Dear 16 year old Sarah Jane,
In this letter, I am not going to talk about what is to come in life, because although you love to plan, you like the element of surprise and going with the flow. This letter is to give you some advice; advice I wish you could have heard sooner. I wish I could physically go back in time and give you a hug and tell you everything I’m about to say to your face because you really need to hear this right now. You are really struggling, with absolutely everything in life, but in true Sarah Jane form, you are covering it up, not showing it to anyone, not even family because you don’t want to bother anyone and it’s no big deal. You are a lost soul with no idea of what to do or where to go in life. But that’s okay – at 25, you are still figuring things out and that completely fine.
You have absolutely no idea how strong you are. Not only are you strong for yourself, you are strong for all your loved ones.
You’ve always been anxious, for as long as you can remember. You over analysis absolutely everything. You are so hard on yourself.
I am SO mad you won’t open up about your struggles with your mental health at this stage. You are so ashamed of not being ok, and that’s not ok. When you finally open up about your struggles, that burden you’ve been carrying around lifts a little. You have been wearing this mask that covered up your pain and suffering. You didn’t want to be a burden on anyone when once everyone you love discovered this, you hurt them a little by not trusting them. You eventually come to terms with the demon, the darkness in your head. Now, I’m not saying it goes away, but you find ways to deal with it better and you won’t be as afraid to say you aren’t ok.
You may think life is challenging and difficult now and that you’ve been dealt some shit already. Well, Sarah Jane, you better prepare yourself for some worse shit that’s coming over the next 10 years. It’s going to get a lot worse, but that’s life.
You are going to meet some pretty damn epic people and you are going to meet some pretty shit ones too. Those terrible people will make you appreciate those incredible people even more.
Some people are only in your life to take advantage of you. I wish there was someway of you learning this in a less painful way but it’s these lessons in life that make you into who you are in the future I suppose.
The friends you make at 19/20 are the friends that are worth loosing all those so called friends along the way. They are the best people you will ever meet and they bring out the best, most incredible version of yourself that you could be. They make you happy, they make you feel comfortable, they make you smile, but most importantly, they are there for you when you need them the most. Cherish them. You will no doubt question why they want to be friends with you but they see how great you are and how much you sunshine you bring into their lives, and you will slowly begin to see that for yourself one day. Your various fangirl friends also become some of the most vital people in your life, now who would of thought that a couple of your favourite artists would bring some of your favourite people into your life?!!
You are going to do and see things that you NEVER imagined you would and that should excite you and give you hope. Please, keep being that ambitious and goal driven girl you are, because that becomes a trait many around you admire.
Never ever doubt your worth.
You will make mistakes, everyone does. But do not be so hard on yourself about these mistakes. They will make you learn so much about who you are. There is no right or wrong way to live life. There is no book you can read to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. You’ve got to experience all the highs and lows, and eventually, you’ll know what to do. If it’s meant to be, it will happen – remember that. You one day realise that all the fuck ups and the rollercoaster of emotions, it was all worth it.
This is your story, this is your life. You get to decide what happens. You get to decide who is worth your time.
You don’t need anyone’s approval in life, especially not from boys. Don’t waste your time trying to impress people who can’t see you for you. You will probably roll your eyes now but it’s their loss not seeing you for you. Don’t let them think you need to change to fit in. Girl, you were not born to fit in. No group of people are worth losing yourself for you to say ‘you hang with the cool, popular kids’ – social status isn’t an important value of yours and you need to be reminded of that. Although you struggle with knowing who you are and who you want to be, deep down you know and no one else should ever have a say on that. Ultimately, do what makes you happy. No one else should be in charge of your decisions – only you. Remember that.
You are really struggling with your image and body image. You are obsessing over the number on the weighing scales, the size on your clothes and the calories on your food. You are starving yourself so you can feel ‘pretty’, all because you’ve been called fat and ugly throughout your childhood and teenage years. You develop an eating disorder because of this, and it’s not one that is very well known and understood. This eating disorder becomes a part of your for life now, and although present me isn’t mad at you because you couldn’t help it, I am just sad that you thought this was the most important thing; to be skinny means being attractive and accepted. Body Dysmorphia is not something you can switch off but you’ll eventually know how to handle it and begin to enjoy food and your body one day.
