When times get tough it’s astonishing how it provides clarity and perspective on all those things you should appreciate most. After attending my third funeral this year so far (for my grandfather, my best friend’s dad as well as a friend I’ve known since I was 19) I wish I’d realised a lot of things when I was younger, particularly at the age of 15 when I really struggled and wasn’t happy…Based on that, I wrote a letter to my younger self to perpetuate how aware I feel now of all that I am grateful for:
“Things are difficult now. You feel frustrated and alone. Right now is one of the least easy periods in your life and you are struggling with having independence thrust upon you when you didn’t feel ready. You are feeling hurt but know that this period in your life might just be one of the pinnacle times in making you who you are today. This experience will make you stronger, more resilient and more determined to have a bloody good time in everything you do.
Your life so far isn’t maybe what you pictured it to be and family seems upside down. Have faith that things will turn out so much for the better. Your parents are no longer together but, in the future, you see how happy they are with their lives now and realise that they were maybe never meant to stay together. You gain a step-mum and your relationship with both parents is the strongest it’s ever been. Realise that many children in this world have no parents; you are lucky enough to have a support network of a mother, father, step-mum and siblings who will be only too happy to attempt to ensure you have everything you could ever need. In return, you want to do the same for them and daydream about all the ways in which you could do this.
You are at a point now where your sisters aren’t around as much as you’d like. Know that this won’t change in the future. They will both live abroad but it just makes it all the more special when you do see them. Both will have beautiful children, as will your brother, so there will be an abundance of nieces and nephews to be proud of and laugh with, laugh at, and hopefully teach the odd life lesson to. You won’t be the baby of the family forever.
Understand that friends come and go. As much as you want them to, the same people do not remain. The people who are meant to be in your life will come to you and stay there. You realise who matters, who never did and who always will. Don’t worry about people from your past either because there is always a reason why they didn’t make it to your future. As you grow older you don’t lose friends, you just learn who the real ones are and when the wrong people leave your life the right things start to happen. Everyone experiences this as they grow up -you find out who you are and what you want then you realise that people you’ve known forever don’t see things they way you do. So, keep the wonderful memories but find yourself moving on. Cherish those who are around you now because they make you laugh, keep you sane and tell you when you’re being a fool. Always remember what Mr. Emerson once wrote: ‘the only way to have a friend is to be one.’
You will meet someone and you will love each other completely. He will make you laugh. He will also make you cry. He will be the best friend you ever had, that one person you can be utterly yourself with and you can tell every little detail of your life to without feeling embarrassed or vulnerable. You will share moments that no one else will ever know of and will only exist between the two of you. You will share the most awesome friends and a mutual dislike of music like Maroon 5 and U2 cos let’s face it, Bono will forever be a complete douche-bag. But, like friendships relationships can come to an end. As you grow up and start finding out who you really are you can also can grow apart from that other person. Love is worth fighting for but you can’t be the only one fighting. At times people need to fight for you. If they don’t, you just have to realise that what you gave them was more than they were willing to give you. The only people you truly need in your life are those who respect you and treasure you.
There is so much time to be spent discovering yourself and it needn’t be painful or empty. Fill yourself up with love, not anyone else. Explore what it is that makes you, you. Now, you have adventures, are happy to dine alone, dress for yourself, smile a lot and give to others. You are pretty damn good at living for yourself and it is really something.
You will sit writing this in a place that feels like home. You will have a great job that is bursting with prospects and a team of colleagues actively encouraging you to be the best and most successful that you can be. You will surround yourself with all the little things that make you smile: clothes you bought with your own money, shoes, scented candles, beautifully soft bedding, peppermint tea (yes, you do eventually end up liking herbal tea), oh and books. Lots of books! Don’t I know how much you love those…They have been, and will remain, a gateway to escapism and your imagination when you need it the most. Your thirst for learning and absorbing information about the world you live in does not wane, it does not dissipate. It only gets stronger. And you still the smell the pages like you always have. Your friends will laugh at you for this, and you will laugh with them because it shows that they recognise this as one of the wonderful quirks that makes you who you are.
The reason for writing this is because things are at the best they have ever been. You are content, happy. You are now, more than at any time previous, at your most confident and self-assured being less concerned with trying to please others and more about looking after number 1. Never lose this – you’d be surprised how much this rubs off on others and how hard others find it to do for themselves.
Mr. Joss Whedon, that fantastical writer of TV programmes, sums it up succinctly for you:
“Bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change. Not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.”
Always look forward, rarely look back.