A Letter To My Fifteen Year Old Self


It’s me, or rather, you, from the future. Put down the star trek fan fiction, we need to talk. I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, you having fuller lips won’t be as bad as you think. Sure, you get made fun of it for now, but in about ten years, it will be fashionable, and both men and women will pay tons of money for surgery and lip glosses that promise the plump pout you are currently embarrassed of. I mean, it will be favoured on white women over you, but it’s something.

Don’t bother fucking about with your eyebrows either, because it isn’t worth the effort. Thicker brows will be fashionable too, and let’s be real, you can’t handle pain, so waxing, plucking or threading really will never be an option for us. Now I’ve typed all that, I’m concerned that they may be out again. Luckily for you, you learn, over time, not to care anyway. They’re just eyebrows.

Onto some bad news, but with a hint of good news. You will never “grow into your nose”, and you won’t learn how to contour it away either. However, you will one day learn to accept that your face would completely change if it was different, and that is a reminder of your heritage, and you will realise the importance of keeping your past close to you, because it’s a lonely, fucked up world, and sometimes, all you will have is yourself, so it will be comforting to be able to remember where you came from. You are a concoction of so many different places and people, and that is something to be proud of, so don’t be ashamed that you look different, because that’s fine.

You’ve spent your whole life feeling like you didn’t fit in, and a lot of people around you contributed to that. A lot of kids picked on you, and called you weird or ugly. Some were even racist, which is fucked up and you’ll probably still think about it for a long time, but don’t hold onto your anger for them. It doesn’t help you, and it won’t change them. You are responsible for you. You can’t make everyone good. You survived, and that’s all that matters. Maybe they grew up to be better people by themselves, maybe they didn’t, I don’t know, because I’m busy doing my own thing, but I wish I (or you), had learned to do that sooner.

2017, which is where I am now, is going to be weird as fuck, and you should prepare for that as best you can. You’ve seen some pretty weird and fucked up things already, so I wish I didn’t have to tell you it gets worse, but I do, and I’m sorry about that. It turns out you were right about Tony Blair, but you were wrong about Kevin Spacey. You were very, very wrong about Kevin Spacey. You will discover that sometimes, evil can be hidden by nice things, and nice gestures, and a nice face, and you will never stop being astounded and disgusted by it. You will never really learn to be aloof or unsurprised by supposedly good people turning out to be awful, but maybe that’s a good thing. You were also wrong about Seamus Heaney, but he isn’t a sex offender like Kevin Spacey (probably should have mentioned that in more detail earlier, sorry), he’s just a better writer than your jealous teenage self was willing to acknowledge, and at some point, you will find it within yourself to admit that you only dislike him because he has a nobel prize, and you don’t (yet). There is still time for you, and you don’t have to dislike people because they have achieved things you haven’t, especially when you are literally still in school, and haven’t even finished your exams. He’s 53 years older than you, so it is to be expected that he will achieve things you want, before you do. Give yourself a chance to grow, and you’ll do all those things too. With this in mind, you can also stop hating about 45% of celebrities and public figures that you don’t like, because the same thing applies. You have plenty of time to collect trophies, sign books and perform.

On the bright side, there will be a new Star Trek series, with a black female lead, and a better chance of not being cancelled like enterprise, but to enjoy that, you first have to endure a Tory government, leaving the European Union, and an absolute bastard being the president of the US.

I probably should have done those one at a time, but it’s important that you understand something. Many of those things happened because of voter apathy, and I know that right now, you’re super hype for politics and desperate to vote, but in about three years, that enthusiasm will die, and one man is responsible. When you were (or are) eighteen, you will vote for the liberal democrats, because Nick Clegg makes a lot of promises. Nick Clegg will then form a coalition with the conservatives and the effects will be devastating to the country, and to you too. It will break your heart. You will lose complete faith in politicians, and it will take a long time to get it back. You get your groove back after seeing Nicola Sturgeon in a debate during the 2015 election, and will reluctantly return to the Labour roots you were raised on, because it’s the closest thing to the SNP in England (I mean, it isn’t really, but it’s the best you can do), so if we ever get a chance to do 2010 again, save yourself some heartache and just vote labour or green. It doesn’t actually matter how you vote really, in the bigger picture, because you’re registered to vote in a safe Tory seat, but it might make you personally feel better. The moral of that story is, people might let you down, specifically politicians, but not all of them are the same and many of them do want to help. Don’t give up and definitely use your vote, and encourage others to do the same, no matter how annoying it makes you feel, because people not voting led to most of 2017.

