With every passing year, my dear Mum is extremely prone to beautiful, profound and heartfelt messages about how extraordinary life is while also gently reminding me that it moves incredibly fast… blink, and you might just miss it.
I have to admit, I didn’t always believe her when I was a fresh-faced 21-year-old, I always assumed she was being sentimental. In fact, I was almost hoping she was right. I couldn’t wait to get a full-time job to support my endless supply of cosmos and wardrobe second to none (Carrie Bradshaw may or may not have influenced this particular vision)
I wanted out of university, studying was a chore and I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be just yet. I wanted to live alone, in a city flat filled with music, somewhere I could write and pour myself a drink at 9am just because I could. I wanted to go travelling on my own and be fully independent. I wanted to feel the warm sand wedged between my toes and fresh sea salt in my hair. I wanted everything yesterday and tomorrow couldn’t come quick enough, especially when it was a Thursday night and a Bacardi breezer was cheaper than a pack of chewing gum at the local night club ‘Nightspot’
One decade later, lying in my lap in the form of a red velvet cupcake jammed with glitter candles, is the concrete, unfathomable truth. Thirty one. How did I even get here?
As I blow my glistening birthday candles out in one, swift breath, I try to recall my last decade of memories, wishing I could rewind, press play and pause at the moments I wish I could live in forever. Some years a bundle of blur, yet some moments completely vivid.
The nights out, the nights in, the hysterical highs and the rock bottom lows. The moments you are so happy you think your heart might burst then the days you think your heart might break. Moments that seemed insignificant at the time, but even now, you can still feel the hot sun beating against your face, smell the sweet coconut oil dancing through the air and taste the watermelon Daquiri on your super sunburnt lips.
Just to clarify, I wouldn’t change a single thing about my 20’s.
Partying till dawn, awful matching bowl hair cuts with my best friend, fancy dress theme for any occasion, rocking an over plucked brow while also sporting a boob tube and flat pumps to go to the local gym (Yes, this is fact – what was I THINKING?)
Life was easy, old enough to know better but young enough to not care. Life was contemplating new shoes for the next gig line up or working out how I managed to come home from that night out with more money than I went out.
I recently read an interesting article by super model Lily Cole who wrote her younger self a letter before she was scouted. The letter was filled with pointers, words of wisdom, tough love and self-love.
After discussing this subject at great length with my friends over a bottle of gin at 3am, we laughed and nodded approvingly at the answers provided. All completley different and unsuspecting. What advice or words would you give your 21-year-old self? The answers were deep, dignified and down right hilarious. The answers we didn’t have at the time and maybe didn’t need to know.
So, I thought I would share mine with you.
This is a letter to my 21-year-old self from my 31-year-old self.
I’m watching festival crowds scramble from the rain over a pipping hot Starbucks (yes, some things NEVER change) but I do come bearing some mind-blowing news for you.
You’re not married. You’re not a millionaire. You don’t have kids or a puppy and you don’t own a car or a Vespa for that matter. You don’t have a job in publishing, photography or at a travel magazine.
You do have the best family and friends, you do have incredible, unconditional love, you do have a cosy flat to call home and you have a job you really like for the first time, um, ever.
Now, you won’t want to change a single thing. Every choice, every path, every turn, every bump along the way has made you, well, you.
But, I want to give you this letter. Little things I want you to know, little reassurances that everything works itself out in the end. I know right now, you might not believe me and you can be incredibly self-righteous but try to listen, ok?
1. Right now, you’re out celebrating your 21st worrying about how patchy the tan on your legs look, how many freckles you have and how you’re having a bad fringe day. STOP. You are beautiful and looks are only skin deep. Get out the bog and go dance to your favourite Arctic Monkeys song, now!
2. Learn to love YOU… know your worth, treat yourself with the respect and love you deserve. #selflove
3. It’s totally OK to put yourself first. You have to learn to say no. It sounds tough, right? You will never please everyone, it will take you years to learn this but it’s a fact.
4. Enjoy your own company, you’ll grow to love it and need it.
5. Please, do NOT use that home hair die… that golden brown WILL, I repeat will, turn your hair full on black. Ekkkkkk.
6. You’ll get to see the world and travel… it’s everything you imagined and more. You will learn so much about you. Write down every memory – you’ll want to remember everything!
7. Mum is (usually) always right! Try to listen – she knows what she’s talking about and has your best interests at heart.
8. As each birthday passes, you’ll realise how small you are in this huge, incredible and magically mysterious world. Make it count.
9. It’s never too early to start investing in some good skincare or actually washing your face properly after a night out! Look after your skin and your skin will look after you.
10. Live in the present. Stop worrying about yesterday, you can’t change it. Stop worrying about tomorrow, it’s not happened yet.
11. Soooooo… don’t put that veet for legs on your face, ok? OK? #burnmarks #redmoustache #notpretty #whytho
12. Be kind to everyone, you never know what kind of battles they are fighting.
13. Wear your brace retainer… for the love of god!
14. Don’t be afraid to speak out when you have too, even if your voice is trembling.
15. You’re sometimes a little weird. You’re sometimes a little different. Don’t ever change YOU or try to be someone else.
16. It’s totally ok to make mistakes.
17. You’ll learn so much about the world, people, cultures, politics… always stay interested and help those you can.
18. Work hard. Keep your head down.
19. Breathe when it all gets too much. It’s OK to not be OK sometimes.
20. Keep hugging, loving and smiling.
21. Boys can be assholes, stay strong and stubborn. Enjoy being single and one day, someone will sweep you off your feet (or get you really drunk, salsa dance you into a frenzy and look at you like no-one else ever has)
Oh, and please lay off that tequila – you may or may not have alcohol poisoning for the next two days.
To the next ten….