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.

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