Speaking of men in 2010 who will break your heart, there will be a man that you meet on a tube train, on New Year’s Eve, he will make lots of promises and tell you so many nice things, but he will ruin your life for about two years, and to be completely honest, you’ll still be slightly broken in 2017, and maybe further on, I don’t know yet, so again, if we get the chance to do 2010 again, don’t talk to anyone on the tube. It’s frowned on anyway, regardless of how Northern your upbringing was. Keep your mouth shut and read a book in uncomfortable silence, like everyone else.

Back to how fucked up 2017 is. You will be devastated by the result of the EU referendum, and will briefly consider desperately attempting to get Spanish citizenship and leaving the UK forever. I don’t know if the UK will actually leave now, because it’s currently a bit of a clusterfuck, but whatever happens, you will be okay, and the UK isn’t so bad (at least, some parts of it, anyway). Please remember to speak English in public at all times, for your own safety, because some people will go nuts and be unrelentingly xenophobic after the referendum, but keep to yourself, and don’t talk to strangers, especially in Spanish, and you’ll probably be fine. You will have to stop pretending not to speak English to avoid gross men, as this could get you into way more trouble than before, and you may feel like this place isn’t your home anymore, but there are places where you will still feel like you belong, so hold onto that.

Donald Trump becomes president. This doesn’t directly effect you all that much, but you will hate it all the same. For a while, you will feel there is no good left in the world, but there is, I promise. You just have to look harder to find it, these days. Oh, and you will later discover that he, like many people in 2017, is the absolute fucking worst, and you will no longer feel guilty about your angry blog posts about him taking up space at Wrestlemania.

You won’t be a Broadway star, like you wanted, not in 2017 anyway, but weirdly enough, Broadway World, a website where you spent most of your childhood, writes an article about one of your books this year, so that’s a nice consolation prize. You will go to university, though, like you wanted, and you’ll be a writer, which you’re just getting interested in now as I remember. You also dip back into music, and a song you compose gets thousands of streams on Spotify. I’m aware you don’t know what that means yet, or what Spotify is, but basically, thousands of people hear your music, and that’s pretty fucking cool. It’s like music downloads, except you will get way less money in royalties, so we aren’t exactly living fancy yet, but I’m working on it.

You are currently sad. I remember it so well, and I wish I could tell you that everything magically gets better, but it doesn’t. You’ll later be diagnosed with depression, and you’ll be resistant as fuck to it, because you’re used to helping the people around you with their own stuff, and it will be hard to accept that you need help to, but take it, because it doesn’t make you weak.

Depression isn’t your only problem. I know this is all pretty bleak, and I’ll stick more goodness in this soon, but I’m just writing it as it comes. You will go through many things that will make you question who you are, and will make you feel like life isn’t worth it, this will of course not be helped by the depression you are not yet currently aware that you have, but even without depression, it’s a lot to go through. You survive. That’s all I can promise. I can’t tell you it won’t hurt, but I can tell you that you survive.

Your handwriting never gets any better, by the way, but you have a very impressive typing speed, so stop worrying about that. You will barely write by hand once you leave sixth form anyway, and you will have the convenient excuse of never writing by hand, because you want to save the planet from deforestation. To be real, though, I think people are aware that you’re just really bad at writing by hand, but many people you meet are too polite to say so.

Right now, you think you’re very smart and mature, because you listen to radio 4, and read the Guardian, but you still have lots to learn, and realistically, you’re a very young fifteen, at least emotionally. I really wish we got a second shot at 2010, or any of the years actually, because there is so much we could do differently. There is so much you didn’t know, and so much that I can’t protect you from, that still haunts me to this day, but realistically, I can’t. We can’t. All that we can do is be thankful that we made it this far, and keep going.

Your survival is all that matters. Things will be tough. Things will be devastating. You will get your heart broken (no bones though, so we still hold that record), you will be disappointed, you will feel like a failure, but you will live on and you will feel joy, and passion, and pride, and you will survive.

Whatever happens, keep fucking going. You may not get exactly what you want, and things might feel hopeless some days, but you survive, and that’s all you can do sometimes.

As I write this right now, you are happyish. Things are okay. You’re currently waiting for your new music video to process through editing software, and trying to pass the time, by saying hello to the girl you once were. You had a decent night of sleep last night, despite being caught in traffic for ages. You look a bit of a mess because you didn’t put on make up this morning, but you’re still cute, and most importantly, you are still fucking here.


J x

PS. You don’t learn to swear less, and around 2012, you stop putting it on your new year’s resolution list, because it just isn’t fucking realistic. Sorry.

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I tried to hate him, I tried harder than I’ve ever tried at anything to hate that man. As I lay alone with nothing but a bathrobe and a small blanket for comfort I tried again. I closed my eyes and visualised his soft, gentle hands on her body and bit my lip to stop myself from wailing in agony. It hurt to think about them together, not psychical pain but emotional. When I thought about them I just wanted to cry.

