An open letter to my 15-year-old self


Hannah, you could not pay your future self enough money to return to where you are now. Trust me when I say that this is one of the least easy periods of your life and it really does get better from here on out. I promise.

Sure, there’ll be a lot of bumps in the road, and you need to be prepared to handle them with dignity (especially when you’re drunk – because you’re very, shall we say, spontaneous and in the moment when you’ve been necking vodka and Apple Sourz), because they are just that, bumps.

The things you will get most upset over – things like boys not texting you back, boys choosing other girls over you, fall-outs with friends, they will cause you so much short-lived pain. Pain that will hurt so much that it will feel worse than any physical pain you’ve ever known, but you’ll move on from them, you’ll grow stronger from them and they will, all in all, have very little impact on your life.

You’ll make a lot of mistakes, but even as a 25-year-old adult (uh huh, you actually become an ADULT, a real grown-up), I stand by it when I say, none of them were your fault. You felt awfully alone and abandoned, and you were. You were alone, you didn’t have enough guidance and you struggled with the independence you’d have forced upon you. But anyone would have.

But any mistakes you did make and did fret over, they meant nothing, they didn’t define who you became. Not one bit. You wait and see what amazing things you get in the future, you wait. You’ll have all the holidays and adventures you always dreamed of, you’ll have the wardrobe you pined for, a whole make-up bag CRAMMED with designer make-up. Sometimes you’ll go and get your nails done just because, you’ll buy champagne because why the fuck not, and you’ll be happy, proper delerious happy – the sort that makes you sometimes well up with all the good emotions.

You’ll be sat writing this to yourself on a brand new Apple computer which is sat on a brand new Ikea desk in a house that feels like home. In a house that feels like home more than anywhere has ever felt like home. You’ll be surrounded by photos of your favourite people, motivational slogans, candles and general pretty things. Pretty things you’ve treated yourself to and pretty things other people have bought you because you mean a lot to them.

But more than anything you will feel secure and safe and free and comfortable in a way you’ve never felt before and it will mean everything. You’ll feel overwhelmingly proud of where you got to, because you’ll have days where the future seems bleak and grey and sad.

There will be some things you never move on from. You’ll always struggle with your weight and your self esteem, whether you weigh 8 stone like you do now or the 12 stone you’ll weigh at university (uh huh you made it to university and yeah, you gained weight, but try not to think about it too much – you honestly didn’t look as hideous as you’re probably imagining you did), you will never rebuild a relationship with your mum because sadly she never was quite able to fight her drinking demons, and there will always be a part of you that believe you’re not good enough.

You’ll wonder why people love you, how they can love you, you’ll wonder why your employers hire you or like what you do or promote you and you’ll wonder why people enjoy the words you write enough to share it with their friends, to comment. You will be confused by your own ability to make a positive impact.

Some of the more exciting things to come your way include a cat (and you’ll name him Rudey after your granddad because sadly, and I know this hurts, but he won’t be around forever – but he’ll see you finish university, he’ll see you make something of yourself), multiple trips to New York (you told everyone you’d go back, and it was one of the first things you paid for with your graduate salary), your own business (no joke, babes), a job at LOOK MAGAZINE (look at you go, you high flyer, you) and a diagnosis for your messed up brain.

You know how sometimes you feel dark and sad and unhappy and pained? That won’t go on forever. People won’t believe there’s anything mentally ill with you because you’re a hormonal teenager, but you are, and you need help. You’ll get over your bulimia too – that bulimia that’s only been going on for a year or so now. When you started you thought it might just be a phase and you’d get bored of it, but it’s highly addictive and it will stay with you for most of your adult life up until now. It will be something you’re always aware of, rather than something that’s cured, like a chest infection or bout of Tonsilitis, so stay strong you little tyke.

You will change friends constantly, you’ll crash your car, you’ll have a few serious boyfriends and some less-serious flings, but you will make it to 25 in one piece. In one happy piece.

So my darling, keep looking forward – it’s where you happiness lies. Keep thinking about yourself and doing what is right for YOU, because you matter. You are the most important person in your own life right now.

