A Letter To My Fifteen Year Old Self

Hey,

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.

Besos,

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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An open letter to Miranda Larbi, in relation to unicorns.

Dear Miranda,

Let’s start with something positive (not that this post will be negative, but you know…) Congratulations on completing the London Marathon! I’ll probably never do this. I could pretend it’s because I’m busy at work, or otherwise occupied, but the truth is, that is part of my “Lazy Millennial” quota. Mother does not play that, so perhaps you’ve already beaten me at life before my whiney open letter has begun. Seriously though, that is an awesome achievement, and your articles on that were great fun to read.

I’m actually writing, as you may have guessed, by my obnoxious pink online presence, in regards to your piece in The Metro about Millennials and Unicorns.

I love unicorns, and I’m over 13. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I don’t care what you think, because I obviously care enough to write a blog post, but I do hope you’ll reconsider considering me infantile, due to this choice.

I mean, if you don’t, I won’t be crying into my Spider-Man spaghetti, but it would be nice.

I will start by being pedantic, and saying that as an adult, I can decide what is for kids and what is for me, and that I’m saying unicorns for everyone.

Okay, now imagine I’m poking my tongue out at you.

Go on, I’ll wait.

Okay, I’m done being intolerable and I’m going to talk seriously now. Let’s continue.

If my parent’s were honest, they’d say they found the beginnings of adult life difficult, and that the struggle never really goes away. I completely respect that. As it all turns out, being alive is actually quite hard, and the adult thing to do, is to be honest, at least with yourself, and find ways to deal with that.

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How Is She, Though?

You mentioned in your article that some members of older generations would manage the struggles of adulthood with drugs and alcohol, and while I respect their right to do so, if they really must, it isn’t for me. To be real, the NHS is in a bad state, and I’m not out here trying to make it worse by taking up their time with something self inflicted that could have been avoided by managing my stress in another way.

It’s all well and good to say that taking it easy and just having a drink or two to take the edge off is a harmless coping strategy, but high levels of stress can leave people susceptible to falling into bad habits with drinking, so it doesn’t seem a logical way to deal with stress and pressure, if you ask me (I’m aware that you didn’t.. also, is it still mansplaining if we’re both women?) because it can be a slippery slope, and I don’t own any shoes that are practical for regular ground, let alone slopes that are slippery.

Also, just to be pedantic again, but many under 25’s are not entitled to the national living wage, and many employers are unwilling to reward equal work with equal pay for all ages of staff, so some can’t afford drink and drugs whenever life gets too much anyway, even if they don’t intend to binge.

So, that’s drugs and drink out the window, so where do I go from there? I could take up some kind of sport, I guess, but I’ve never been the competitive type (I’m a Guardian reading pacifist, unfortunately), and I also have no actual skill in that department, so I honestly feel I’d be wasting everyone’s time and energy, and it would conjure too many unfortunate PE related memories for my fragile little mind to manage.

I could list off another bunch of hypothetical stress relievers here that I don’t want to do, but I’ll just tell you the things I do do (insert infantile, unicorn themed giggle here) to escape from reality.

For a start, I write. Maybe not well, maybe not in a way everyone likes, maybe in a way that some find troubling or problematic, but I do it, and I have a good time.

I also enjoy fun, cute stuff, because, to be ridiculously dramatic (I have a GCSE in drama and I’m not about to waste it), the world is pretty grim, and occasionally I want to brighten it up a little.

The key point is, however, that while I do spend my spare time writing soppy love poetry, with a unicorn pen (occasionally crayons), I’m still a hard working, well adjusted person who has earned the right to do it.

I’m still engaged in the world around me (yes, even when I’m “Always on that phone” as my dear Abuela says), I am still realistic about the path my life will take, and the way the world works, and have faced up to the lowered expectations of what I thought life could be, and am getting on with making the best of what I have. If I choose to do all that while sipping on a unicorn drink, does it make these things less valid?

Am I a little bit silly sometimes? Of course, but I’m an adult when it counts. Spending a few minutes of downtime drinking something cute, or listening to a Disney playlist gives the quick break I need so I can get back to taking on the world, and dealing with the real issues in my life, such as my absurd excuse for a sleep pattern, my high pressure job, and my quest to reach my 80’s without thinking I wasted time stifling the parts of me that other people thought weren’t appropriate anymore .

Liking pretty, glittery things hasn’t drastically impacted on my ability to function as an adult, or diminished my achievements and skills in the eyes of the other adults around me, because the past, as brightly as I was dressed during most of it, has still constructed a resilient and capable young woman, and that doesn’t disappear when I sit down to watch a cartoon, or dye my hair pink.

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Sorry ‘Bout It

I’ve survived the crushing disappointment of gaining a degree and finding no jobs waiting for me, the rejection letters and self doubt that came with it, the sadness of having to lower my expectations in regards to my childhood dreams of a big house, with a garden and a pool, and the sadness of lowering them again, because a decent, reasonably priced one bedroom flat with some heating and maybe a good sized bathroom is also unrealistic these days. I’ve faced wage gaps due to my age and gender, a Tory government, racism, Brexit, Steps splitting up, violence in relationships, bereavement, and so many other difficult things, and I’m still here. Glittery, defiant and annoying as hell, I’m sure, but I’m still here.

I am prepared to take on the adult world, to make tough decisions, struggle through hard times, and then struggle some more, I just choose to do it with pink nail varnish on.

The fact is, millennials are nothing if not resilient. We’re still here. We are still working on making careers for ourselves, and utilising the technology that many say we are addicted to, to find new ways of making money and finding sustainable and secure work. We are utilising social media as an additional tool to present ourselves and to learn more about the world around us, as well as to connect with those we care for, when we can’t be close to them.

I’ve seen millennials start their own businesses to create changes they want to see in the world, I’ve seen them embrace science and technology to create solutions to problems that they face. Millennials are opening their minds to new possibilities in what society can be, and are embracing the differences in the people around them. Millennials are politically engaged and aware of what is unfolding around them. Is it really fair to invalidate all this because they don’t adopt the typical adult aesthetic?

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Witty Caption, you know what I mean?

You could argue that being enthusiastic about fun, colourful things is infantile, but surely the entire sum of someone’s actions means more than just a few parts, no matter how brightly coloured they are?

We have grown up. We are here, in the adult world, doing adult things. To say that this is erased simply because someone older than us can’t see past what mug we drink from, or what coffee we order, says more about their own maturity than it does ours, right? Millennials have more than proven they can hang with the rest of the adults, and we have earned our stripes, and have a right to paint them rainbow if we want to.

Wishing you nothing but the best, in monochrome if you prefer,

J x


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