I’m sure she has some kind of disease, which explains why he did it. It was probably just out of pity, it might have been her last time. Again I’m making excuses for him and I know I shouldn’t. They aren’t even good excuses. They don’t even make sense. He wouldn’t make excuses for me if I had done that to him, I like to pretend he would but I know he wouldn’t.

I didn’t see them, I didn’t have to because he told me. He said he was awfully sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again so I just nodded and carried on preparing breakfast. It was her job to do breakfast, she’s the maid so should have been busy but I’d imagine she was upstairs in bed. Our bed. I heard them the night before as I came in from drinks with a friend and decided to sleep on the sofa downstairs. I didn’t want to walk in and see them because that would make it real so I stayed downstairs and pretended.

After breakfast I played outside with the children for a few minutes before leaving them with the nanny so she could take them to school while I went to work. “Are you okay Madam?” She asked after sending the children to go and get their coats. I nodded and she nodded back at me. “I’m sorry.” She said quietly, I smiled in thanks and walked towards the car with my handbag on my shoulder, wondering who else knew about my husband’s blatant indiscretions. Rachel, our nanny, was the closest thing I had to a friend, and I was certain she was only my friend because we paid her.

I kept it together for the entire day, I stayed quiet at the office and kept to myself as usual. David would have been pleased. For a man who socialised with any woman who took his fancy, he had a lot of ideas of who I should be talking to. Namely, nobody but those in our isolated existence. My work wasn’t even mine. I had always been aware that he had set up my job with a friend, and that I was constantly being watched. Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure what my workplace purpose was. He probably just wanted me out of the house, so he could have more time with whoever he liked this week.

We all ate together that night, David sat at one end of the table and I at the other, the children sat together on one side and Rachel sat on the other. Mary had dinner in her bedroom because she was ill. I spat in her soup.

It was when the children went to bed that things got worse, David went up to check on Mary and Rachel went to read the children a story. I just sat in the kitchen looking into space not knowing what to do with myself. It had occurred to me during my dull work day of doing nothing but staying out of my husband’s way that beyond staying out of my husband’s way, I didn’t actually do anything. I had no friends. I had no hobbies. I only played with the children to give David some space.

After a few minutes of soaking in existential despair, I walked, almost robotic to my bedroom, fully aware of my husband’s voice behind Mary’s door, but also fully aware that I’d be doing absolutely nothing about it.

David’s tie was lying on the foot of the bed, I pushed it to the floor and began removing my clothes. I stood in front of the mirror in nothing but my underwear and took a moment to evaluate myself. I was acceptable. I always had been. More than that, I was beautiful. In my pain, and his rejection, I was beautiful. I took a moment to fantasise about a future without David. Taking the children to school myself, getting to know the mother’s at the gate, getting to know myself, maybe finding someone new, or not, it didn’t matter, just as long as he wasn’t there.

I took my bathrobe from the top of the door and wrapped it around myself, squashing the flames of my rebellion. The bed, as treacherous as it had been for keeping secrets, welcomed me and I wrapped myself up in the duvet.

I heard footsteps approaching and closed my eyes, desperate to escape, or even to find the bravery to consider the idea. “Kate.” David called as he pushed open the door, I didn’t open my eyes and simply lay still, unable to face him. “Kate are you sleeping?” I stirred slightly but kept my eyes firmly shut, I couldn’t bare to look at him.

“No.” I felt the bed dip a little as he laid upon the bed next to me, his breath was warm against my skin and his hand crept up my leg and under my bathrobe. I didn’t push it away because it was all I wanted. I wanted him to hold me so desperately, despite my earlier desperation for anything but.

“I’ll always love you Kate.”

I opened my eyes and laid in silence for a few moments. “Ok.”

I suppose it hurt his feelings when I ignored him, I just couldn’t handle telling him I loved him back. I did and we both knew that but he didn’t deserve to hear it from my lips. I rolled over and fell asleep hoping I would wake up from the nightmare the next day and it would simply have been a dream.

I awoke the next day with his arms around me, Mary was gone and everything seemed back to normal. He had made his choice and I suppose his decision was final, for a whole day all I wanted was for Mary to be gone so I had David all to myself but now I wished she had kept him. I didn’t want to be trapped any longer. If it wasn’t her, it would be someone else, and I’d be sat in that God forsaken house, screaming at the walls and my own lack of a spine.

I sat up in bed and heard his voice, it was hushed but just about audible. “I love you Kate.”

“Ok.” I said quietly as I took a step off the bed towards my old life.


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