Dear 15-year-old Me

These letters are doing the rounds this week to celebrate the launch of Emily Freeman’s book Graceful, for teen girls. Check out her fantastic letter and some others here. Since it fit right in with my letter-writing-Friday, I wrote one too.

Hey young lady,

It’s me, your future self. Truth is that I’m not that much older than you but I’m a lot smarter. I want to reassure you of a few things to lighten the load that you burden yourself with. Your worrying keeps you up at night and it holds you back from enjoying these awesome and pain-in-the-arse teenage years, so I hope to allay some of your fears.

First things first, you will be relieved to know I’ve given up my endeavour to be perfect and I’m happier than ever. I’m kinder to myself and I laugh more. It’s so refreshing and I can’t wait for you to experience this. However you’ve got a few tough years ahead of you yet, which is how you will arrive to where I am now.

You have no idea what you are capable of. That frustration you feel with your seemingly talentless self? It will take years (sorry), but it will pass. You will grow, create and learn. You will discover your passions, flourish, and fall into your identity. The years to come of not knowing who you are, they are so important to your development. You will find your place eventually so don’t sweat it too much okay?

You are brave, smart and fun. Try to focus on these things instead of your faults. Like the attention seeking, which you will mostly grow out of. Though you will always be loud and that’s actually a good thing, so ignore the lies that whisper ‘you are too much to handle’. To some people you are too much, but they aren’t the right people for you. You are loved by your friends and people enjoy your energy. So quit wishing you were quiet and demure because that isn’t who you were born to be. And believe it or not, there are plenty of quiet girls that envy your social skills.

You think you’re fat but girrrrl, you ain’t. Enjoy those legs and that cute bum. Soon all that junk food you eat will take residence on your hot bod and you will miss what it is now. I have more confidence than you in my fuller and curvier figure, but you are way hotter.

You can be very melodramatic and self-involved, and it isn’t endearing in the slightest. Stop crying in the mirror for one second to gain some perspective. Your life isn’t that bad, and other people are facing hard times too. Look up and look out. While I’m taking you down a peg, I may as well also inform you that you don’t know everything. You could do with some humility. Wisdom and maturity come from experience, of which you have none. Yet.

The only thing that I deeply regret and wish you would do differently, is how you treat your sweet little sister. That kid adores you and asks you to play a board game with her most days. She is lonely and needs you, but you always say no. The age gap feels more of a chasm, but when she is still young you will go on the adventure of your life and be apart from her for too long. These days she and I are great friends from afar, and though she doesn’t hold it against me, I do. Your time with her is precious so play the damn games. Indulge her. If not for yourself, do it for me. I miss her.

On a final note, don’t take yourself so seriously for heavens sake! You think far too much and we both know how exhausting that is. You’ve had to grow up fast so cherish the naivety you still possess. Stop worrying. You will get your driving license, you will have enough money and you will do great things. You will see the world and find out where you fit into it. You will be happy and create a life that you love. I would know, I’m here waiting for you.

The Lord’s face is shining down on you, so look up and bask in His sunlight. Everything will be okay.

Love
The future you

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Now and Then

We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.  -Lynn Hall

When you are through changing, you are through.  -Bruce Barton

Life changes and we change with it; that’s just how it goes. The weird thing about it is that we can only see how we’ve changed in retrospect. I have been thinking a bit about how I’ve changed since I moved from New Zealand to London in 2008. The experience of moving overseas and travelling has inevitably changed me in a unique way. If I had stayed at home, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I have also changed in age just like everyone else, yet so much can change in those ‘development years’ of 18-21. In some ways I don’t recognise the girl that landed in London almost three years ago, yet in other ways we are still the same person and always will be.

So, who was I then? People have asked me how I moved to London alone at such a young age, with no friends or family living here. To be honest, I don’t know how I did it because I feel more vulnerable now than I did then. I was naturally apprehensive with questions constantly swimming around in my head; what’s it going to be like? Who am I going to meet? Will I be homesick? The concerns of homesickness were very applicable because of the distance between London to New Zealand, and I had only booked a one-way ticket. But I put my head down and didn’t let my fear stop me; I knew it was the right thing to do and that I would be okay. It’s like I had put my running shoes on the day that I decided to go to London. By the time it was time to leave 6 months later, I was ready to run from everything I knew and into the unknown. I was ready to grow up as my own person with nothing to hold me back.

Sadly I was so eager, almost too eager, to grow up. I wanted to leave behind my complicated childhood to a life that I could create myself, without any unwanted additions. It was my dream; to pick and choose who I had in my life and what I did everyday. I was craving independence and a fresh start. I also desperately wanted to be taken seriously; I thought I could do anything and wanted everyone to see through my fun and ditzy persona. Underneath my social façade there was a deep and intense girl. I had flown (quite literally) the nest and was ready to take over the world.

What I didn’t see then, because I lacked the humility and maturity, was that I had so much to learn. If you had given me the world I would have tried my best, but crushed it like a delicate flower in my hand. I was not ready for anything but I thought I was ready for everything. Thanks to some incredible people that I’ve met along the way, I’ve learnt a lot. On the first day of my first job in London, I called my boss ‘dude’ because I didn’t know how to address her. Uh, maybe by her name?! Cringe. However, thankfully, she doesn’t remember this happening and laughed her head off when I recently recounted the horrid memory to her.

My life has changed incredibly since I moved to London. Friends have come and gone, there have been romances, hurts, travels, lessons, trials, amazing ups and very low downs. My whole life I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, even as a kid on the playground I would do whatever it took to hold on to a friend. A few weeks after I finally put my heart in its rightful place as a woman, I met my amazing boyfriend. Life’s funny like that.

So far, there is not one thing I can pinpoint as ‘the reason’ for my moving overseas. I always thought there would be, ‘Ah-ha! That’s why I came here, it all makes sense now’. Now I can see that there are many reasons; I had an incredible job where I learnt a lot that will be the foundation to the rest of my career; I’ve found love, which has softened my heart; I’ve travelled, which is something that cannot be described, only experienced. But more than anything, I’ve grown up, pure and simple. I think that’s why I came to London and the rest is just what’s happened along the way! I am so thankful and consider myself incredibly blessed. And it’s not over yet, I’m still here.

Who am I now? I am more vulnerable because someone has cared enough to teach me how. I am happier because my expectations are realistic. I am more secure because I know that I am loved. I am more confident because I know what my strengths are. I am more mature because I have learnt from my mistakes. I am less hyperactive because I no longer feel the need to seek attention. But while being all of the above, I am also still me. I am still a chatterbox, have bad punctuality and bad financial management, and still struggle with anxiety. Hey, life’s a journey… Hopefully on our death bed’s we’ll all be perfect!

If you gave the world to me now, I would give it back to you. Because even though I have three years more life experience, I know that I can’t take over the world. I know that all I can do is today, and do it well. Each day contributes to the next, and we can only take one at a time.

Then. So excited to be in London, 2008

Now. Barcelona, 2010