A Letter To My 18-Year-Old Self
Bucket lists, we all have them. Yours? Currently it doesn't feature much other than bettering your GCSE grade in Drama, and to be more confident in yourself, build bridges with extended family and so on. But the big one is university.
Currently you’re trying really hard to write a personal statement, you’re looking at everyone’s attempts, nervous and questioning if you’re good enough. You’ve worked so hard to get here, sleepless nights editing that bit of coursework that was handed back to you, copious free periods re-reading that difficult-to-get-your-head-round Thomas Hardy book...But you’re here, the application is done and the course is decided; but is it? You love making people laugh, you love making people happy, keeping them entertained, and distracting them from unhappiness but you do you really want to commit yourself to a subject that has no guarantees of employment? Where the thought of Drama school terrifies you?
Fast forward ten years you’ll be in a call centre working for a bank where nepotism is so rife it drives you up the wall. You’ll have finally after having spent the last few years out of graduation in and out of work, depressed and not to mention heartbroken, broken and broke, been promoted! But you’ll throw it away on a whim for a job that offers more money but for a company with high turnover such high turnover that three months later you’ll be out on your ear and back to square one again.
You’re dreaming of this age with a wife, mortgage and a child on the way; Civil Partnership Act came and went and gay marriage isn’t a pipe dream anymore, but you’re still single and renting - recession and Brexit put paid to that still. And you’ll be comparing yourself to the reinvented social worker, to the lawyer, to the doctor, to the clinical psychologist, hotel finance manager, university finance admin, university admissions extraordinaire that you’ll struggle to even look at Facebook (it’s a weird valid shallow place like MySpace). You will have forgiven your peers from your old school, you won’t be as bitter, and you won’t be as angry. But you’ll be anxious and every tiny mistake playing over and over again like a stuck worn out record. You’ll be tired and holding yourself for fear of falling apart, you’ll run home in the middle of one of several anxiety attacks, holding your tears in, you won’t answer friends and if you do you’ll pretend everything is ok. "I'm fine", "can I call you later?", or just the very thing that drives you crazy if someone else does it; reading the message and not replying.
Your current best friend is an arse, Mum and Dad were right about how manipulative and passive aggressive he is, lose him and lose him quick, same with your girlfriend. Though there is a lad in his year at school who yes is irritating, but he will grow up and you will reconnect with him in future. That girl who has known since nursery, knows you deeply and despite what you think and how different you are cares for you so much. Don’t apologise for being you she’s your friend - you’ll wind her up with the unnecessary apologies.
You’re currently at loggerheads with some family, this is not your battle. Pick your battles, Mum can handle it. You also do not know it yet, but your Uncle's wife has just found out she's pregnant, and both of them are eyeing you up to be godmother. Focus on this handful. Your mental health will decline one year from now, but he will be born just at the right time - he will save your life; you will flourish with him and he will indirectly teach you more about the world and not to grow up.
Seriously consider Mum's advice and do English but do Drama anyway - it will do you so much good. There’s a lovely girl doing the same subject, she’s really happy all the time, she will drive you crazy with her Netball tales and boys, but she will bring you so much joy. She will be dancing with a curly haired lad with a love for Speedos. Don't hold back, dance with them! Enjoy them; they’re light, she’s hilarious, yet everything about him screams in the brightest colours that don’t exist. Make the most of him, as he will influence you so much.
Oh and that diva laughing at NUS LGBT conference. He is JOKING hunny. But he’s also fabulous and sees the best in you. Again, step away from the comfort zone of your uni LGBT society and spend time with the larger than life Brummie. You’ll like him. Your stomach will hurt.
Ah yes, the LGBT. Your vitality is here and you’ll learn to be a role model, stand up for people and be assertive and be comfortable in your own skin and identity. It might not seem like it now, you're scared of showing who you really are still, whether that's PDA with your girlfriend in town, or cutting your hair (hunny it needs to be cut off). But honestly ten years from now and you won't recognise the gob on you, or the undercut.
Make the most of people; and listen to them, don't just hear to reply. You will meet some interesting people. Some utterly crazy people that will put you through your paces, can certainly give our old teacher and that interesting ex of yours you relocated for. You keep saying it to yourself especially since Grandad died, but listen to everyone, take them in. Look after Grandma, bless her she's slowing down and if she wants to tell you about times when she worked in the police force, looking after the children she took care of as a nanny, or cases she had as a truancy officer, then for god's sake let her. Take in the smells of the polished furniture, the creases in her soft hands, her grip on you as she's so happy to see you, note that lavender on her. She can't sleep as she's in pain, but she won't ever tell you or complain because she is always so happy to see you and Mum. Enjoy what you have left, and hold it in, Mum will need you though she won't say it - wonder where she gets it from you, wonder where we get it from, eh? But you and your cousins will remember her and be very close as a result of your loss.
Despite everything that will happen and yes it will hurt, you'll be happy and you will heal. You'll try your best and whilst you won't have everything 12 years from now you'll make the best of what you have, and that counts for so much more. You will also love coffee, and yes that is what long essays do to you, plus a love of Netflix (a site with TV shows and films to watch anytime) does to you when you can't sleep at 2am.
Did I mention, that you won't be in England? No, you will be in Malta, yes that island you spend most of your summers in. Yes, yes I know, you can't really fathom the idea of moving towns for university let alone a different campus, but a lot can change in ten years as I have discussed.
So please though, your recent years at your old school and family losses have done some considerable harm - more so than you think; go to the doctor and talk to him. It doesn't hurt.