10 Years On: A Letter To My Sixteen Year Old Self


I touched on some of things I mention in this post in my post: 2018: The Year Of Change but this delves much deeper into some things and how I was feeling. It was an extremely hard post to write and it made me relive a lot of things that weren't pleasant. I'm being brutally honest with myself by writing this and it's an uncomfortable but freeing feeling. I'm going to give a trigger warning as suicide and thoughts of suicide are mentioned. Please please please heed this warning if those topics trigger or affect you in any way ❤️ I'd also like to add that I have just written this in the last hour or so. I've scanned it for spelling errors and mistakes but it's largely unedited because I think if I spend too much time poring over it, I'll lose my nerve and not post it at all so forgive me if it's a bit unpolished!
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It’s May. Exam time. You’re feeling like you’re whole world has collapsed around you because you’re not in school with everyone else your age. You’re at home hiding from the world. You feel like a complete failure and that you will never ever accomplish anything.

I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. This difficult period of your life will not define you forever. It feels like it now. It feels like you will never be happy ever again. But ten years from now you will be happy. You won’t be living the shiny, pie in the sky, dream life that you want but you will be happy. There’s good days and bad days but you’ve got better at coping with the bad ones.

It'll be a tough ten years. There'll be ups and downs. You'll feel on top of the world and then like nothing could be worse. You'll make a lot of good decisions and a hella lot of bad ones. That's okay though. Everything happens for a reason. It sounds trite, it's a complete cliché but it's true. You're going to become a much stronger person because of it.

I wish I could go back in time and tell you to be kinder to yourself.

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When I left school at age sixteen I felt like my entire world had crumbled down around me. I sat in my room most days for months just being consumed by the darkness I felt inside me. I slept most of the day and night. I only ever made the effort and pinned on a smile when I absolutely had to leave the house. 

High school was never easy for me. I was picked on for being weird, girls pretended to be my friends only to convince me to push my actual friends away so I'd be left with nothing when they abandoned me, I found my schoolbag in the bin countless times with everything inside soaked in what I hoped was juice. As the years went on I became very distrustful of people, apart from a few close friends, so when people made attempts at befriending me I rebuffed them out of fear. 

The fear of what people would say and could be saying about me consumed me. I found comments on Bebo slagging me off and my appearance. Boys saying that their greatest fear was me and god help the boy that ended up with me. I had two amazing best friends who couldn't have been better friends but I couldn't tell them about any of this. I was ashamed. Ashamed that I was so ugly, so horrifying, so out of the ordinary that I thought no-one apart from them wanted to be my friend. 

I remember going on a school retreat when I was fifteen and it was the happiest I'd ever been at school. The kids who were with me didn't treat me like a leper like they normally did. They were friendly enough and the fact that they weren't being openly hostile was enough. There were other schools on the retreat too and those kids, who didn't know me or anything about me, were so friendly and I had so much fun with them. It was like a breath of fresh air. I felt more like myself than I had in years. I even remember a teacher from my school remarking that he'd never heard me talk as much in all the years he'd been teaching me. It was like a new life force had been unleashed inside me and I thought maybe things could be different at school when I went back.

They weren't. The retreats ended,  we went back to school and everything went back to normal. 
I'm gonna be completely honest and say that most events from that time are a little fuzzy now. I've done a pretty good job at trying to block all the unhappy times out. 

Not everything was horrible back then of course. Like I mentioned above I had two great best friends, I joined a local youth group and made lots more friends. I even met my then boyfriend. In the midst of all the dark there was some light points. But there wasn't enough light to drown out the darkness of an extremely unhappy sixteen year old. 

And this brings us to the start of this story. I left school and practically became a recluse. My boyfriend dumped me, rightly so if I'm honest, because I pushed him away one too many times, I was at my lowest ebb. I was convinced I was a failure because I hadn't done my exams. I became fixated on the idea of academic success, convinced that it would make me happy.

I ran away from all my problems and moved to London, again convinced that being somewhere I'd always dreamed of would magically fix my problems. It didn't. My problems came right along with me. I got so many amazing opportunities and experiences while I lived in London. I met some of the most important people in my life while I lived in that city and I wouldn't trade that for anything. 

That doesn't negate the fact that my obsession with not being a failure meant that I was too scared to succeed and that I self-sabotaged myself at every turn. If you don't show up or don't do anything, you can't fail right? 

Looking back, I want to scream at myself. I want to shake myself so hard because I can see now that I just wasn't coping. I'd never learnt to deal with anything because I'd always ran away from my problems instead of trying to solve them. I also got so damn good at lying about my problems that most people never twigged that anything was wrong. I was my own worst enemy. 

Things came to an almighty head when one evening when walking home, I was mugged. I wasn't harmed physically but it shook me up so much. I was terrified to leave the house for a week. I couldn't face university at all. I just sat replaying what had happened inside my head. Why hadn't I screamed louder? Why hadn't I fought them off harder? Why didn't I run faster? Why couldn't I remember what they looked like when the police asked for a description? I was a failure, yet again. 

I should have asked for help. I should have told someone how absolutely lost I felt. However true to form, I didn't try solving the problem and I just ignored it. And it festered inside me. I managed nine months, nine bloody good months full of great memories and good times I might add, before something snapped and I just couldn't cope any longer. Nothing triggered it, I just woke up one day and realised that I was drowning, that I had been drowning for a long time and just choosing to ignore it. Within forty-eight hours I was back home with my parents and once again feeling like a failure. 

That was 2015 and it's been a rocky three years to say the least. I've had many ups and downs. Been given opportunities which I squandered. Tried to follow my dreams only to let my insecurities and doubts convince me that I wasn't good enough. 

I've written a few posts here on the blog about how the beginning of 2017 brought me extremely low and how I came out the other side eventually.

Then today I found this in my Google Drive, it actually inspired me to write this post.


It hit me like a punch to the gut when I read this today. I don't even remember writing it really. I just remember feeling really, really fucking miserable in December of last year. I had no reason to be like this. I had a good life! I was making enough money to live on for once in my life! At a job that didn't make me miserable! I had good friends, amazing family who loved me. I had no reason to be like this. Except I was. Because deep down I was still that broken sixteen year old who never dealt with the emotional trauma she'd been dealt and it shaped the rest of my adult life. Sometime between writing this and the start of this year, I began to realise that I would continue to stay miserable if I kept punishing myself for my failures. I can't tell you how or why I came to this realisation but I'm so glad I did.

This whole post may read as extremely dramatic to some. I honestly couldn't care less. Realising what my problem was and working hard to overcome it has changed my life. I've been constantly trying to attain a level of perfection that would solve all my ills since I was sixteen and constantly beating myself up over not achieving it. Ten years on and I am nowhere near where I thought I'd be but you know what I am? I'm happy. I'm happy with myself as a person and I'm happy with my life. I still have dreams I want to pursue and changes I want to make but right this moment, I'm happy. And that's enough. It's more than enough. 

And if anyone has read right to the end, bravo because I think I've rambled on for about two thousand words at this point. Seriously though, thank you for reading this. Writing this has been a real catharsis. I feel lighter somewhat just getting all this written down. Hopefully I can look back in another ten years and I will marvel at how far I've come from this point I'm at right now.

I'd also like to shoutout my friend Talie who wrote a similar post detailing her own journey to where she is now. I first thought about writing a post like this when I first read hers. It took me a while but I got there. She blogs over at DailyTalie. She's an amazing writer and all around amazing person who inspires me a lot. I wouldn't have had the courage to post this without reading her post first ❤️

Sarah-Louise
xxx

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