If your teen self was sitting in front of you, what would you say to her/him/them?
This is something I’ve been encouraged to answer for a very long time. I think despite the traumatic context of my teen years the content would have been the same regardless. My sincere apologies for being so lacking in content recently, I am simply required to put my creative energy on a shelf in order to be a good academic soldier. Anyhow, here it is. A really lacking, rough, non exhaustive things I wish i’d told my kid self.
There is a lot I have put off telling you. In fact, I know I have down right ignored your existence – doing so has been a vital part of my survival. However, despite our infrequent death wishes and best intentions we have both arrived at the end of our twenties, and it’s time for older me to tell you some stuff I wish I had known back then that’d definitely have made the road easier for you.
1. You are all you need : There were so many people you wanted to please. The church, your parents, schools. you wanted desperately to fit in, and be part of the world you saw going on around you. Like any kid, you wanted to know that there was at least one place you belonged. The most important person to belong to is you. . If you want to express yourself a certain way, fight every inch of the conformity that will no doubt be thrust upon you at different times of your life. The freaks you find in your later life are the ones that will sustain you, give you hope in times of sadness. Embrace your individuality knowing it will be the thing that makes you special. When it comes to sex, and relationships, well that’s an all life long learning curve but here, the same rules apply. You do have innumerable rights to just be exactly who you are, with whoever you want, at any time. You will get a lot of bullshit information, from a lot of bullshit places but don’t be afraid to seek out the information for yourself.
2 No matter how bad life may seem – there is always something better. This is one that older you struggles with still. You have already endured more than anyone should ever go through. Ever. It is unacceptable and reprehensible the way in which you have been totally failed by people who are meant to care about you. You will suffer countless bouts of depression, anxiety and terror, but you will survive them. You will be incredibly sad, devastated and betrayed but you will also enjoy some of the most exhilarating experiences life has to offer. There will be places and people that if you let them, will leave permanent indentations on your heart. You don’t need to wait for the day to arrive when you will be brilliant, that day is now.
3. It was not your fault. – child of Greek migrant stock, and also product of rigid catholic school system, you will have guilt down to a fine art. Let me tell you, it serves no one except the people who harmed you. It will take an incredibly long time, but you will learn that the things that were done to you, and the things you do to yourself, are simply not your fault. Nothing was. There was a lot that you were made to do, that had you known better you’d have not done, but there was an equal amount that you could not control, nor should you have had to. None of this was any reflection on the person you were becoming, or the ways in which you were developing. It was simply a reflection of the people involved in your life. Remember that you are blameless. In fact, just know that guilt is possibly the most useless emotion ever, and the sooner you are done with it the better it is. Use whatever anger, fear, guilt you have to make the world better for others.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak . There is so very much acting to silence you. Everything around you says keep quiet, tow the line, don’t rock the boat, be good. Fuck that. Your voice is one of the very few things that is authentically yours. You never have an obligation to silence the hurricane in your chest. In years to come, people will admire your courage and your bravery. You will use your voice to help others. It will be an enormous benefit to those who cannot speak.
my deepest apologies for my sincere neglect of you. I know now that it was a mistake, but these are a few of the many life lessons I have learned. I cannot ever write about them all, because they are still happening, but I am committed to acknowledging and taking better care of you. We’ve still got so many awesome adventures to have in whatever form our life takes from here on in… I love and embrace you
Slightly older you