Letter to my 20 year old self
How are you? I know, I know, of course I know how much you despise when people ask you that as you never know if to answer it superficially or if you should go in depth as to how you are really feeling. Well, have no fear as within a few years, you will come up with a stock answer and learn expertly how to deflect that question. You will learn social skills, slowly but surely, you will accept that you will never fully fit into society and be less frightened of the fact that you will forever be socially awkward. Such joy to look forward to!
How are those studies going? I know you feel stupid, starting your dissertation early, getting it out the way, even your lecturer is mocking you for being way ahead of the other students but you’re doing the right thing. There will be no time for that during the next few months as you will soon be spending the next three months in a hospital, sitting by Daddy’s bedside as he gets sick. Sleep now as soon your life will be turned upside down. Don’t be afraid, it will be the biggest shock to you, you will feel unbelievable sadness, you will get through this but it will take time, years in fact, before you fully recover and unfortunately, it won’t be the hardest, saddest thing for you to overcome, that is still yet to come.
You will think speaking to your friends will help you grieve and heal
You will feel frustrated and tired for crying all the time.
You will stop speaking to that person who is closest to you
You will decide to run away from your problems, your hurt, all that was you
You’re about to give up on your writing. Bury all your stories, notepads and diaries in a suitcase. Don’t stop writing. It may sound sensible to you right now because all you think about is Daddy when you write = stop writing. But you will regret this. You will spend the next 10 years not expressing yourself, not telling anyone anything and more importantly, not opening your heart to anyone too scared of sharing yourself with others.
Keep writing, however hard it may be. You hate feeling this way, sad and depressed, crying all the time but don’t take it out on the writing. When you stopped writing, you lost a part of yourself. You closed yourself off from people, afraid that they would also leave you and you gave yourself excuse after excuse as to why you didn’t want to get close to someone when really you were afraid. And when you started to find yourself writing again, you forgot how to do it. You lost the joy you found in writing a beautiful sentence that spoke so vividly to you that it brought tears to your eyes. You hid your words in shame. Writing is you, don’t give it up, hold onto it as you will spend the next 10 years trying to find yourself again.
Start blogging earlier. Blogging is the millennial version of what you are doing. Scribbling your stories, poems, diary entries, dreams! onto paper and floppy disks before sending them off to Publishers’. That kick you got when your poem was published in the Young Writer magazine, that’s the kind of kick you will get when you publish a blog. And you will be able to do so again and again and reach far more people with your words than before.
Understand that mental and physical health both go hand in hand and that both need to be taken care of. A healthy body makes a healthy mind and vice versa. Start running, it costs nothing and I guarantee you will enjoy it once you’ve found a way that does not remind you of school PE lessons. Exercise in your room, exercise in the University grounds, try to find a routine that suits you and get moving. Listen to your body and exercise a healthy lifestyle and educate those around you, especially mum. Make sure you and she pay attention to any bodily changes, especially those related to ovarian cancer:
· Toilet habit changes
· Energy levels dropping
· Abdominal pain/ swelling
· Loss of appetite
Don’t just nod along, I know you’re just agreeing with me for the sake of it but this is something you will wish you knew earlier.
I know you’re a grown up now and want to be treated as such and your friendships are really important to you now but don’t forget your family. Don’t push the people who know you the most away because you want to forget who you are and start again. Cherish those people who know you the most and spend time with them doing the things that make you happy. Tell mum how important she is to you and if you can’t tell her then show her. Do things that you know make her happy and if it’s something really simple like taking out the bins, then take the bins out. Love is doing something for someone else and not for you. Enjoy the time that you have together. Do you remember the time that you asked Dad to meet you at the museum and you showed him a beautiful piece of art that you really admired and then took him to see the amazing 360 degree panoramic views on the roof. That’s a memory that you will cherish and remember forever. It’s something between you and him. Your memory will diminish with age so make memories that will last with mum now.
I know you don’t like to be told what to do so I’m not going to give you any more advice. I don’t think you need anymore anyway, you will do fine and will learn slowly, when you are ready, who you are.