To 13 Year Old Rebecca,
I’ve started this letter a hundred times and struggled to find what to say. I am torn between whether I want to prepare you for the dark times that you will face in a few years or try and boost your confidence which I know you so desperately need.
You are going through an internal struggle right now. I remember it well. A power struggle between friends. Not knowing who is a lifelong friend and who you probably won’t ever speak to again. My advice is to just let it ride out. I know that the more insecure you feel, the more over the top your actions are but you just need to relax. Losing a couple of friends isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s just the start.
There are a few friends in your life that you are still best friends with now, 10 years later. There’s one thing you’re never going to be short on and that is true friends. You are good at judging someone’s character and you should trust your gut. I promise you you’ll know who the good ones are and they’re really good ones (you know who you are reading this).
Don’t worry about not feeling like you fit in with people your own age. Age truly doesn’t matter when it comes to friendship. I know you feel like everyone seems so much older than you but many of them aren’t happy with their life. Try not to obsess over it (though that’s easier said than done). Believe it or not, many of them are acting the same now in their mid twenties than they were 10 years ago.
It is okay that you hate school right now, you won’t hate it forever. Once you settle down and the battling is over, you will find yourself comfortable again. I’d tell you to work harder and stop talking so much but you’ll do okay either way. Try and hold onto the knowledge that you are a better learner than you think. You learn quickly and yet your confidence is at a low right now.
You are capable. You are a good student. You love learning. Don’t forget how much you love learning when the politics of exams comes into play. Don’t let it dull your excitement at learning new things. Don’t just learn what you need for the exams, learn about what interests you. It will help.
College will give you the best memories but it will also be a dark time. You’ll recognise both aspects but it will be hard to struggle through. Just remember that you’re not alone and if you reach out and talk to people, you may be surprised at just how many people feel very similarly.
You are going to go through a period in your life where you’ll feel completely isolated and like there is no one to turn to. It’s not true. People are more understanding than you’ll believe. You are strong and you’ll come out the other side even though it will sometimes feel like it is never-ending. I want you to know that you don’t have to feel guilty.
You’re going to constantly be evolving and growing. Growth is painful. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re taking 100 steps back but that is okay. Progress isn’t linear. You are a lotus flower. Knowing all of your flaws will feel overwhelming at times but it is actually a good thing because you’re actively going to be trying to be a better person.
I want you to write down how you are feeling. It helps. You will also read back on it when you’re in a better place and it will give you hope. As they say in Les Mis, even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.
I hope I have made you proud. I think I am. I may have imposter syndrome as I am living our dream but I’m working on it. You are going to have a challenging 10 years to get to me. You are going to surprise yourself in positive ways but try not to judge yourself too harshly when you make mistakes. You might not like yourself very much right now but I love you. I just wish I’d treated you better when I was the 13 year old.
All my love,
23 year old Rebecca