Dear Me at Sixteen,
Stop running away. You are so much more than you think you are.
I’m not going to tell you not to start smoking.
I am going to tell you that you are not ugly. Not even a little bit. Over the years, many boys will tell you how crazy they were about you in high-school. This will surprise you. It shouldn’t. You are not ugly.
When you meet that cheeky boy with the green eyes, walk the other way. His brokenness will break you and it will take you years to undo the damage. Don’t give yourself to him; afterwards you will feel nothing and that’s not how you’re supposed to feel.
Stop skiving off school. But don’t get better grades- your failure will lead to your fate as a writer. When the school counsellor tells you that people with issues are attracted to studying psychology, tell him to fuck off.
When your mom takes you to a therapist and you talk act like a little shit and the therapist tells your mom you’re a normal teenager, don’t listen to him. Normal teenagers don’t starve or cut themselves, or drink during the day time. Don’t listen to all the people that roll their eyes and tell you you’re being dramatic.
When you get to university, make lots of friends. You are good enough to be liked. Go out, get drunk, have fun, feel young. You will come to regret these years. Don’t cry on your twentieth birthday. You are not old! Stop fantasising about your suicide. Stop wishing you were prettier and smarter and sexier. Stop wishing you are more. You are enough.
After university, don’t listen to your parents. They will want you to get a job. You will want to travel. The compromise is doing shitty jobs and ping-ponging from London to Greece and back again. Just pack a bag and go.
When you bleach your hair, don’t stop brushing it. You think you are avoiding flat hair. But brushing it will avoid you having to chop it all off. It will take years to grow back.
I can’t tell you not to go to that party. You will suffer, I know. You will experience the single most painful experience of your life and the pain will go on for weeks. You will suffer the indignity of lying naked and helpless in a hospital whose smell still makes your stomach churn. You will suffer but you won’t admit it. You will refuse to rub off your black sheep nose and all the staff will call you provataki (little lamb). You will learn all the nurses’ names. You will not cry until the day they tell you that you can leave. Your face will suddenly feel wet and all the doctors will look at you funny. You will weep for twenty solid minutes.
You will feel like something deeper has opened up inside you, like your soul has a trapdoor and you just fell through. You will feel like you have roots, like you are air, like you are connected to everything. You will feel like you discovered magic, like you are magic, like you will never feel sad again.
But you will. And soon. In fact, you are about to shatter like porcelain.
Don’t go to Miami with that family. The children will abuse you and you will cry all day and everyday. The homesickness will be unbearable. You don’t need to do this to yourself.
When you get back, you will meet a boy. You will tell him that you are fragile and he will tell you that you are special. No matter how tough you act, you are pure, and you have no reason to disbelieve him. You will assume that he is your reward for being so strong. He is not. He will dump you via avoidance. You will howl at his cowardice. And you will realise that you have already fallen in love with him.
Honey, this will break you. You will suffer every single second of every single day for months. Your grief will tie knots in your appetite. You will drown your pain in parties. You will not be able to imagine a moment of relief from him but I promise it will happen. Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels. You try not to regret experiences. You do not regret setting yourself on fire. You will regret him. You got nothing from him but heartbreak. But you get over it. You are so much stronger than you think.
As autumn looms, you will crash. Your friends will intervene and this time you won’t laugh. You will go to therapy. You will be relieved to find out that there is a diagnosis for you. You are not healing yet but you are on the right train.
Then will come the flat year. You will work too much and laugh too little. You will feel empty. This is because you are exhausted. You are not superwoman. You shut down. This time you are not able to bounce back. You despair of ever feeling like you’ve got any sort of grip on life.
But you do, honey. It’s just that you are still a caterpillar. Your butterfly days are coming. Everything is about to change in grand and magnificent ways.
One day, those bony shoulder blades you call your sprouting fairy wings will begin to feel sore. That’s when you know it’s time to soar. You will pack up and go, and you will be uncertain about the future but you will know something’s about to happen. I won’t tell you to hold onto this rare feeling. You know already. You can feel change in your bones. You will feel like you have found the secret pathway to your destiny. You will be right.
I cannot tell you what happens next. What I can tell you is that somehow, at 27, you find the strength to live again. You dared to soar and you are already being rewarded. You are a writing/editing student at the best university in Australia. Your phone is always ringing with invitations. You have met some very special people. You might even like yourself.
Honey, everything’s going to be okay.
I love you (even if you don’t), and I know you would love who you think I am (even if I don’t).
Hugging you from the future,