Back in June 2019, when I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new blogger on the scene, I wrote one of my most successful posts – a letter to my younger self. It was a prompt I kept seeing when searching for content ideas, and I kept putting it off. I wasn’t sure about the logistics. What age would I be writing to? Was I writing to prepare my younger self for what was about to come? Or was I writing to deter her from making some poor decisions? In the end, I made the executive decision to sink a bottle of Pinot Grigio, open up my laptop, and just crack on. What resulted was one of my most popular posts in the five years I’ve been working on my blog.
I wrote a sort of ‘update’ post in 2021, thinking that I needed to address the absolute crap-show that was the covid-19 pandemic, and it was another one that I was pretty proud of. However, since then, even more has happened. So, as I’m very slowly making updates to my blog and trying to have a bit of a tidy-up, I thought now would be a good time to start again. At the time I wrote the two previous posts, I was 27 and 28. Now, I’m three days away from turning 31, and it sounds cliché, but I feel like even in such a short space of time, I’m a completely different person.
So, I’ve essentially combined these two earlier posts as well as added in a few updates from the last couple of years. As with the first post, I’ve decided to write to my 14 year-old self, because she was a little weirdo just desperate to know that things were going to be alright. Here’s the kicker – at the time of writing, I’ve only had two gins.
Dear 14 year-old Amy,
You’ll be reading this thinking that the person writing this to you is ancient. 30 is old, right? Well, it’s not. I still feel like a child. Despite the fact I own a house, have a credit card, am married, and can drive a car, I don’t feel like an adult. Or should that be you don’t feel like an adult? After all, I’m you 17 years from now.
Right now, you’re madly in love with Dec (yes, of Ant and Dec), and you’re obsessed with Frasier and Scrubs. Your number one worry right now is whether or not your mum will get rid of the Sky subscription, which will mean you can’t watch either of them on Paramount Comedy (it’s now called Comedy Central) anymore. I’ll be honest, I long for those days when that was my only worry.
Now, I know you worry about EVERYTHING, so I don’t want to scare you. Scaring the crap out of a 14 year-old isn’t exactly what my vibe is, but I don’t want to lie to you and tell you that life will be all fluffy and lovely once you become an adult. Spoiler alert though, I can tell you that you’ll be okay. Maybe we’ll start with the good things that are going to happen.
Firstly, let’s start with the thing that gets to you the most – your appearance. I know right now, you’re painfully unhappy with how your teeth look.
However, I promise you, they won’t always look like that. In just four years time, you’ll get your first brace, and you’ll be well on your way to a shiny new set of gnashers. While you’ll feel guilty every time you drink Coke and you won’t eat an apple normally for a good five years, it’ll be so worth it. As for your glasses, don’t fret there either. Yes, you’re really short sighted, but in six years time, you’ll start a job as an optical assistant. You’ll learn what frames fit your tiny face and your massive prescription. You’ll learn how to use contact lenses, and you’ll wonder why you’ve been scared of them for so long. You’ll also learn that under 16s get free replacement glasses on the NHS, so every time your mum tells you to be careful with your glasses because you “won’t get another pair,” she is in fact just trying to scare you into looking after them. Alongside all of this knowledge, you’ll also meet some of the best people. People who you will laugh with, cry with, and have some brilliant nights out with.
Which brings me on to my next point. At the moment, I know the friendship situation is difficult. You’re worried about not being liked, and years of on and off bullying will mean that your confidence isn’t where it should be for a 14 year-old. But that’s okay. I’m not going to lie – things won’t be easy over the next 17 years – but again, I can tell you things will be fine. Some of those friendships will fizzle, but others will stay strong. Some will even get stronger. You’ll make new friends. In fact, the two people you were in reception with will still be your friends to this day.
Let’s move into the meaty stuff. Boys. At the moment, a few of your friends will be in their first ever relationships. Meanwhile, you’re sitting in your room alone with your emo music and your food-tech coursework just wishing that someone, anyone, was attracted to you. All I can say is: be patient. Give it a few years, and you’ll be ridiculously happy. Your mates will meddle, and someone who has been part of your friendship group for years and years will soon become your boyfriend. You’ll go to university with him, get a cat with him, marry him, and buy a house with him. I can tell you that because I’m still with him to this day. He’s sitting next to me with Tilly (the cat) snoozing in his lap.
