Dear 16-year-old me,
You make it to 21. This letter actually comes from 21-year-old you. You are alive at 21.
Some advice for coping with what happens over the next five years:
- Live in the moment. Collect the memories. Don’t spend so much time held up in the past or looking at the future. You miss so much.
- Keep swimming. It was the only sport that kept you in shape, it was stupid to quit. You will regret that when you try on a dress for your 21st and you have a breakdown in the changing rooms over your ugly body.
- Stop checking in on people who don’t check in on you. It’ll hurt at the start but trust me it’s for the best. Half the people who claimed to be your friends ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.
- Trust your mum when she says someone is bad for you. It may feel like she is controlling you, but she is right. Not everyone wants the best for you, some people want to see you crash and burn.
- Don’t sl*g off plastic surgery. You will end up begging your parents to let you get a breast reduction. You will look like a hypocrite.
- Don’t put off medical things. If you need to go to the doctors, go to the doctors. Don’t listen to your sister who says you go too often. Things do go downhill. Way too quickly.
- Spend as much time as possible with your family, your friends come and go but your family is always there. You will regret it down the line.
- Stop putting expectations on your birthday. You will spend every birthday crying to yourself, it becomes a tradition. Get used to it.
- Study more. School grades didn’t matter as much but if you’d worked harder maybe your degree would’ve been a higher classification. Yes. You go to university.
- Go on as many nights out as humanly possible. You will miss them when the clubs shut. Hangovers are temporary but memories are forever. PS: don’t drink vodka lemonades in the club, you don’t like the taste of the lemonade and it leads to a lot of throwing up OR JÄGERBOMBS.
- You will lose your memory; it’ll suck but it’s a symptom of the depression. Take as many photos as possible, write down the good days. You will thank yourself for that in the future.
- Get your heart broken once. You officially have feelings. It hurts, it really sucked. But you handle it well and you bounce back.
- Go to as many concerts as you can, they are still your favourite thing 5 years later. They are still your safe space. They are still your happy place. I hope that never changes. PS: Don’t drink before Post Malone. You will not remember a concert you paid £150 for. The guy wasn’t worth not remembering the concert, he wasn’t worth the hangover.
- You might never have kids. Prepare for that.
- Boys will try to use you for your chest. You are more than two balls of fat on your chest, ignore them. Don’t take it to heart, boys are stupid.
- Speak out about your diagnosis. It’s scary but it was worth it.
- Don’t feel pressured into losing your virginity, it happens when you are 19. People will assume and say nasty things, ignore it. Virginity is a stupid concept anyway, nothing changes.
- Accept that you cannot control the future. The sooner you accept that the less you will cry. Hold out hope though, it’ll be worth it.
- Don’t miss your train. You will sit and cry outside the train station and then have to do arguably what is worse than a walk of shame back into your flat kitchen.
- Take coronavirus seriously. You will look like an idiot later on.
- Answer the phone to her. Nothing is more important than that phone call. It was not just a catch-up. It was not your fault.
But even without these tips you are okay. You are 21 (and a half) and you are a university graduate. You are about to begin your postgraduate degree, you are happy. Life is rocky for the following five years, and I expect it will be all the way through for ten years at least. But you are happy. That’s all you ever wanted. You got it. You have your low moments, but you are happy. I promise you it got better.
This post was a bit different but within all the advice I could give myself, I hope other people find comfort in realising you cannot rewrite your past. I accept and understand that. I know how I would change it; I have twenty-one ways in how I’d change the last five years. But I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for all of those things. They shaped the woman I am right now. I couldn’t be more grateful for that if I tried, and trust me I have tried.