Where do I start? On the one hand I want to stop you right there and prevent you from making all those goddamn mistakes but on the other, those are what made us what we (you) oh god I’m confused, what we are now, so I suppose it’s ok. In any case, here’s what I say to you, my 20-something-year-old-self.
Try and conquer your fear of spiders. You will move to Australia and they will be much, much worse than the daddy-long-legs you begged your father to get rid of that night you left your bedroom window open and they invaded by the dozen.
Quit smoking. Quit smoking now before it gets much much harder.
You feel things too much. Your heart will be broken, more than once. Love is a very complex thing but you need to try and see things from the outside. Boys will break your heart, but you will survive. And be better for it. You will learn and love again and realise that love isn’t just about you loving someone, that it is about, well, I’m still not sure, but it’s about more than you wanting to be loved.
Let’s talk about your weight. We still haven’t got that sorted yet, and perhaps we never will, but try and embrace your curves and do try and cut out some of the processed carbs. And realise that people, lovers, friends, family love you for who you are. Stop quoting literature at them though, you’re not as intellectual as you think you are.
For heaven’s sake stop worrying that you will never be a writer. You’re going to be a journalist. And then you’re going to write a book. It won’t be a good book, but it is a book and you will do it eventually. I’ve re-read our university dissertation on fairy tales. Shit, it’s good. I doubt I could write something like that now. It’s really quite good. Don’t lose faith.
Save money. We’ve always been terrible at that, but seriously, it will help in the long run. Pay off your overdraft. Do NOT get out those student loans. I am still paying them off. Thanks, past me.
Don’t fuck up your contraception. This will end badly.
You will not get married to a wonderful man at the magical age of 30. Or perhaps not even 35. I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t give you any direction on this one, but don’t fear your age as you get older. Don’t feel left behind. You will have wonderful relationships with all kinds of wonderful people.
That guy who attacks you in the toilets of the bar? Go to the police. Ignore what everyone else is doing (or not doing) and saying around you. Take control. Don’t let him get away with it. I don’t know how that will work out, but you will regret it and fear that other women have been hurt since because you were swept away by a tide of people not wanting to deal with it or suggesting they kick his head in, which they probably didn’t.
Be nicer to your mother. I know you argue a lot and that will never stop, but she’s your mother. WHen you move to the other side of the world you will miss her desperately. Hug her, tell her you love her more. Take time to enjoy her company while you have it in spades.
Get on the medication. Do it NOW. It’s not worth the years of anxiety and depression and panic attacks not to. One day you will be able to interview ‘famous people’, you won’t vomit before leaving the house to go to a party where you only know two people. You won’t get dressed up and decide you can’t leave the house and sit on the floor and cry. You won’t starve because there’s no food in the house and the thought of going to the supermarket alone fills you with fear. I’m not sure what our problem is, but the meds make it mostly go away. Also listen to your mother. When you act confident, confidence grows.
For god’s sake stop worrying. It takes up too much time and energy.
Bite back. Seriously, don’t take shit from people. And stop being so goddamn scared.
Learn to love yourself. Just because some man doesn’t love you anymore doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. I know, because I’m here telling you this. You are worthy, you are loved. It might take you until your 30s to realise this, but it is a lesson worth learning. Devote time to other relationships. No one likes a selfish “in love” person. Your other relationahips are what make you stronger.
Learn to let go. It’s taken me (us) a very long time to learn this. Letting go is freedom. You’ll get it eventually, but it will take time.
You are worthy. You spend so much time within yourself that you don’t see what others see. Get out, move around, realise that you’re pretty damn alright. And that you don’t need a partner to make you feel whole. You ARE whole (if a little ragged around the edges).
But it will all be ok. I’m saying this whilst not entirely convinced, but I know one thing: it gets better. I promise.