Write a Letter to Your Teenage Self
30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day 23
You are ready to make your way in the big, bad world. You are 17-years-old. You have finished school and about to leave home. You lie on the grass outside your high school, listening to (Sittin’ on) The Dock Of the Bay by Otis Redding. That song will always remind you of this day; I am listening to it now as I write this letter.
The sun shines down on you and you taste the freedom in the air.
At this point in your life, you can’t imagine anything different to living in this city. You wonder what it will be like when you are 21, 30, 40. But you can’t picture it.
My younger self, there are a few things you need to know.
You wouldn’t recognise me as you, almost 20 years older. This is no bad thing. Experiences will change you. People you meet will influence you. People you love will support you. I figure you can work that all out for yourself though.
The thing is, you will find it hard to imagine being back on that grass, listening to that song and feeling the way you felt that day. You will find it difficult to recollect all the names of the people you went to school with, mainly because you have a terrible memory, this only gets worse!
So much is going to happen to you. The thing I want you to know is that the good FAR outweighs the bad, thanks to some of the wonderful people you will meet along the way.
Let’s start with the tough stuff first.
What I need to tell you is that you are strong. Stronger than you can ever imagine. The 17-year-old you would never believe it. You are timid and unsure. But, I promise you, it is true.
I am sorry to say that over the next 20 years you are going to lose people. Some of those will be long and drawn out, others will be sudden and throw you completely. You will get through it. You won’t feel like you will ever be whole again at the time, but time is a funny thing. It might never fully heal but it does become easier. Don’t worry, you will never forget them. I know you will be concerned about that. Time doesn’t fade your memories for those whom you love and you will miss them dreadfully. You will be able to keep going though. You will be able to be happy.
The inner strength you need is not just for this though. You are going to need to be strong again and again.
One time in particular, you are going to need to physically fight back. And, you will fight back. You will surprise yourself. Bad people are out there in this world and you never expect them to come to your door. Unfortunately, they do. That’s life; I know that now. At the time, you will wonder: why me? You will beat yourself up about it and it will get you down.
It will have an effect on your mental health. My advice to you, if I could change anything, is get help sooner. Those dark shadows that loom over you in your restless sleep won’t go away on their own. The anxiety is going to remain until you speak to someone about it.
At this point in your life, you don’t want to admit defeat. You are too stubborn for your own good. Determined to get by on your own (some things never change). I want to tell you it is okay. Counselling is going to save you; please go sooner. It will turn your world around. You are lucky, you have an incredible support network around you, you have people who care and help you. As terrible as this ordeal is and as difficult as it is to get over, you will get through it. I know this is a cliché, but it does make you stronger.
At the end of your recovery, I hate to tell you, you are going to lose a much wanted baby. You have a feeling something isn’t right from the time you see those two lines on the pregnancy test. Your instincts are right, I’m afraid. This will hurt in a way you have never felt before. But rest assured there is light at the end of this tunnel. It feels like you are in constant darkness at that moment. It will change. I promise you that. You are about to enter into the happiest time of your life.
A subsequent pregnancy test is going to change everything forever. You wonder if it is twins; you joke about it and, my friend, it turns out you are right. They are a beacon of light for you and your husband. They are going to change your world.
You are going to need to be strong again though, I am sorry to tell you.
You, my 17-year-old-self, have a fear of childbirth. You have always felt like it is never going to be straight forward. Something inside you, a nagging feeling, that you have always worried about. I don’t know how you know. I am afraid you are right.
Birth is going to be the most amazing and difficult time for you. You are going to be ill afterwards. Extremely ill. From an illness you have never heard of. Your loved ones are going to be sitting by your bedside wondering if you will make it. You will need to be strong again. Don’t worry, you will be. As I said before, you are far stronger than you think. And afterwards, you walk out of that hospital with twins, whom you love with all your heart.
Moving on. I have another thing we need to chat about. Spare time. You have no idea what this means at 17. All your time is ‘spare’. It will remain that way for a long time yet. Please don’t waste it. Endless days in the pub or watching back-to-back boxsets is great but why not use some of that time to start your blog. Imagine what you could do with it if you actually had spare hours in the day. Get out there and see more of the world.
The time will come, old friend, when spare time will be a distant memory. The time will come when 8am is a lie in, I kid you not. When you stay up past ten, you start to panic that it is getting too late. When you fall asleep on the sofa most nights… hold on, you do that anyway… never mind.
I know you want to hear the good stuff. Well, my friend, there are so many good things I don’t know where to start. So many lovely experiences that will make you smile whenever you think about it. I don’t want to spoil them and ruin the surprise.
What I will say to you is this: I mentioned above you have people who care for you. That is an understatement.
You have such a great family, they are truly amazing and you are so lucky to have them in your life. You will grow up and move away to new adventures. But, they will always be there for you, loving you and talking to you on FaceTime (I am not going to try to explain what FaceTime is – it will blow your mind – but it’s a little like Back to the Future II).
You are going to meet an amazing man, actually you will meet him for the first time in a few months time. You are not going to know this at the time, but you will marry him. His family will become your family. I don’t mean just on paper, I mean in your heart. He will be such a support to you through the toughest moments, loving you and winding you up with his terrible jokes. Unfortunately, he is going to pass this sense of humour onto your boys… sorry about that.
As I have mentioned already, you have twins. Crazy or what?! They are your life. They are a beacon of light when you need it most, just as you imagined. They are cheeky, funny and sometimes naughty. There will be times when you will be delirious with sleep deprivation. That first year is hard. It gets easier though. When you see their eyes sparkle as they laugh, they will make life worth living. One peace of advice though: never let them watch Topsy and Tim. Please don’t do it to yourself. That theme tune will stick in your head.
Last, but by no means least, your friends are amazing. Some friends you have had for many years; some who will come into your life later. Either way, you are lucky. They are there for you. You may be miles away but they are there for you at the drop of a hat. Always appreciate that.
Oh, and see when you meet that girl when you first move to Bristol? You plan to meet up for a drink but never do? A long while later your paths will cross again and you will be best friends. Please meet up for that drink a little sooner, you need her in your life.
Goodbye, good luck and enjoy the ride!
Like this post? Then check out Leaving Home.