So boys… As I mentioned above, you so desperately seek approval and acceptance from guys when you don’t need it at all. It may seem crap that everyone in your circle has boyfriends and is hooking up with guys all the time and I get it, it’s not nice being the one left out. You feel unworthy, ugly and just shit. But honey, those guys you were so desperately wishing to like you back weren’t worth you obsessing over at all. I know you don’t feel pretty or attractive. I know you think you are fat. I know you think that if your acne goes and you are a size 6, boys will instantly fall at your feet. But it doesn’t work like that. You need to first love yourself (don’t roll your eyes again!!!). As soon as you begin to fall in love with yourself and accept yourself, and your flaws, guys will look at you differently. BUT having a guy appreciate you or find you attractive is not the most important thing in life. You are a WHOLE human being, you don’t need another half to make you complete.
If you could only see yourself 10 years on from now, you would not believe we are the same person when it comes to guys. Your friends now call you a man eater. You have guys stopping you on the street when you’ve NO makeup on asking for your number. You have a trail of men flocking after you once you step foot into Dicey’s (you’ll soon learn that that pale skin of your’s is your sexiest assest, another thing you currently hate about yourself when you shouldn’t). You are the one breaking hearts, not you having the broken heart – now that’s something you weren’t expecting. You don’t want to be hurt by guys so you’ve built up these walls so insanely tall and hard right now, which is a benefit to you in later year as you don’t suffer from many broken hearts. But it’s okay to let someone in once in a while.
You are so passionate about everything, and although that is great, that is also the thing that can mess you up from time to time but again, it’s what makes you, YOU. It’s such an incredible quality to have and don’t ever lose it.
Family has always been important and meant so much to you. And it will still do over the next few years. However, your idea of family will change and that’s ok. Just because they are blood, does not mean they are family. Blood does not mean anything to some people and that’s what is hurting you and will hurt you the most over the next few years. Do not worry though. You CHOOSE who family is to you. And girl, you have some special people in your circle. Hold them tight and appreciate them while you can.
Spend as much time as possible with those you love in your family because you don’t want to regret it in years to come. You are going to experience so much grief in the next few years with family members getting sick and passing away. You know time is sparse and you already do make your family your priority.
No matter how old you get, you will always be Daddy’s little girl, and your Mam will be your first and always best friend. You are going to fight, and that’s because you just want to be the best daughter they could possibly want in life. You put so much pressure on yourself to be this idea of ‘the perfect daughter’ when if fact, they are so proud of you and who you are already. They just want you to be happy and healthy. They just want you to wake up every morning and live your best life possible.
Grief is something you’ve never handled very well and you will never. Your first painful experience with grief was when Granny Allen died. It was expected that you would find this difficult. You spent so much time with her and looking after her, you even became her nurse towards the end and everyone knows how you are not so good with wounds/blood/vomit etc.
I wish I could say that this will be the only major grief you will have to endure for a long period of time but that is not the case. You are going to experience even more heartbreaking grief. However, it is going to hurt less. You just need to accept grieving is normal and allow yourself to cry when you miss someone. Sarah Jane, I wish you would open up your eyes and appreciate Lorcan more than you already do, because he goes way before his time and everyday since he has gone, all you want is to hear his laugh and words of encouragement, You would do anything to have him back around.
You are an incredible young lady. You are loved and appreciated by so many people. You are smart. You are talented. You are so so so strong. You are brave. One day, you learn to love yourself and the life you have been given. One day, you’ll look back on your life and all the things you have done and overcome and be so incredibly proud of yourself.
And most importantly, you are unique and that is something to be proud of because you know what? No one can take that from you and it’s that exact uniqueness that makes everyone you meet intoxicated by your aura and confidence, and leaves them forever remembering you in the best way possible. The minute you start to love yourself, the world starts to pay attention to you and accepts you and that uniqueness – embrace it gal!
I wish you could see how you turn out, because you become this pretty amazing woman, if I say so myself! You are going to be ok.
I love you, and you should love yourself too.
Sarah Jane xx