Yesterday I turned twenty-seven. Just like that I was in my LATE TWENTIES. But actually it feels good. I think in some strange way I've been looking forward to being twenty-seven for a long time. It's like finding a new shirt in a fabric you absolutely adore but haven't felt in years. It's cosy.
Getting here wasn't. Not always. I've never had to fight in a war, I've never had to run from invasion or persecution, and I've grown up knowing that there wasn't any issue so big that I couldn't rely on my network of friends and family to support me. Besides that, I have my health, I have a kind partner who loves me, and many of my loved ones are only a phone call away. I've been lucky - I know. Much more lucky than most - I know. But there were dark days, and tough nights, hot weeps, and cold apprehensions. Some avoidable and others not, and it's hard to know which is which. But if I did have a chance to warn that young girl - if I could write a letter to my past self - here is what it would say:
Hi, babe. This is a rough, but exciting year for you. It's difficult to remember how anxious and alone you'll feel sometimes, because it's gotten so much better in every respect. I guess that's the most important thing for you to know. If you only take one thing away from this letter, let that be it - things get better. Loads better. Oodles better, even. Think you've got room for a few more lessons? Try these.
1. Lipgloss isn't a vegetable. And neither can you subsist on just watermelon or Heat magazine. Look after your body, even now.
2. Jake (name changed) is a literal psychopath, and you'll never remember him with anything more than overwhelming relief that he never got to inflict more pain than he has already. Cut ties with him ASAP.
3. It's okay to like being by yourself.
4. On that note, masturbation is not weird, or gross, or shameful. People are going to try and make you feel estranged from and embarrassed by your sexuality - don't let them. They are in the wrong, and will mess you up for years to come if you give them space in your life.
5. It's alright not to believe in a god, it's alright not to go to church, or pray, or wear a damn promise ring. All of that stuff can get really creepy in a small town hellbent on keeping the youth 'respectable'.
6. Look up feminism- it will blow your mind.
7. Spend more time with your brother. Protect him. For a lot of the next ten years, you'll miss him so much it hurts you to think about it.
8. It's called blush. Please, for the love of all things good, use it.
9. Your nightmares are manifestations of a kind of OCD. There are ways to manage it - you're not alone, and this isn't the end for you.
10. Read what Peter Singer has to say about animal ethics.
11. Stop trying to fix something in your friends that no one but them can change. Focus your attention instead on what some of your other friends can only say between the lines. Not everyone who needs kindness is loud.
12. Drinking is fun, but haaaave you tried yoga?
13. You can stop going to rugby games. They never get more fun, and pretending to like something will never get you a boyfriend anywhere nearly worth putting up with all that.
14. One day you do leave, and it is glorious.
15. Please stop dying your hair black. Ugh! No, man. It might not seem like it at first, but platinum blonde suits you way better. Actually, almost anything does. Whatever you do, just change it.
16. You have a temper, quell it now with something called 'mindfulness.'
17. Being at home is sometimes difficult. Carry on standing up for yourself, but do it with kindness. Everyone is human, and everyone hurts. No one ever thinks they're old enough, smart enough, or brave enough to 100% smash whatever problems they're facing. We are all trying to figure it out.