DEAR SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD SELF

31.05.16

Dear Seventeen-Year-Old Self,

Ignorance is bliss.

Today you graduate from high school and are equal parts overwhelmed, terrified and excited about what the next few years will bring. Leaving home for the first time to live in a new city, with new friends (and no parents), and your expectations are high.

If you had any money you would bet almost all of it that you will meet the love of your life, cruise through a few business papers, discover the joy of being a proper ‘adult’, and graduate at the end of four years with an impressive degree and the job offer of your dreams.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing you have an empty bank account.

And while we’re on the topic of money, I would strongly suggest hunting down a finance tutor immediately. Doing that paper twice will be soul-destroying, and mum and dad won’t be thrilled.

The good news is that your time at uni will be the best years of your life. You will find friends who feel like soul mates, and boys who are worth the chase (or at least the short sprint…), you will make outrageously dumb decisions that create the best stories, and hangovers still aren’t that bad.

But you will also experience heartache that feels like being punched in the stomach, and failure that feels like standing in a room full of people and suddenly realising you are naked. Teacher’s don’t know your name, there is no such thing as ‘nap time’, and you have literally no idea how to cook a decent meal, for five people, for under $20.

Basically, it will feel like you were promised a Mathew McConaughey RomCom, and instead given a copy of The Shining.

I’m not writing this to dishearten you, or to talk you out of the decisions you endeavour to make. I’m simply trying to lessen the blow, because you are fast-approaching a decade of your life that will be, well, kinda shitty.

Your twenties will feel like jumping out of an airplane with no instructions on how to inflate your parachute. But what’s worse is that it doesn’t even match your outfit.

You will feel a little undercooked. Like you were thrown onto the dinner table before anyone checked if you were ready, or if you were still raw on the inside.

You will look in the mirror and see a child in a pencil skirt, wishing she still had someone to pack her lunch in the morning. You will pretend you know what taxes are and that you paid your rent on time, and you will finally understand why people hate Mondays.

You will learn things about yourself that you wish you hadn’t.

No, you are not for everyone. You are filled with too many oddities and too few consistencies. You don’t have that spongey filter in your brain that stops you from saying things you shouldn’t.

You will never be able to play it cool.

But your friends are legends. They are the most intelligent, outrageous, hilarious and brave women you will meet and for every year they remain in your life you will understand more and more just how lucky you are.

I turned 23 years old today and I’m starting to believe that most people in their twenties don’t even have a parachute. They just jumped. Hoping that their devoted parents, unassuming friends, Netflix and chocolate would be waiting at the bottom to catch them.

So when you start to feel suffocated by pressure, when the stakes seem too high or the risk too great, try and remember the world’s best kept secret: no one else knows what they’re doing either.

We are not obligated to follow the choices we make at 17, or worse, the choices your parents made on your behalf. Decisions only define your future if you let them.

Now, I could finish this off with an inspirational quote I found on Google or an acronym for L.I.F.E. S.U.C.K.S, but we’re not in high school anymore, and not every speech, letter or essay will have a happy ending.

All I really want to say is, be patient.

Trust that life will inch along slowly and things will eventually get better.

Remember that change takes time, and luckily you’ve still got plenty.

Love,

Madeleine


Header image by The Twenties Club