This is a bit of a different blog post – I had a birthday recently and it made me reflective, as birthdays tend to. I was wondering what my 15 year old self would have thought of my life today. My 15-year-old self wrote my older self a letter all those years ago, saying what she hoped life would be like and it was full of all sorts of half formed plans (working for Reuters) and little girl dreams (marrying my Prince Charming). The usual.
What really got me thinking about all of this was reading blog posts by one of my favourite bloggers, Kelly of ‘Run, Selfie, Repeat’. It made me think how far I’ve come along the pathway of accepting me with all my complexities and peculiarities. And I wished I could tell her, 15-year-old me, about that to help her shortcut some of the angst…
Dear 15-year-old me,
Greetings from the future! You wrote me a letter so it only seems fair that I reply. Expect that, as your letter was full of half formed dreams, this will be full of the advice you’ll need to get there. And I expect, if I could deliver it, that you’d probably disregard most of it, thinking that you’re doing ok on your own. See, I know you well.
You know how you think everyone is staring at you when you walk into a room? How you think they’re all thinking terrible things about you, your clothes and your body? Most of them are not. They have enough to worry about in their own lives. And those of them that are? They also have enough to worry about in their own lives which, oddly enough, is why they add so much trauma to yours. That same girl who bullies you relentlessly and makes your life hell would probably give anything to walk in your shoes and she doesn’t know how to deal with that. I know that doesn’t make it easier but keep that bit of knowledge and use it to walk past a little taller.
In fact, that’s the biggest bit of advice you need – be brave. Walk with your head held high and fake the confidence you don’t yet feel. You will. There are so many doors which are starting to open for you and which will continue to open – walk boldly up to them and go through; find out what adventure awaits. Don’t fear failure – it’s how you learn and all of those dreams you have will require you to mess up frequently on the way. Mess up often and use those lessons and feelings to pick yourself up and do it again a bit differently.
Value yourself and believe you are worthy of being loved. I know that boy you’re after might seem like a greek god but he’s just a boy who knows who he is just as little as you know who you are yet and hormones are screaming so loudly for you all that it’s hard to hear much else. The tears you shed over him won’t be the last but know that it will all end happily. Eventually, you’ll meet someone amazing who ticks all of your long held criteria and who will be the prince to your princess. It’s a cliche but you’ll find your soulmate and it will make you wish you hadn’t spent long nights stressing over others who really weren’t right for you anyway.
Some of the dreams you thought about will come true, others won’t but you will achieve things beyond what you ever imagined. You’ll graduate from University multiple times. You’ll work in a myriad of jobs, some of which will be scintillating, some awful but all memorable. You’ll have some incredible high moments – being speechless while standing in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence and standing on stage receiving your Masters degree are 2 that spring to mind. And yes, there’ll be low ones too but they’re worth it for the balance and gratitude they bring.
And, eventually, you’ll discover running and that will bring you so much that you’ll wonder why you put so much effort into avoiding it. You, who feigns illness to get out of cross country and dreads every PE lesson, will run half marathons for fun. You’ll travel across the state, the country and, in fact, the world to run in different events. And you’ll hang out with incredibly supportive friends who run with you and inspire you to go further than you thought you could. It will help you see yourself as strong and capable and stop you hating your body for what it isn’t, instead loving it for what it can do. And, out on the trails or surrounded by thousands of runners at an event, you’ll fall into a zen like state that calms you and guarantees you’ll run again. Because it’s part of who you are.
I know – that’s all a lot to take in. It doesn’t even sound like you. But it is – just the best you that you can be. You’ll spend a long time and a lot of air travel trying to ‘find yourself’ – be assured that you do find the version of you you’re seeking and it’s all worth it in the end. I’d advise you to try to chill a bit along the way….but I know that’s just you and how you do things. It’s enough to know you’ll get there.
your older, wiser self.