I initially wrote this as a journal entry after reading A Letter to Teenage Girls by Caitlin Moran. You can watch her recite it here.
Where should I start? I could tell you that it’s all uphill from here, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. I don’t think anyone sails into adulthood easily. With this in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. I’m still learning.
There will be days and weeks when the feelings you have, the people you’re with and the places you’re in will fit together in a haze of laughter and comfort. Hold on to those moments and make time for more of them. Your loved ones won’t always be on your doorstep.
That said, revel in your alone time. Sing in the shower, read in bed, develop opinions, go exploring. Sit with your feelings and without distractions, trusting that good things will happen. Take care of yourself, even when that feels like the last item on your list. You’ll be glad you did.
Welcome changes to your plans and expectations. I know you imagine becoming a teacher and being engaged by 22. Here in 2016, that’s not the case. Your feelings and interests will shift. You’ll meet people who open up new perspectives and opportunities. So, give yourself time to think through decisions and let yourself change your mind. Remember that a person or a job can be great, but not great for you. You don’t want to be an unhappily married strategy consultant.
The pursuit of perfection is exhausting. Continue to love learning and to work hard, but don’t pressurise yourself. It will take a while to realise that you don’t need to be the best at something or to say yes to everything. Accept that you’ll fail occasionally and keep trying anyway. You’ll find ways to manage the anxiety that comes with courage.
Appreciate your body and speak up when it isn’t working properly. Diagnosis will come as a relief after years of confusion and restriction. You’ll rediscover how to eat for energy, how to move because it feels good and how to let yourself take up space.
Be kind and reliable. Listen carefully. Show up when you say you will. Make an effort and spend time with people who make an effort for you. Smile and give compliments to friends, family, dates, partners, neighbours, strangers. Life feels fuller that way.
Finally, don’t go to a party when you have an oncoming migraine. Painkillers and vodka don’t mix. Trust me on this one.