You’ll smoke, but give up

Dear Hannah,
I don’t really know what to say.  I’m not sure I want to say anything.  Do I really want to try and tell you something when you’re 16? You’re so preoccupied with your exams and friends I’m not sure you’d be bothered.  You’ve been worrying about your GCSEs and A Levels – believing you won’t do well and you’ll never make it to uni.  You think you won’t have a decent career and you’ll be broke all the time.Let me take the pressure off a bit.  You get through the GCSEs and the A Levels (only just, mind).  Eventually you’ll look back and laugh.  You’ll realise they weren’t the end of the world.  You’ll go to uni, but it won’t be when your friends do.  It’ll be years later when you’ve found the career for you and you want to specialise in it.  You will love uni.  You will love the course, the deadlines, the exams, the assignments and the people.  You’ll surprise yourself too, especially with your results.  You become very competitive.  Unfortunately I don’t yet know if you’ll get your degree though.  Something comes up half way through the degree which will mean you have suspend your studies  This will break your heart, but it’s the sensible thing to do.  Trust me.  But just so you know.  You’re lucky enough to not have to pay uni fees.  Your employer puts you through uni and believes in you.  You will love it but at times you’ll wonder why you do it.  You’ll earn good money too.  You’ll sometimes think you don’t have much money but actually you’re more fortunate than most your age.

You will unfortunately be crap with money.  You’ll get an overdraft and a credit card.  You’ll forget to save.  You’ll lay at night worrying about it and panicking.  You don’t get in trouble, but you do learn your lesson.  You will regret spending your inheritance even though right now it feels great.  You will imagine you’re being made redundant probably every week or so.  You’ll sort your finances out though, but it’ll only be because you get a wake up call you never expected.

You’re a bit rubbish with relationships.  You’re not good with boys.  You let your friends do all the flirting, you just watch from the side lines.  You’re not comfortable with yourself and you certainly don’t like how you look.  You’ll question your sexuality and tell your friends and family you’re into women.  They’ll accept it and be supportive, but eventually you’ll decide perhaps you were wrong.  Maybe you thought it was more acceptable to do that than not have a boyfriend because you think you’re not good enough.

The friends you have now won’t necessarily be around in the future.  Some will leave your life for good, and others will return later on.  You’ll meet some wonderful people when you start working and go to unl.  You’ll find a support group that will pick you up when you’re on the floor in a heap.

You will fall in love.  It won’t be with anyone you imagined you’d fall in love with.  It’ll surprise you.  It will consume you.  It won’t go to plan, but you will feel your heart swell with love.  There will be other relationships though, although eventually you’ll see them more as flings.  You don’t stick around for too long.  You’ll spend your early twenties dead against the idea of marriage, then you’ll warm to the idea and eventually wish you had that.

You’ll smoke, but give up, and drink but not excessively.  You’ll experiment slightly with drugs, and hate yourself for it.  You’ll over eat and then starve yourself.  You’ll exercise then not bother.  It’ll take you a long time to find a happy medium, but you’ll learn how you work.  Eventually you’ll like how you look.

You know how right now you think you’re misunderstood and the whole world is against you? Well, you’re being dramatic.  It’ll be in your twenties you realise what pain and hurt is all about.  People you trust and love will hurt you beyond belief.  It will shake you to your core, but you’ll get through it.  It’ll feel like the end of the world and sometimes you’ll feel like giving all up and walking away.  It’ll take years to accept it all and you’ll fight with yourself daily, but one day you’ll let go.  You have to, for your own sanity.

Right now you’re terrified of getting old.  You think it would be awful.  You’re not scared of dying, but getting older yes.  Horrific idea.  Things will change though and one day you’ll pray to be allowed to grow old.  I wasn’t going to tell you, because I don’t want to worry you or panic you but you’ll get ill.  You’ll be twenty seven when you find out and it’ll be the biggest fight yet.  You’re going to be diagnosed with cancer.  There’s nothing I can tell you to do to prevent it.  Perhaps you could stop smoking and go running more, but your Oncologist puts it down to poor genes and possibly just really bad luck.  Your priorities will change.  You’ll grow up.  You’ll discover things about you.  You will realise you do want to live, for as long as possible.

I don’t want to tell you anymore because you need to just experience it.  I could tell you about it, but really you’d not appreciate it.  You need to be there.

What advice would I give you?  Learn to like yourself, you’re not that bad.  Go out a bit more, and don’t panic about being out late on a Sunday.  You’re not at school anymore.  Don’t spend all your wages.  Stop hurting yourself.  Try not to think of mum and dad as super heroes.  They’re only human and they will let you down.  Live your life how you want to, not how you think you should.  You get one go at it.

Take it easy and try to enjoy your twenties.  Oh and go and meet him, don’t wait for cancer to make you realise what a mistake you’ve made.




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