Monday, 11 July 2016

Letters To Our Sixteen Year Old Selves

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I’m sure that we all have things we wish we could go back in time and tell our past selves. So today I’ve pitched the question to the Safe Space team:

If given the chance what would you tell your sixteen year old self?

Older and wiser maybe now we have the perfect advice to give to our younger selves now that we know the outcome of the experiences that we were struggling to navigate at sixteen years old and perhaps there is somebody out there reading this in a similar situation looking for some guidance too.

~ Jess ~

Dear Jess,
If I could travel back in time and give you a massive hug right now I would, because I know you could really do with one. I know you feel scared and alone, the wonderful boyfriend who was so lovely to you at the start of your relationship has been not so wonderful lately. I’d love to be able to say that things will get easier soon and that it’ll all be over but you’re going to have to be brave for a while longer. I can promise though that the right time and perfect opportunity will come for you to leave this relationship and you’ll do it safely without ever looking back. These dark times will end. 

The friends in your life who you think are so important now won’t be ten years down the line. Don’t worry so much about what they think and say, they’re not part of your future. At this moment in time you’ll find yourself wanting to be independant from your family but don’t push them too far. Family is more important than you realise right now. Try to let them in more. As grown up as you feel you don’t know everything about the world and still need your parents.

Soon a big, beautiful, black dog will be joining your family. You have no idea how much he will come to help you in the years to come. This furry bundle of joy will become your closest companion, he’ll make you laugh every day and will cuddle up to you when you’re sad. Give him a big hug from me. Treasure the time you have with him.

Your love of books will literally save your life, on some days being able to escape to another world will be all that keeps you going. Keep reading, writing and sharing your passion for books. Following that path that you love will lead you to the brightest parts of your life. You will literally meet the best people you know because of them including your best friend who will understand you in ways you can not begin to imagine a person ever could.

At the moment you don’t feel very strong. You feel panicky, afraid and sad all of the time. Talk to your family, go to the doctor, fight for your right to be seen by a mental health professional. You’re not crazy and although you’re in denial about how you feel right now I promise that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and that with the right help you will start to feel better.

Take time out to reflect and think, in doing so you are rebuilding yourself to be the best version of you. From this very young age you will come to learn what you do and what you don’t want from life. You will learn empathy and compassion because of what you’ve been through and it will turn you into a kinder person who just wants to make the world a better place than when you found it. You will get to a point where you are proud of who you are and will love the life you have built for yourself because it is one that you have chosen and not one somebody else has told you that you should want.

Instead of looking down and being certain that if you jump you will fall, believe that if you spread your wings and take a leap of faith you will fly.

Stay strong, stay safe and stay hopeful.

Love, Jess x

~ Laura ~ 

Dear Laura,
It’s future you writing to past you…nifty huh?! I guess I have so much I want to say to you about what the future holds, what you have to look forward to, the things you’ll learn the people you’ll meet the experiences you’ll have…but you’ll get to those in good time.

What I really want to say to you is this: don’t ever stop loving yourself. You are one of the strongest, bravest and kindest people. Think of everything you’ve had to endure over the past few years and look how you’ve come through the other side. I wish I could lie to you and tell you that the future is perfect but it’s not. There will be plenty of heartbreak thanks to some rubbish men, there will be moments when you don’t think you can keep going, there will be many tears shed, many moments spent wondering why life isn’t going the way you thought it would. But the best part? You never ever give up.

Because there are some amazing times to come too. Some beautiful moments that you’ll never forget, nights spent in the arms of someone you love, days spent enjoying the simple pleasures of life, there’ll be books to read, songs to sing, friends to make and lessons to learn. But you must remember to keep loving yourself. Don’t let other people make you feel less than you are. Don’t allow someone else’s happiness to come before your own. Be selfish sometimes, take time to love yourself, make people aware that you’re pretty damn awesome.

And most of all stay kind. Keep smiling at strangers, help those less fortunate, take time to listen and remember everyone has their own battles to fight.

Stay strong and believe in yourself. Make mistakes, learn from them. Make beautiful memories, treasure them. Fall in love, enjoy it. Follow your dreams. Be brave, take chances, enjoy every second.
Life is never going to go the way you think it will but that’s ok. Life is unexpected and crazy and amazing and you’ll rock it.

Keep smiling gorgeous girl; never let anyone dull your shine. And on those days when you feel worthless or you don’t know what anyone could ever see in you, remind yourself that things will get better because they can and they will.