I guess now I should go into the not-so-nice stuff. I’m sorry to say that things on the emetophobia front won’t be improving any time soon. In fact, it’ll turn into something a bit more difficult. Contrary to what you’ll probably be hearing, you’ll soon realise that OCD is not a personality trait. It’s a horrible, horrible illness that will sadly become a part of your life. You will learn that your mind can be more cruel than you ever thought possible, but believe me when I say I promise it will get better. If I could give you one piece of advice though, it would be this. Take the drugs. Take them as soon as they offer them to you. Don’t be scared of the side effects. Keep going back to the doctors. Don’t let yourself get fobbed off.
I don’t want to worry you (we both know you do enough of that already), but at one point in the year 2020, the world will be a bit of a state for a while, and with your OCD, it won’t be easy. It’s not all going to be bad though. For one, you’ll discover a TV show called Normal People, and you’ll become even more obsessed with it than you are with Ant and Dec right now.
So, let’s talk about jobs. At the moment, I know you’ve given up your dream of becoming a vet, because you’re struggling with science and you’re bad at maths. I’m not going to berate you for that, but let me tell you now, that your mind will torture you for it in the future. I can’t tell you that giving up said dream wasn’t a mistake (it might have been, it might not have been), but what I can tell you is that on your journey to finding “the one,” you’ll meet some of your best friends, and you’ll make some amazing memories.
There will be a lot of ups and downs when it comes to work. You’ll laugh harder than you could ever imagine, but at the same time you will feel more miserable than you ever thought possible. You’ll see the absolute best of some people, but the absolute worst of others. You’ll learn the difference between a toxic employer and a compassionate one. It will be really tough. But, let me tell you this. At (almost) 31, you’re happy in your job. What you’re doing makes a difference, you have the most wonderful colleagues by your side, and you’ll be good at what you do. So even on the worst days, as you scrape an unidentifiable brown substance off of a child’s glasses, or you sit listening to another one of your boss’s sexist, misogynistic anecdotes because it’s such a small company and there’s no HR department to report him to, know that things will get better. I promise.
Now, for one final thing I should prepare you for. In the space of eight months, two people you love will no longer be here. It will be painful, and I’ll be honest, your mental health will take a deep-dive. It’s not fair of me to tell you who these two people are, so I’ll just say this: make the effort, and tell people that you love them. It will be some of the worst pain you’ll ever experience, but I can tell you almost a year on, you’ll survive. It will hurt like hell, you’ll learn who your real friends are, and you’ll give your liver a bit of a kicking, but you’ll be okay. Honestly.
So where does that leave us? Well, it’s 2023. We’re three days away from turning 31. To paraphrase the words of an artist we’ll come to know and love: “we might be okay, but we’re not fine at all.” It’s not all bad, though. We’re living in a lovely house. We’re happily married, we have a wonderful job and we’re mama to a funny little cat who does nothing but make us smile. So it’s not all bad.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with a few final nuggets of advice:
- Be nicer to your mum – she’s amazing and she’ll do anything and everything for you
- You will get A LOT of money for your 18th birthday – don’t piss it all away on bottles of VK and Skittle jugs in The Tavern
- Ignore the girls who make fun of you in PE. It’s hard to ignore them, but catching a rounders ball is NOT the be all and end all, no matter how many times they call you a pathetic little midget
- Ask your maths teacher for help if you’re struggling – that’s what they’re there for
- Embrace your sense of humour – it will serve you well in dark times
- A can of Sprite works wonders when you’re hungover (thank me later)
Anywho, I’ll let you go back to downloading songs on Limewire and letting 90% of the jokes in Frasier go over your head (don’t worry, your psychology degree will explain a lot of them eventually). Just know that you are awesome, funny, and far stronger than you give yourself credit for.
30 (almost 31) year-old Amy x