Be kind, eat a lot of McDonald’s (it’s not a lie, your metabolism does seriously slow down with age), and have confidence in yourself. You are amazing. You will do amazing things. You will surpass all expectations of yourself. One day you’ll have your dream life and you’ll look back at where you are now, just wishing you could do something to help that sad, lonely girl, and you will feel so astoundingly proud of where you have got to.

Hang on tight, you will get there. You will get to the place where good things happen to you. It’s pretty glittery and spectacular.

And yes, your 25-year-old self does have a boyfriend (he’s nice to you and is pretty), a gym membership, a brand new Fiat 500, an iPhone 6, two holidays already booked up, Sky TV and an actual bed with a mattress topper. You did good, guuuurl.

One thing? Lay off the tweezers and packet hair dyes. Oh, and student overdrafts aren’t actually free money.

You’re so much more amazing than you realise. Keep going, because I love you and you have so much more to experience and achieve.

Love Hannah Gale, aged 25 and a quarter.

  • Beautiful 🙂

  • Jade

    I religiously read your work and always enjoy it – but this one got me! You made me well up! 15 year old Hannah would be so proud of you, I’m sure 🙂 xx

    • Tara

      You’ve just said exactly what I was thinking! Go Hannah! I wish we all knew this when we were 15…. xx

  • For me, being a 14 yr old, this post meant so much to read. To know that a lot of small problems aren’t as dramatic as everyone is hyping them up to be, and that friends are aways changing. It made me wonder what I’ll be like when I reach 25, and what I’ll have achieved. This post shows so much into your life and it’s so great to be able to connect with you through that. This post is truly inspiring. Lots of love, Lily

  • Sophie

    Loved this! I think this applies to your previous self no matter how old you are and when you’re feeling negative emotions just think back to this article and tell yourself you will make it in once piece, just as you have done already. Inspiring! Xx

  • Milly

    I can relate to this, and you SOO much. Thank you so much for writing this. I haven’t had your successes (which by the way are amazing, and well done!) but I’ve had the same troubles by the sounds of it. I too had an eating disorder for years, I too have an alcoholic mother and suffer from low self esteem. This reminded me to muddle through, and try to remain positive! I’m 22, and don’t have any idea what I want to do with my life, so I’m planning to travel, because what else is there to do when you’re lost? This post reminded me to be strong and to keep looking forward and keep trying. I hope the same for you too! You seem to be doing good!!

    Thanks a lot, Milly.

  • Go Hannah!
    Well done you for beatin Xg your demons! 🙂

  • Sophie

    This is one of my favourite posts that you have ever written! Absolutely beautiful! Go girl! xo

  • Beth

    This post is so beautiful Hannah! Reading it has given me a lump in my throat and well up a little. Stay strong, lots of love, Beth.


  • Orla

    I read your blog often and with every new post that I read I feel like we actually have the same brain!!

  • Zoe

    Hi hannah, ive just stumbled across your blog and I’m so glad I did! You are inspirational. I relate to everything you write about and it helps me get by. I suffer from anxiety and depression and I’m trying my hardest to beat it even though it will be here always. I wish I had a friend like you I could talk to about it! You seem like a great person! Keep up the good work you will get far! 🙂 love zoe xxxx

    • Milly

      You can do anything, each day will be a struggle but it will eventually get easier. Take care, Milly.

  • Beth

    Hannah, this is gorgeous. Made me well up a little bit!
    I love reading all your posts and can’t wish you enough luck for your amazingly exciting year ahead!

  • Love your blogs – in fact they’re the only ones I read! Can relate to the majority of things you write about and some of it takes guts for you to write no doubt! So thanks for giving me the odd giggle to myself at work and also letting me know I’m not alone 🙂 xx

  • Jo

    Stunning post Han, gave me goosebumps. Spot on about the tweezers! X

  • This made me well up a little bit on the train. Even as a 22 year old I know that I need to keep telling myself these things and that I will get a London career and do well soon!

