Dear My Teenage Self – Stay True To You

Dear my teenage self,

It’s been almost a decade since we last met. We are older and somewhat wiser now. We’ve been through lots and I swear things do get better. There are a few things I want to tell you, so listen up.

I’ll be honest with you, things haven’t quite gone to plan. We’re not where we thought we would be at almost 30. But it turns out the little things in life can be a lot harder to deal with than we thought. One thing I can tell you for certain, you are stronger than you thought you were. You can handle everything that life throws at you. You are capable of anything. 

Turns out, we are surprisingly good at not having regrets. Despite feeling the way you do right now, we end up being relentlessly positive and happy with a knack for finding the silver lining. I guess at some point, we just got fed up with being sad all the time and decided to spend our time making others happy which makes us happy. I’m glad we got there in the end. There is just one little thing that I would love for you to know sooner rather than later because it can’t be undone. 

Don’t worry about other people’s opinions!

Do you know that habit we have of downplaying our interests as soon as someone around us shows the slightest hint of judgment or misunderstanding? Well, we don’t like that response. Stop it. I understand that is easier said than done, we do it because we’re scared of people thinking that we’re weird and leaving us. 

I remember being so scared of being alone, unfortunately, we still are in some way. But we know now that it is a trauma response that we suffer from and that it isn’t our fault. But that is something we should try to work on. (You can thank our almost seven years of psychological and mental health education for that nugget. I know it sounds like a long time, but it’ll be over in a flash I swear!). 

Keep going, you’re doing great!

The main problem with this response to our perceived criticism is that, while it protects us in the short term and we don’t alienate any of our friends. We don’t end up with a solid personality. At 27 years old, we are only just learning to embrace all the things we’ve loved all along. But we were too shy and insecure to show to anyone. We’ve been in a relationship for almost four years and he’s only now learning things about us he should have from the start. Because we’re only now secure enough in ourselves.

I’m not telling you this because I want you to feel bad, I know that at this point you already feel bad enough about yourself.  I want you to know, more than anything, because people will like the real you!  I can prove it; we still have friends! They’re all great people who are smart, and funny, and interesting, and like you for you, just the way you are. I know for a fact, beyond a single doubt, that’s all we ever wanted. 

If you could read this letter if we could make these changes, think how happy we could have been for all those years.  Like I said though, we are the queen of silver linings so here’s the one for this cloud: if we didn’t struggle, if we didn’t adapt to stop ourselves from being alone, we wouldn’t be where we are now. Life gets good. Just keep holding on.

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