Don’t look back, you aren’t going that way …
If you told eighteen year old me that I would be working as a journalist, and writing a blog for the world (or part of it at least) to read, I would have laughed at you.
The truth is eighteen year old me was in the midst of a self esteem slump. I think back to it now and realise how far I’ve come and how much my mindset has changed because of everything I experienced in that year I turned eighteen.
I know we all say it, but when I compare what 18 year olds are experiencing now to even just five years ago, it’s a world apart. Social media was around, but didn’t hold the same level of importance. We took photos at parties and posted them in albums on facebook, not on instagram to thousands of followers. I remember when snapchat became a thing and I didn’t know how to use it properly. My point is that when I was 18, even though it wasn’t very long ago, it was different.
I wish I had had someone tell me that all the things that were happening were happening for a reason. To have someone say “it happened to me too, and it’s shit right now but you’ll be grateful that it happened in the end”.
So that’s what this is. For anyone who might need it, no matter the age you are, I hope you can relate to this, laugh at this, and see that everything in time is a lesson to be learnt.
So, here it is. My letter to 18 year old me ….
This year will be the year you start to see yourself differently. The first thing that’s going to hit you is your first heartbreak. It’s shit, it’s painful, and you start to wonder if you’ll ever go back to being your happy self again. There will be days where you convince yourself you are in one of those heart wrenching rom coms, and that nothing will ever be the same again and you’ll never love anyone else. But you will get over it, and good things will come of it, because being on your own teaches you more about yourself and what you’re worth than anything or anyone else ever could.
From the moment you turn 18, you won’t spend a single saturday in the house. I’m serious, embrace the fact that every weekend brings a new party, night out, event or birthday to celebrate with all the new friends that you make along the way.
You’ll go on trips across the world and create friendships that last for the remainder of your school days and beyond. The awkward tension you feel in yourself and the lack of confidence to let go of your insecurities will start to melt away, and you’ll start to actually be comfortable being you, not what you think you need to be for people to like you.
This will be the year you really address your mental health, and stop seeing it as something that makes you weird or unwanted. You’ll stop telling yourself that maybe if you hadn”t been in therapy, you’d still have a boyfriend. You’ll stop worrying what people will think about the fact you’re open and honest about your feelings and thoughts. It becomes a topic of conversation that helps you create bonds with people rather than deterring them away.
Now, back to boys, very briefly. Whilst you experience your first bout of heartbreak, you’re also going to experience your biggest mistake. But don’t beat yourself up, we all make stupid decisions, and that stupid decision puts you on the right track to really getting comfortable in your own skin and starting to believe that you’re worth more than you thought.
The realisation that your self worth does not lie in someone else’s opinion of you is the revelation you needed, and you wouldn’t have had it if you hadn’t been with them. For the first time you’ll say ‘I deserve to be treated better than this, and I don’t have to wait around for you to realise that’ and really believe it. Fucking own it.
A levels will become the bane of your life. There’s no getting around it I’m afraid. The long hours, stressful nights studying and And for the record, your last minute procrastinating ways will NOT ever change. You’re stuck with that method of working now, well done you idiot.
But, nonetheless, you will still get the grades you wanted, in fact you’ll completely surpass expectations and actually get into university. Yes, that whole ‘I’m not going to pass so i’m just going to run away to Australia’ plan isn’t going to be needed. Because you worked bloody hard, despite the bullshit what was thrown at you during the process, and you deserve your place there.
Little do you know right now, that the people you meet at university will become the life longs friends all the brochures told you about. Your best friends will be the girls you meet the first day at bus stop, the day you spent ages deciding what to wear, worried what they’d think of you. Those girls will stick by you through everything, the good and the bad, the tears at 3am when you’re pulling through an all nighter to get a deadline handed in, and the celebrations in Cameo just because you made it through an 8 hour day. It’s going to be the best three years of your life.
Not only will you rebond with people you thought you’d lost, find new friends to make memories with, and continue to have the most amazing support group of friends back home, you’ll meet someone that treats you with love and respect. They’ll bring you up when you’re down, support your dreams, and most importantly be as weird as you are. You’ve found your person, don’t doubt that for a minute.
So keep it up. Don’t let other people’s opinions get the better of you, don’t explain yourself or justify your feelings to anyone who doesn’t value them, and most importantly, don’t take any shit from anyone. including yourself.
You can do this, you will succeed, and you will go on to achieve things you never dreamed were possible. Because right now you’ve graduated, you’ve got a job at the BBC, you’ve worked on your mental health, you’re nurtured all important friendships, and you are finally comfortable in the skin you’re in.
Don’t ever doubt yourself, or your worth, because you really can do anything you put your mind to.