By Lucy Johnstone. Guest Writer
Dear younger self,
I hate to break this to you but you’ve got a lot to learn. Growing as a person is not always going to be a pleasant process, but it’s worth it.
For example, you’re going to learn that people you thought would be in your life forever are not to be relied on. Friends are going to change their values and decide they no longer agree with your choices. They’ll drop you like a mouldy old sock and there’s nothing you can do to change their minds. Lovers will betray you, humiliate you and hurt you. You’ll make mistakes too (don’t for one moment think you’re the innocent victim every time). People will also die. Suddenly. Tragically. Even the young and the healthy. You’re going to learn that life is incredibly fragile and not to be take for granted even for a minute.
All of these people coming and going, whatever their reasons, will make you appreciate those who personify a forever presence in your life. The friends and family who don’t judge you. The ones who accept you for who you are, even when you’re at a low point. You’ll to come to know who is gold, and you’re going to love those people with a fierce loyalty.
You’re going to waste a lot of time hating your body and trying to change it. You’ll wish you were taller, slimmer, less busty. Your poor eyebrows. You’ll spend ten years plucking them into oblivion and then, when thicker brows come into fashion, you’ll bulk them up with pencil. You’ll spend a decade trying to shrink your naturally curved posterior by smoking cigarettes and running on treadmills and cutting out entire food groups, only to have big asses gain acceptance in society. Then you’ll do hundreds of weighted squats to regain what you lost.
Finally you’re going to come to a point where health takes precedence over appearance. You realise that you’ve only got the one body, and it’s worthy of love. You ditch the ciggies, learn about nutrition, and find a balance between exercise and rest. You begin to despise the diet culture which infiltrated your mind for so many years along with those messages society sends to women telling us that our appearance is the only thing of value we possess. You realise that there are so many better uses for your precious time, than trying to change your body, and you genuinely feel sorry for those who think their greatest achievement in life has been to lose some weight.
The truth is, your body is a beautiful vessel which does a wonderful job of transporting you from one place to another, and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks about it. It’s also very forgiving, and continues to do its job despite all the toxins you’ve thrown at it and horrible things you’ve said about it over the years before you knew better.
You will realise, early on, that you have an insatiable thirst for learning. You’ll leave school with this need unsatisfied, and you’ll complete diploma, then degree, then postgraduate diploma then masters degree waiting for the feeling of having completed your education. Finally you’ll come to understand that it’s never completed and instead of racking up an even larger student loan, you decide to focus your energy on teaching others, and writing. This brings you more joy than all your formal qualifications combined.
You’ll come to be discerning about what you put into your body and mind. This is a form of self respect which begins to come to you naturally. You realise that violent movies, poor quality books, processed food and dishonest people are toxic to your spirit. You’ll learn to seek out quality, and to say no to anything which doesn’t feel “right” to you, on an ethical, spiritual or energetic level. You’ll come to value peace, meaningful interactions, laughter and learning as the fuel for your spirit. You’ll come to value whole foods, locally grown foods and ethically produced foods as fuel for your body.
You will find a career which you enjoy, and that you believe makes a genuine contribution to society. This will bring you more satisfaction than a company car or a massive salary ever will. While you will dabble in better paying positions with more prestige, you’ll always return to what you know and love. You’ll learn to be very careful when accepting employment, that the values and vision of your employers match your own. When you accept a job, you’re effectively putting your career in your new employers hands. This will be one of the hardest, but most important lessons you’ll face.
You’re going to regret some things, and have to learn to forgive yourself. You’re also eventually going to accept the fact that your actions are a reflection of your knowledge at that moment in time. When you know better, you’ll do better. In time, you’ll acknowledge your failures, your poor decisions and your mistakes as lessons, not as defining features of the woman you are at heart. There are going to be periods where you think maybe you are a genuinely shitty person. It won’t be a nice feeling. But time is a wonderful healer and eventually you’ll stop punishing yourself and learn to administer some of the kindness you give so generously to others, to yourself.
You’re going to see some heartbreaking events. Princess Diana is going to die tragically, the twin towers will fall, Amy Winehouse… It doesn’t end well there either. There are earthquakes and terrorism and you’re going to try and make sense of it all but you never will. These things are going to bring about some beautiful stories of human kindness and love because, in the midst of tragedy, love stands out all the more. You’ll never stop believing in love and in kindness and I’m proud of you for that. And don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. You’re going to see some beautiful societal changes like the legalisation of same sex marriage and this will renew your faith in the good of the world.
You’ll come to understand that life really is easier and more enjoyable when you choose to believe that others are doing their best, like you are.
Keep working, keep being kind, keep laughing. You got this.