Dear 18 year old-self,
You’ve just turned 18, a birthday celebration you’ll barely remember aged 30, due to the high level of alcoholic substances you drip fed into your system that night. Go you! Seriously though, take it easy with the drinking, its fun, sure, but in a few months time, whilst sledging down a ski slope in France at approximately 3am in the morning, you’ll really injure your back when you fall off that sledge – something that could have been avoided if you weren’t as drunk as a skunk.
Speaking of France, this will be the country that becomes home to you for many years. The people you meet out there will become your surrogate family and boy; you’re going to need them. Here’s a word of advice: before you leave for France, your suitcase and soul brimming with excitement, give your Mum another hug goodbye. You won’t see her again, and this moment will be the one thing that re-plays itself in your mind, over and over again, even in your 30’s. Save yourself the pain dear girl, hold her tight and tell her you love her.
Follow your dreams and don’t let anyone try to stop you from taking the path that seems the most risky. Sometimes, that path will twist and turn, and you’ll feel out of your depth and a little lost, but continue along it anyway, you have a strong instinct and you’ll learn and grow from the journey.
Listen to your inner-voice and learn to love yourself for who you are. Quit acting the clown and let your true-self shine through. The people around you are missing out on the really beautiful aspects of who you are; so talk to them more, open up, and most of all, listen to their stories, because they’re really beautiful too.
Whilst at the top of Sears Tower in Chicago in 2001, push yourself to stand on the glass floor and look down. Don’t wuss out, it’s a lesson in mental strength and you’ll benefit from it in the future. You’re never going to like heights, and that’s ok, but sometimes it’s good to do things that scare you as you’ll spend your 30th year beating yourself up for being incapable of just letting go.
Love! Hard, but not so much that you lose yourself and stop wanting more from life. In a few years, you’ll meet someone who will change your life forever. She’ll show you that you are worth something in the world, and she’ll take your hand and hold it tightly for many years. Your life together will be a safe and pretty place, full of hugs and kisses and an intense bond that can only be experienced with a first-love. One day however, you will let go of her hand and reach for another. You will hurt people in doing so and find it very hard to forgive yourself.
Know that it is ok to walk away. The time ahead will be one of enlightenment and illumination and you’ll grow from it, knowing that you stayed true to your heart.
Your twenties will be a challenging time; full of struggles with loss and fears. Trying to find your place and yourself in a world that has ripped you of your very roots, will be hard. But go with it. You’ll discover a strength deep inside of yourself that has been harbouring there for years. You will pull through, but it’s going to take determination and tenacity, of which you have bags. Oh, and tons of therapy in your thirties. Better late than never.
Run. Seriously. It’s the only thing that will help you to calm down. Forget the anti-anxiety medication, just put a pair of trainers on and get out there. Breathe in and breathe out. Let your lungs burn and your legs tire. Run until you can run no more, girl, you’ll return home invigorated and peaceful. Don’t forget to stretch though, tendonitis and shin splints will plague you, but just accept that it’s part of being a runner.
I’m going to sign off soon and leave you to it, but one more piece of advice before I go:
Know that you are an awesome person; you’re strong and full of power. When people tell you that you’re an inspiration, believe them. Remain passionate about your life; keep writing and singing and learning and reading and reflecting and loving. Continue to follow your own heart and respecting yourself and others. Practice compassion, patience and tolerance. Know that words can hurt, so think before you speak – you’ll get better at this, believe me.
Lastly, seek solace in the beauty of everything around you and embrace it with your soul.
Lots of love, your 30 year old-self.