The future is yours to write so make it whatever you want to be. I’m so proud of you and of who you’ll become and I can’t wait for you to experience all the things you will.

Never regret anything that once made you smile.
Keep rocking it girl xxxx

~  Faye ~

Dear Faye,
It’s Faye here, from 10 years in the future. I’m writing to you today to help you get through this year, and the ones to follow it - because you do get through them.

This year you’ve made a big leap. You’ve left school and are heading to College with no friends but that’s okay because on your first day you’ll meet Jen and she will introduce you to an amazing group of people including your best friend, who is still your friend today.

College is going to be tough. I don’t want to scare you but you will lose your secondary school friends but that’s okay. I know you will hurt and feel replaced and it will make you feel useless and worthless but you are not these things. She wasn’t worth your amazing friendship and she is not worth your tears.

Over the coming years you are going to be faced with a lot of challenges and heartbreak but also love, happiness and hope. Because that is life in a nutshell. Swings and roundabouts.

This moment in your life is hard and scary but it is all worth it because at the end of it all you have a pretty good life with amazing supportive friends, an exciting business and living away from home. It’s still not perfect but because you’ve had experiences of hard times, you know you’ll get through this too.

So stay strong, keep smiling, and don’t let life knock you back too far.

 ~ Lily ~

Dear Lily,
It’s you, 5 years from the future! Pretty cool huh?! And boy do I have some things to say to you. First of all, I want to give you the biggest hug, even though you probably don’t want it or think you deserve it. You have been absolutely incredible in the past year. Don’t even doubt it for a second. Mum would be SO proud.

First things first, I know you’re nervous about starting a new sixth form. You know that group of friends from scouts you sometimes talk to? They’re going to take you under your wing and be the best friends you’ve ever had. It might be awkward at first because you haven’t known them as long as they’ve all known each other, but give it time. Get to know them, let them listen, and don’t be afraid to be who you are with them. You’re still all talking today even though you live all over the country.

Be kind to yourself. When it’s all too much, get out of school and make sure you pamper yourself. I know therapy isn’t the right answer for you right now, but in a few years it will be. And it will help you so much, you wouldn’t even believe. Don’t be afraid to rant to your friends, especially those who you talk to on the internet. They are some of the kindest, most wonderful people you’ll ever meet.

Keep an open mind at school. The subject you think you hate right now might just be the one that you end up wanting to study. Oh, and that gap year you want to do? PLEASE take it, and don’t feel pressured to go straight to University. You’ve been through so much these past few years and you need to take some time to go through it. Get through your A Levels, and then have a nice rest. You’ve earned it.

I want you to know that you’re about to embark on some of the best years of your life. You’ll get to watch the sunset by a Welsh lake with all your friends, you’ll get to travel all over Europe and climb up a Swiss mountain. Those Camp America websites you’ve been looking at? You get to do that too. And it’s one of the most eye-opening experiences you’ve ever had. Keep an open mind though, and work bloody hard when you’re there.

And above everything else, I want you to know that it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel sad and anxious and scared and nostalgic. It’s okay to miss her. I miss her too. Never feel like you have to hold in your emotions for anyone. You’re going to realise something about yourself soon, and everything will make sense. Embrace it and love it, I know it’s hard. You are so brave and wonderful and you have so much to look forward to. Be brave and take chances, but when it’s all too much don’t be afraid to say no. Remember to look after yourself.

Keep smiling and keep going. It gets better, I promise.

Love, Lily x

~ Louise ~

Dear Louise,
I’m here to tell you not to panic. Everything feels like it’s not going to plan at the moment doesn’t it? You know you have something that makes you different to all the other girls your age and you feel alone and afraid but it does get better. You’ll find out soon that this is a common problem and treatable; so very treatable. Worrying about the future – the kind of future when you get dizzy from thinking it’s so far away but it’s going to come around so quickly – isn’t healthy. Focusing on YOU and being happy is a much better use of your energy.

Please don’t push away those people who care about you. They will leave – albeit temporarily – but it will take many unnecessary years and more pain to get them back; to build the relationship and friendship you’ve always wanted.

You’re now 28 and twelve years have gone by so fast and being sixteen with these problems pale in retrospect. You will become a great survivor and will endure so much more than you think possible. But don’t panic. You have it in you, even when you’re in the depths of depression and doubting your every fibre. You have got this down. This is just the beginning of the adventures... You’re going to love them!

Love and hugs,
Lou x


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