Dear Past Me, here are 20 things you know, now that you’re 20.
Dear Past Me,
Here are 20 things you know, now that you’re 20. How exciting to think about how this list will change and grow. Maybe these would have helped you, Past Me. Or maybe we had to learn them the hard way. Either way, I can’t wait to see what you add (and what you get rid of)…
- Nobody is looking at you as much as you think they are. You know how self-aware (*read: self-conscious) you are? So is everyone else. Enjoy the space you occupy. Allow yourself comfort. Wear that daggy jumper.
- Nobody has their shit together as much as it may seem. Everyone is just doing their best; we all live day-by-day. Even Beyoncé. It’s everyone’s first time on this planet. Be patient with others. Be patient with yourself.
- One person’s success does not equal your failure. the arbitrary school system of constant, quantifiable competition and ranking is going to be hard to rewire, but you have to get beyond it because it will not help you. Change the mindset you have. Run your own race. We’ve only just warmed up, and there’s a marathon ahead.
- You feel happiest when your life is busy enough that your body is not the only thing you think about, but not so busy that you don’t think about your body. Find that balance. Try your best to maintain it. Look after yourself, there’s no getting from A to B without this body and it’s the only one we have got. (So quit the ciggies if possible).
- Sex is for your pleasure, too. Sex is for your pleasure, too. Sex is for your pleasure, too. (repeat x infinity).
- It is okay to love yourself. I mean, like, really love yourself. Masturbation will change your life, don’t wait so long to try it out. There is no shame in it. It is normal, healthy, amazing, fun, distracting, relieving & probably the most recommendable way to get straight to sleep (over a Xanax or something). Everyone does it! Ask your friends about it, they will surprise you. Oh, and, buy a vibrator, for when you’re feeling lazy.
- You don’t have to attend every event you are invited to. Your time is a finite resource, so is your energy. Club nights can be fun, but after a while, you’ll realise the average one is not. I cannot recommend a book, facemask and flat mate night in enough. Go to the events you care about. Spend time with the people you love. FOMO passes, staying off social media will help this. You don’t owe people your attendance.
- Learn how to say “NO”! People will try to utilise you as a means to their ends. You can’t do everything. Know your rights, set your boundaries. Say “yes” to the things which bring you happiness. Get paid for your work. Say “no” more.
- The people who do (or don’t) want to fuck you do not determine your worth. Quit getting validation from the people who you have sex with, your track record is questionable at best and, frankly, you deserve better. Get your worth from within. You will attract the right people when you know what you deserve. Sexual experiences should be positive for all parties involved. You are worthy, you are sexy, you are lovable. Don’t deny those things to yourself.
10. Read more. Read everything. You have never regretted reading a book. Ever. Even if you don’t like it, you will learn something. Everything you read helps you understand the world, and the people in it, more. Reading is your connection to people who you may otherwise never have a chance to know. Use that.
11. Family is the best thing in the world. Be they blood or chosen; your family has your back. Most people out there don’t. Make your family bigger, and the world gets smaller. Unconditional love is so rare, let people give that to you. Give it to as many people as you can.
12. Go to therapy. Everyone needs therapy. Your therapist needs therapy. Their cat needs therapy. Anyone who says they don’t need therapy is lying, and probably quite unaware of their flaws. You going to therapy is a gift you get to give yourself, and to those around you. We have to grow and become conscious of why we are who we are. Therapy can help with this. Make extra effort to go to therapy on the days you think you don’t need it. You do.
13. Don’t stifle your creativity. It’s scary to be vulnerable, and the things you produce creatively feel personal, I get it. People appreciate that vulnerability, the world can be a hard place. Genuine openness can be hard to come by. Let that gentleness that is inside you come out through your art. Try to listen to criticism, I know it’s hard. Write more poetry. Try different mediums of art. Express how you feel in whatever way feels right. Once you extinguish your creativity, it can be hard to reignite. Fan those embers, keep going what you can.
14. Everyone has a whole life, which has shaped the way they see the world. Learn about differences, learn about why people care about what they care about. Ask more questions. Engage in constructive dialogues. Know that, as a woman, people are looking for you to fail on account of your emotions. Fuck that. Be angry, be sad, be real. Own how you feel, own what you know. Be as educated as you can on the issues you speak on. Listen to people when they are the voices that should be heard. Respect the otherness of others.
15. Don’t hurt the people closest to you when you are going through something. This is a hard one to change, but you have to. We will have to work on this for the rest of our life, and that’s okay. Let’s try and remember that the people who love you the most are the ones you can hurt the easiest. Try and show them kindness and love, even when you are angry at the world and they are right there. Because they are right there for you.
16. Try and see yourself the way the people who love you do. Think about the people you love, respect and trust. There’s a reason that you keep them around, it’s probably because you think they’re amazing. That warmth and affection you feel for them, they feel for you. Save a little of that for yourself. You’re the only person you have to be with for every second of your life, so you may as well be friends.
17. There’s a difference between self-isolation and taking healthy alone time. Learn the difference for you. Learn when you are at risk of the former. Learn when you need the latter. Don’t lie to yourself about which is which.
18. Hug the people you love more. Hold them. Kiss them. Make them that cup of tea. Tell them you love them in the ways that feel right. You never know when you won’t have more time with them, give yourself as many memories together as you can.
19. Paint your nails. Not because you feel like you have to but because you get weirdly self-conscious about your hands when you don’t. Especially that weird thumb. Plus, it gives you something to pick at when your stressed.
20. Hope that your life is long, live it as though it isn’t. So many people in your life have lived incredible, mesmerising, colourful lives. Make one of them for us. It seems like we can do this by living our life as if could end at any point. Don’t forget, it can.
We’ve had a good 20 years together. Past Me, I feel an affection for you that I wish I had felt at the time. I’m going to keep that in mind, because today’s Me is tomorrow’s Past Me.
Let’s get this list longer, shall we?
Sophie Nankivell, Poetry Editor