    Keep smiling, you’re a wonderful lady xx

  • Hannah this is amazing! My favourite blog post of yours to date. Shed a little tear!

  • This was so beautiful and inspirational to read. I’m inbetween 25 year old you and your 15 year old self. At university and wondering where my life is going to take me. It’s good to know that life got better for you and I hope it does for every other struggling teenager too! Xx

  • What a beautifully written post. I think this strikes a cord with all us 20 somethings.

    Sometimes it’s tough to look back and realise how far you’ve come Hannah, but it’s so inspiring for others who are going through a rough time right now to read this and see that it doesn’t last forever… life changes and things do get easier! Xo

  • Tracy

    As C S Lewis wrote
    “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind”

    Love your blog Hannah, keep up the great work xxx

  • Olivia

    This is extremely, extremely lovely. The best post you’ve ever written (and that’s saying something because I think you’re fab)

  • Imogen

    Wonderful post. If only we could all send these letters to our younger selves!

    Really love your blog Hannah.

  • Kate

    Such a brilliant post. What amazing achievements to be able to look back on, I’m sure the next 10 years will be just as successful!

  • Wow! That post was truly inspiring I love how honest you are in every post, keep doing what your doing and it will all go swimmingly. I’m 14 and reading this is so relatable, this has such a personal connection and your writing skill is just incredible! Love your blog and you so much!

  • This was such a great post. It made me cry reading it on the train home from work and I didn’t have a tissue! I love your blog and how honest you are x

  • Hey Hannah,

    You were the first blog post I ever read and totally related to and since then iv been hooked to your blog 🙂

    You haven even inspired me start my own. I have only done 3 posts and don’t reallyy know what I’m doing but I would love it you had a little look it’s

    Hope 2015 brings you more happiness and good things 🙂

  • Ell

    I think this is my favourite post I’ve read since I started blogging, so beautifully written!

    I’m sure a 15 year old you would be seriously proud


  • Danielle


  • Emily


    This is one of the best things you have written! I read all your posts and can totally relate to everything you say. Made me well up!

    Keep smiling 🙂

  • Rachel

    I can relate to this post so much – I’m 24 and it sounds like we were pretty similar teenagers with similar problems. I can especially relate to the bulimia although that only affected me in my early 20s rather than my teens. I’m only a year younger than you but I’m not quite ‘there’ yet, I’m not where I want to be and I’m struggling with that… but reading your blog has given me hope!

  • Emma D

    This is so lovely, I’m sure the 15 year old you is super proud of what a strong, successful and lovely lady you have become! I am already mentally penning a letter to my 15 year old self, funny how everything back then seems like such a drama. Keep going with the writing, this is my fave blog! 🙂

  • Caz

    What a lovely blog post this is & made me sad but in a good way if that makes sense. I’m 44 with a 10 year old daughter who has Aspergers and struggles daily and this just made me think of all the things I want to say to her.
    Love your blog and this just proves how amazing you have done and how far you’ve come. Be so proud of yourself Hannah! x

  • Hi Hannah, I’m 22 and have recently started suffering from bulimia after quite a difficult year and an on and off battle with depression and anxiety. Reading this really made me want to help myself and knowing there are others out there who can get through it is incredibly reassuring and motivating. Thank you so much xx

  • Jessica

    Hi Hannah

    I’m a youth worker working with young adult carers. Many of them care for a parent because of alcohol and substance misuse – like I did when I was a teen but I wasn’t called a young carer I was ‘Jess with the fucking mental mum’ ha.

    I just wanted to share that I really really enjoyed this and felt inspired by it. I originally read it a few weeks ago but have come back and now printed a few copies off to share with the young women I work with. Many of whom struggle with body image, confidence, parents and self-belief and think there life is shit. This helps me show them that yes it is but it gets better but you need to work towards that happy place!!

    Thank you for sharing xxx

  • Such an inspirational honest post Hannah. I wish I had you as a role model when I was a very influential teenager because you have a serious wise head on those shoulders. I hope there are lots of girls that look up to you and take comfort in your words.

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