I picked up a lovely little book a month or so ago, from K-Mart of all places. Writing letters to their 16 year old self, it features celebrities from my beloved Stephen Fry through to Tracey Emin, Elton John, Kim Wilde and more from all over the world. The letters are heart-wrenching at times, lovely all the way through and should give quite a kick in the bum to get people moving out of the ‘parked-in-front-of-the-TV’ coma that grips us.
So here is my contribution:
You still haven’t decided on how you want your name to be spelt, you definitely haven’t decided on what you want to do with your life, and while you need to choose many things, you do know that you don’t want to live in Eastbourne for the rest of your days. So as you struggle to find your path through the next years of upheaval, rest assured, in the future you will live almost as far away as you possibly can from Eastbourne.
Please don’t waste your time being jealous of people who seem to know everything. What they actually know is no more than you do; but what they can do is to portray a good image of knowing everything. Hold your head up high and have faith in yourself that when the crunch comes, you will know what the right decisions are for you and you’ll hang onto them tight with both hands. It won’t be easy learning when to make those choices, sometimes you will choose wrong, only when you look back in hindsight will you see that – but when you know better, you do better (I promise). You just need to see it first, so don’t ignore the “God winks” that keep sending you the same message.
As hard as it feels now after the death of your beloved Nanny and Granny, just a few short months apart, you will learn to remember them with joy and happiness, looking back on the influence that they had over your life with pride. I know this period in your life is so dark, you feel that you will never find the way to the light again, and at times you truly feel the world will be a better place without you in it, but hang on in there. You will bring tears of joy to the cheeks of your friends, you will find someone who loves you for who you are, and you will eventually learn that your sense of self-worth is not linked to anyone but yourself. Although, I am sorry to say there is a far harder journey than this ahead, it will only happen when you are ready for it. It will also open your eyes to opportunities that you never thought possible, soon your life will be bigger and better than you ever can imagine. Believe me when I tell you, you are stronger than you realise. Some would say stubborn or bloody minded, while both those qualities will stand you in good stead when you need them, but remember they can also frustrate others, so relax a little!
People will turn to you for advice; in all sorts of places and situations people will ask your opinion and listen to the answers you give them, this will help guide you on your true calling. Don’t lose your intuition and astuteness around people, it will too help guide you on your way, and often astonish people when they realise how you can see right to the heart of them with your gimlet eye. While you will remain hopeless at remembering birthdays, you give unexpected presents that people need when they least expect them. Books will also find their way to you when you need them too. People who you have never met will show they have faith in you and your abilities. You are still seeking, still learning how you fit into the world, so let the people you trust guide you, shape you.
While you hate swimming, the majority of your best friends will be found splashing around next to you in pools, in fact the majority of your best friends you will meet at work, so don’t worry about not being a natural joiner and being painfully shy, people do see past that and see you. But also recognise that friendships have ‘best before’ dates and that not all your friends will remain in your life forever. People are sent to you to teach you what you need to learn from them, no more, no less. Learning to let people go is easier than trying to keep the bonds alive when they have been broken, and while it will break your heart at times to say goodbye to people, this is your life so you have to live it the best way you know how.
On that note, also please don’t let people dictate what you can and can’t do, they are not living your life – you are! So think about it a little. Get your head out of the crappy books you read because they are easy, and choose some harder ones, they will stretch you and open your eyes to the possibility of all sorts of dreams. Don’t be afraid to scribble in and highlight these books too; they will become your guides when you need a reminder of where you are going, the flags you’ve placed in them will show you the way. Take time to think about what you want, dream big and above all else, remember that you can choose what you want out of life, you just need to have some idea of where you want to go.
I know you won’t believe this but – one day you will stand on the most Eastern point of Australia in tears at how much crap life has thrown at you, and wonder that you can look on Byron Bay and marvel at its beauty, just thinking ‘Woo-hoo, look where I am now!’ And when you look back at the photos of yourself by the lighthouse, for once in your life you won’t think about how ugly you are, you only see the joy shining in your eyes. (By the way, you are not ugly, far from it. All your life people will be amazed when you open up and tell them how little you think of yourself, and while it will take you a long time to feel comfortable in your skin, don’t rush it.) The man that took you there, while he got off to a shaky start, be patient with him, he truly was sent and made for you. So don’t tell him to bog off too early as he will cheer you on more than anyone else will, and he lets you live your life, not suffocates you with what he thinks you ought to do.
Be strong darling girl, you change your name and your telephone numbers a lot, but you won’t change who you really are. And people love you for it.