Dear Thirteen Year Old Ashlea,
There are a million things I could inform you on regarding your future. I could tell you what not to do and how I have ended up now, at the age of twenty, but where’s the fun in that? Everyone knows that the choices and mistakes you make, determine your future and I don’t want to ruin that for you. I may not be in the position I would have liked, but there’s still progress to be made. Anyway, although you may have been embarrassing, to say the least, you have shaped the person I am today and I suppose I can’t hate you for being your cringe-worthy, awkward and shy self. So this is a list of the important things that I wish I could go back in time and tell you, just to save the hassle and embarrassment.
So let me start off by saying congratulations, you have made it to twenty, and still haven’t been in hospital with a broken bone, or undertaken any type of surgery or been seriously ill. You haven’t had your heart broken, nor failed an exam that matters, and all your family are safe and well.
I regret to tell you that puberty hasn’t magically transformed you into a model, you haven’t overcome your social anxiety, although it’s much better, and you still haven’t visited Paris, so apologies for that. However, I can happily say that everything is going to be okay. Of course there will be times when everything is in black and white but that can change, and it does. Nothing is permanent – trust me. I hate to break it to you, but you don’t live in the same house you grew up in, anymore. That crazy idea that mum and dad had about moving to the countryside, yeah that actually happens. But don’t stress about it, you’ve still got to get through high school (as painful as it will be) and then there’s two incredible years ahead of you. Although moving will be the biggest pain in the bum, you make it through and I am so proud of you. At the age of twenty you can drive and have your own car, which is pretty cool, bet you can’t see yourself driving in a few years’ time. You’re working full time in an office which is alright, you’ll appreciate it once you go through the whole moving fiasco. It may not be your ideal job, but it’s only the start. You win some, you lose some, that’s just how this crazy life goes but things are looking up!
First thing’s first, I’m the realest. The funny part about that, is that it doesn’t even exist to you yet. But all jokes aside, I need to tell you some things. Firstly, take a look at your ‘friends’. They don’t understand you, can sometimes make you act out of character and are sometimes really mean and put you down. They aren’t friends and it’s actually okay not to be around them. This is the time you learn that friendships are so sacred and sometimes you need to let go the people who don’t fit in your life and don’t give as much as you do. But just hold on because these people are there to help you appreciate how right a friendship can be. The best friend you’re wanting to have, someone who understands you perfectly, like you’re thinking from the same brain; she exists. It won’t be that much longer until you meet her and your whole life will change. She will be one of the biggest impacts in your life, she will teach you new things, about friendship, about happiness, about yourself. And the one thing I can promise you, is that she will never leave. You will never grow apart, and you will still be quoting the same song lyrics and saying the same things at the same time. She will become part of your family and it will feel like you’ve known her your entire life. So although, your friendships may be a bit broken and tainted now, they won’t be for much longer. I promise you this.
At sixteen you will meet your best friend as well as some amazing people who will inspire you to become a better version of yourself and also bring you the most happiness you have ever experienced, and it will be consistent. When you meet them, please treasure every single moment because life will never be the same again and you will spend the rest of your years, afterwards, wishing you could do anything to go back. Oh, and whilst we are on the topic, don’t even think about moaning because you’re still in education. Seriously. You’ll be so happy, there’s no point trying so hard to find those things that make you feel anything less. I understand the work may get too much and you won’t really care about getting good grades, but you’ll be surrounded by the most incredible people every single day who light up your world, it honestly won’t last forever. Spoiler alert: you finish school and move a hundred miles away from them and miss them dearly. So, just be grateful for what you have in the moment!
Secondly, I can assure you that you are on your way to becoming a butterfly. So these awkward looking teenage years won’t last much longer, be patient. Please try and ignore all of those nasty comments about your appearance, I know it’s difficult, but looks do not matter! Your heart is so much more important and that’s where true beauty lies. Teenagers are mean, and they make you feel bad about yourself. Don’t let them. Don’t give them permission to get in your head and make you worry over things you can’t change. Your mind is clean and your body is wonderful. Enjoy these moments because it doesn’t last forever. However, you know that one huge insecurity you have? The one that everyone has to mention all the time and makes you feel awful? Well, let’s just say that good things come to those who wait 😉
But there is one thing I cannot stress enough; your body changes! Be prepared. Your insecurity changes to the thing you feel confident about now. So although your body and mind-set may be great now, you end up doing something destructible out of fear and it’s so much harder to get out of it. So I want to warn you now, please don’t do it or stop it as soon as you can. It’s not smart. It’s not healthy; to both your body and mind. Don’t let the fear paralyze you. You’re better than that.
And lastly, dear young Ashlea, I want to remind you that nothing lasts forever. If you’re in a bad place you will get through it and if you’re happy, appreciate it. You are a good person with a beautiful heart and mind, in spite of the many times you don’t believe it. You are lovable, smart, optimistic, hopeful and caring. Most of all, you are good enough. Self-love and self-belief is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. I think it’s time we start.
Good luck kid, you’re gonna do great!
P.S don’t stop dreaming, it’s what makes you who you are. Your blind optimism and ambition is admiring and just between us, it attracts more than you think.