“Stay honest to yourself and just appreciate the heck out of life,” Kaiwyn writes to his teenage self in an exclusive open letter for Happy Mag.
Earlier this month, Kaiwyn released his latest single The Cut After The First. A guitar-driven reflection on the throes of adolescent romance, the track saw Kaiwyn envision his younger years, with a message especially poignant given that it was written when Kaiwyn was a teenager. “The process of recording a song that I wrote in my teenage years as an adult is quite empowering,” Kaiwyn said of The Cut After The First.
“I was able to learn that growth is ongoing, and we are unconsciously moving forward with time.” It’s a sentiment of maturity that Kaiwyn brings to both his lyricism and his artistry more broadly. Below, the singer-songwriter swings by Happy Mag to trace his years-long musical timeline, and deliver heartfelt affirmations to his younger self.
Spanning his high school years in Kuala Lumpur to his time as a medical school student in Australia, the open letter speaks to an artist assured of his trajectory; with much more music to follow. Read Kaiwyn’s time capsule below, and scroll down to listen to his new single The Cut After The First.
Hi 17-year-old Kaiwyn, this is “Future Kaiwyn” 17 years after! I’ve seen your letters and songs that you’ve written. So, I want to let you in with some tips that might give you some guidance on what to prepare for!
CHASE TOWARDS POSITIVITY, LEARN FROM NEGATIVITY
You are fresh out of high school in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and your results are not what you expected, but it’s okay. You are going to digest that at your own pace and start to explore what’s next in life. You will be indecisive between various passions, but you end up trying your best in everything you do even if you might not feel you do. You carry on anyway even with those doubts, because you hold on to the positive prospects of every endeavour.
BUILD FLEXIBILITY AND TOLERANCE
I know you will feel insecure and fearful of what you can’t predict but you allow space for mistakes and redo. You are going to gently build up that frustration tolerance and repeatedly not blame yourself for the unexpected. You end up trying multiple things- both the creative and academic side of things, upholding your own passions and the virtuous upbringing you had.
FOCUS ON THINGS YOU CAN CONTROL
You will end up deciding to go aboard all alone to Australia and enrol into medical school, and you know for a fact that your passion for music remains. You want to mature a bit more, leaving your comfort zone, but remember to enjoy the development. You don’t need to rush yourself to grow up quicker than you already have!
There will be times when you’ll struggle and feel homesick, but you cope by not going down the path of catastrophic thinking. You process them by writing it in your blog, poems and even into songs, which I am currently recording for you to get them formalised. *chuckles* You continue working hard and graduate medical school and wound up in a nice country town for internship and residency.
PEOPLE GROW AND CHANGE TOGETHER WITH YOU
Going into full time medical work, you are going to make a lot of friends and lose a lot of friends. Get ready for lots of overtime and a rapid turnover in your routines! Also, remember you can’t save everyone at work, you try your best and that’s all they can ask for. That’s just life. Limitations are not always restrictive in a sense. So, appreciate every single person that waltzes into your life but just try not to please everyone at your own expense!
But you gradually learn about it the hard way and cumulatively build your navigation skills around interpersonal relationships. Just remember that as we are growing and changing, others are too. So have empathy for them as well for yourself. You will absorb this knowledge and process this guilt as you grow, as I am still actively learning, even at my current age.
BE COMPASSIONATE TO YOURSELF THEN OTHERS
Reflection is a strong skill that you will gain as you acquire more life experience. You will adapt to situations where you always ensure your own safety first before responding to another person’s crisis. But I know deep down, that giving nature of yours is still going to linger and even to this day, I still remind myself to not go above and beyond for others at risk of losing myself.
It’s okay to say no and take yourself out of conflicts. And remember that you don’t need to explain or give people the closure you think they might need. Confrontations are not always necessary. Even if you think you know something, you don’t have to divulge. Silence speaks for itself.
NOTHING’S EVER TOO LATE TO ACTION
You are turning 30 and you will feel people around you react more devastatingly than your own self, sending you a checklist to complete before the big 30. But just take your own time, nothing’s ever too late to initiate once you make an informed decision. Well, there will be a global event that would impact on your work life, and you would feel a bit burnt out.
Well, not just you, the whole world will feel it too. But you always take the step you need to balance your soul. You start recollecting all these songs that you have written and decide to show it to a local producer. You will feel revitalised with this song production process even though still having all those doubts, uncertainty from back then.
You’ll accept the fact that you are starting the formal music production at a later age and lay your comparing mindset to rest, as you have been preparing all along for this moment. So just enjoy it and don’t overthink it!
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FOCUS ON LIVING IN THE PRESENT
And now, at double the age, with all those life lessons under your belt, you still have moments where you tend to dwell in the past and worry about the future, it never really goes away and it’s okay. The difference is that you are more aware that everything is never fully under your control, and it doesn’t trigger as much fear as it has before, you’ll have your peace with it.
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You want to just focus on the positive memories of the past, live in the moment and go on day by day with the resilience and support systems that you have built. Stay honest to yourself and just appreciate the heck out of life Kaiwyn, you’ve got this, I believe in you!