Dear 10 year old me,
If I could meet you right now, I would take you in my arms and tell you that things are going to get so much better. You are an intelligent, caring person who has a place in the world. You are not insignificant, even though you often feel like it. I would tell you to ignore the classmates who make you feel bad for your love of learning, or anyone who makes you feel like you’re wrong, just because you don’t perfectly fit the mould of what a girl should be like. It’s fine to not like pink and prefer to wear boy’s clothes. If ads didn’t tell them they wanted to, they’d probably dress more like you, too. Boys clothes are much more comfortable and practical for running around outside, like kids are meant to do, anyway.
I would tell you to never pretend to be less than you are just to fit in or please somebody. Don’t spell things wrong because you’re embarrassed that you always get a perfect score on spelling tests when no one else does. You have a talent, don’t let it go to waste by hiding it. I would tell you to determinedly search out books and experiences that will challenge you and push you outside your comfort zone, because that is what will give you skills to face the world with, courage and confidence in yourself.
Georgia, I’ll be straight up with you; getting older won’t be the end of your unhappiness. It never fully goes away, because humans are amazing at finding new things to haunt us. Life will always have its hardships, and sometimes it’s easy to wallow in misery. It’s harder to count your blessings and simply laugh at yet another shameful mistake or misspoken sentence. Positive and negative thoughts alike will grow if they are fed. So choose the music you listen to, the people you let influence you, and the ideas you focus on mindfully. They will come to shape who you are.
I want to tell you that it’s ok to be quiet and shy, because that’s part of your beautiful personality. But also that it wouldn’t hurt for you to let your guard down a little more, and be a child. I still struggle with being myself around people I don’t know, and to this day, have the same worries about not being liked. But a lot of the time, darling, you will find that people appreciate honesty, and someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Be fearless in the way you walk and move, not worrying if you’re ‘doing it right’. You’re doing it your way, the only way you can do it. Even if it’s awkward, weird and nothing like the girls in the movies, don’t be ashamed to be yourself. Speak your mind, your opinion is too important not to be heard. Remember that your attention, conversation and love are things anyone would be privileged to have. The people that try to tear you down or exclude you are often hurting inside themselves, don’t take it too personally. You can’t please everyone, so don’t stress about it.
I know sometimes you feel so lonely that you just become numb. It’s a shadow that when it descends, blocks all the light out of your life and will attempt to smother you. It will follow you around for a large part of life, but you can fight it. Learn that isolating yourself is not romantic. You can enjoy your own company, but no one is an island. It’s a balance of recharging your batteries when you’re by yourself, or in nature, and sparking off the energy of others. Don’t be afraid to show people how much you care about them, and don’t neglect your friendships. To quote from my favourite movie (Into the Wild – you should totally go watch it!), “Happiness is only real when shared.”
Dream, read, write and explore whenever you get the chance. I’m sorry to say you’ll never be much good at maths or science; you will always shine the brightest through your creativity and understanding of words and worlds. You are a hard worker, and what you are going through now will give you great resilience in the future to stick at things, even when they seem like more hassle than they’re worth. This phase of intense solitude and exclusion will also make you insecure far into the future as well, I’m sorry to say. You’ll turn to outlets like drinking that allow you to feel happy with yourself, and free to be a bit crazier than your usual reserved self. It’s part of growing up to learn that drugs won’t fix your problems. They’ll only put them out of your mind for a short while, even making things worse, sometimes. You’ll keep doing them, though, to feel free from self-invented social protocol, if only for a few hours. You’ll base your self worth on how others view you, because you don’t know how to love yourself, yet. It’s hard when your own parents seem more interested in highlighting all your shortcomings than your strengths. Growing up isn’t easy, don’t be scared to ask for help with it.
I think it’s important to tell you that the girls you call your friends who make you feel so small will not matter in 2 years time. That you are better than a second choice: you are deserving of love and respect. I would tell you, that your parents are not always right. That like every human being on earth, they make mistakes, and they will realise this in time. In the mean time, don’t let the constant fighting and yelling get to you. You think tears are a sign of weakness, but they just mean you have a loving heart, easily crushed with words and rejection from those you seek affection.
Because you’ve been cut off from doing so many things that other children do by overzealously strict parents, you’re going to develop a rebel complex. I’m going to encourage that, because I think you learn more from breaking the rules than keeping on the blinders of authority. You may never get along effortlessly with mum and dad, but try not to resent them – they love you, and are doing what they think is best for you.
Children are cruel, hell people are cruel and there will be things you do to others that make you see the dark side of humanity in yourself. Mountain peaks of ecstasy will inevitably followed by dark pits of despair; you never really get used to it. Nobody knows the secret to living a perfect life, but as long as you are conscious of not wasting your waking hours, you’ll find fulfilment and very importantly pride in who you are. Here’s a tip: writing things down can shrink your problems in half, if you can’t find someone you trust to confide in.
Georgia, you are 10 years old with many adventures ahead of you – even more thrilling than the stories in the books you love to read so much. You’ll meet fascinating people and learn extraordinary truths about the vast world you live in. Now 18 years later, I can tell you you’ll turn out alright. You make a few (ok a lot) of really stupid, embarrassing mistakes along the way. But hey, everyone does, and there’s no point pretending life will ever be perfect. You will be let down, disappointed and hurt more times than you can count. But you’ll also have a lot of fun, laughter and happiness to make it all worthwhile. Back yourself, take risks and never settle for less than you deserve.
Try to be optimistic, it’s a much more appealing and productive quality to have than cynicism. At the same time, be curious and critical of things that don’t seem right. 10 year old me, there is nothing wrong with you. You’re far from perfect, but your imperfections are what make you unique. Don’t hide, but celebrate your uniqueness. Look people in the eye and make it known to the world that you are not someone to be walked over or manipulated, instead a force to be reckoned with, and unapologetic for who you are.
Dear 10 year old me, I know you’ll never read this letter. And maybe that’s a good thing, because then I probably would’ve turned out differently. And although I have some regrets, ultimately I am happy with my life. I will not let my future children grow up without the information I have given you, however. I am glad I am not you anymore. It shouldn’t be the case, but being 10 years old was never a case of being carefree and happy, like children should be, for me.
Love from, 18 year old me xoxox