blinded, so easily fooled into believing that a good man is actually bad, then something is off with the acceptance levels of my brain. And so they need to be adjusted accordingly.

Which means that the lesson I took from you was this: that good and bad is all up to perspective; a good man in one’s eyes can be bad in another’s, and who’s to say that any of them are even that bad (or good) at all? Like I said, it’s all due to perspective, all up to personal biases that have somehow shaped our minds into seeing certain behaviors and actions in certain good or bad ways. And so, James McVey, you have taught me to stop it with perspectives, to end judgments that my personal biases naturally lead me to believe, and to begin the perpetual act of really getting to know. Even though doing such is apparently a “disease,” well, it really doesn’t seem like that bad of a disease to have to me. And I must say that I’d certainly rather be ill in that way than in the way I was before. Yes, I think I’d rather die a thousand time over from the pain of trying to get to know everyone in the world than even once from the pain of knowing that I may have thought of someone wrong, and I have only you to thank for that.

So, once again, I’m sorry, James McVey, but I also thank you for this invaluable lesson that you so indirectly taught me. Hopefully one day I can be honored enough to actually both apologize to and thank you in person, but until then, just know that I’m keeping you — keeping this — forever in my mind so that I may never screw up so badly again. You’ve made me a better person, James, and you will continue to do so in the future. And I just wanted you to know that.

So maybe this had a point after all? Well, even if it still doesn’t, it at least feels good to get this off my chest. Not that it was really weighing me down that much, anyway, but still. It just feels nice.

Okay, so enough of the ramblings of mine. James, thank you one final time, and I again hope to one day cross your path. You’re a wonderful person; don’t let it change. (Or do. Who am I to judge?)

With love always,
Leah

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