A Letter To My Younger Self, For When She’s At Her Worst


Dear me (in whatever embarrassing phase I’m currently in),

This is a letter of all the things I’ve learned since we were last together. There’s some advice and long-winded sentences and a vague answer to the question we’ve been asking ourselves for a while now. What does creativity mean to you? Here you have the thoughts of a chronic rambler spilled across the page in a weary but hopeful attempt to help myself.

First, you have to put yourself in my shoes and understand the way in which I must view the world now. I’ll refrain from talking about my broken mind and my broken heart to save you from the teenage clichés. So instead, imagine a simulation where both your thoughts and emotions are switched off, abandoned and disregarded. They exist in a parallel dimension—they are seen but they are overlooked. All the strings that once firmly attached you to reality grow weaker until you’re dangling on a swing of precarious cords and you never asked for it, you never thought to ask for it, but a pair of heavy duty scissors are just within your reach.

You have three feasible options here. You can bask in your isolation and convince yourself that this inevitable purgatory is your permanent home. The second option… well, we don’t really talk about the second option, despite its regular and disconcerting presence in our society. All we can do is create change and that leads us to our third option. Creativity. Creativity in the hope for change, in the hope of stopping the 13 people per day (in England alone) that choose to cut the remaining cords and free fall away from reality. For me, anyway, that is the role creativity plays. It’s a way to knit yourself back into the real world and away from the solitude of disassociation; defying gravity has never been easy, but it’s less impossible after you’ve taken first flight.

I wish I could say having creativity in my life made things easier, but alas. Every painting I slave away at is saturated with clashing tones and haphazard brush strokes. Every poem or short story is riddled with overused words and forced synonyms, with phrases too flowery to express the cynical intent behind them. In fear of sounding like the over-glamorized tortured artist, I’ll stop criticizing myself and actually give you the advice I promised.

You need to learn to accept yourself, whether we’re talking about your appearance or your soul. You are enough. Imperfections and shaky lines. Misshapen nose, lazy eye, and all. Try to let go of the things you cannot change and love yourself as you are (although that’s a long journey, you’re still not quite there yet, buddy). For now, try to like yourself. You are worthy of love, and you’re not selfish for walking away.

Teach yourself to be appreciative. Fall in love with the ordinary and thank the ones who help you instead of apologizing to them. Treat others the way you wish to be treated, but more importantly, treat yourself as kindly as you would treat others—I know you’re one to beat yourself up when you’re down.

Be the change you want to see in the world, but remain respectful. You cannot change everyone and everything to suit yourself, no matter how much you want to; it’s not your sole responsibility to make everything and everyone better, either.

Don’t waste your time dwelling on what was and what could be. Focus on the present – it’s good to dream, but you’ll float away forever if you don’t have sandbags tied to your ankles.

To be vulnerably honest, life still throws its excrement down my path, but the biggest piece of advice I give you is to have hope in the face of darkness. Hold hope in one hand and creativity in the other — they are your lifelines. Most importantly, put less pressure on yourself, you sweet, sedimentary soul.

That marks the end of my ramblings and the start of a more positive outlook on life, hopefully. Perhaps magical realism is the only thing that’ll get us through the mechanical days and motionless faces of passers-by.

Anyway, see you in a few years, bud.

Yours faithfully,

You (but stronger)