Dear Little Lil,
First of all, I just wanted to say how proud I am of you. You probably don’t know what’s going to happen in your life. You probably aren’t even prepared for it right now. But you survive and you will forever be a strong and beautiful young lady.
I’m writing to you because I think if someone did this for me when I was your age, I’d be so much better off. I’m going to get all the rubbish things out of the way first, so please forgive me for telling you all of this. You might not understand why or how these things happened, but they’re important and you deserve to know what’s going to happen in your future. You might think life sucks at the moment with homework, or friends being annoying and having silly arguments with your family, but trust me it gets worse. You lose the love of your life and 4 other friends within the same month in 2015. But you mustn’t forget that it’s a good life. They had great lives. And you were a part of those lives. You made an impression on them. So please remember that you did something good and pure for them, and you’ll remember them with your entire heart for as long as you live. As much as you pray, wish and hope, you couldn’t do anything to save them. You did your best by being their friend, and that’s what counts. So please, when the time comes, do not feel guilty. Feel the love you have for them. Remember their laughs, smiles and personalities. Remember the way they were when they were alive and happy. Remember the happiness instead of the broken heartedness.
Before I say this, just remember I’m writing to you from August 2017 so please do not panic. For the last couple of years in high school, you become extremely depressed. You get bullied by thee ‘friends’ you thought you’d have forever. This results in extreme mental health problems and you end up hurting yourself. You get to the point of doing something regrettable a few times, but thank goodness we have our mum! She’s a saviour and a blessing to us, kid. You go through hell and you get confused and ask ‘why me?’ as often as you blink throughout the day. But you survived, and you go on to help a lot of people by being brave enough to talk about your experiences. You even get to go on TV and talk on radio about it all. You snazzy thing. So please remember that not every bad thing that happens means it’ll forever be a bad memory. You have the power to make a positive from a negative. Just promise me to not give. Be yourself and be proud no matter what. Even when you get diagnosed with Cyclothymia and then Bipolar. You stay strong for me. You have so many good things to live for. I wish I could tell you everything that happens, but that would be spoiling the surprises. Just trust me on this, you will love every second of it.
You’ll go through most of your life thinking you’ll meet the friends you’ve been waiting for when you go to uni. But the truth is, you meet them when you apply to work at Lush Cardiff. You meet a second family and it’ll break your heart when you have to leave. The friendships you make, and the memories you’ll have will stay with you forever. It’ll be the best thing you’ll ever do (at least so far, I can’t talk for our future self for now).
Funnily enough, for someone who didn’t really want tattoos when they were younger, you’re tattooed and have been since you were 18. You decided to cover your body in art instead of scars that represent a negative point in your life. But don’t think you regret getting them. Every single one means something to you. Some are more emotional than others, you’ll love them all equally. Just think long and hard about what you want. Maybe you’d do something different to what I’ve done. Don’t get what you think others would approve of, if you decide to get any at all, get what you want. Tattoos are pieces of art that you’ll keep forever and ever. Oh! And one piece of advice with the tattoos. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions about tattoos bother you. Grandma will hate them no matter what, it’s Grandma. Grandpa will be okay with them, maybe not approve, but he won’t openly say he hates them. Strangers think their opinions are more important than your feelings, but remember that you are always allowed to feel the way you do. And if you want a paw print tattoo, then you bloody well get a paw print tattoo! Same goes for your hair… change it or keep it in whatever colour or style you want. It is your life, and you have the freedom to do anything you want with it.
I know you’re probably wondering this, but no, you’re not famous in the future. I know, I’m gutted too. You are so talented and so creative, maybe you can change that for me? You can write, you can act, direct and create anything you want. The world is literally your oyster. If you want to become an actress and star next to Josh Hutcherson, you do that girl! If you want to become a teacher or a physiologist, then you can most definitely do that too! Please don’t feel that you have failed in any way because you don’t end up exactly where you want to be in life. Because I promise you, it doesn’t really matter. You’re just here for the awfully big adventure.
My advice for you is to stay strong and stay safe in everything that you do. Never do anything you don’t feel is right. Or that something makes you feel uncomfortable. You put yourself first. That’s something I’ve only just started to do, and I am so much better after doing that. I do need you to give Grandpa a hug for me. I need you to hold his hand so tight and never let go. Tell him you love him and you will always love him. Same for Grandma. But promise me, Grandpa will get a hug so big he’ll be consumed by it.
If you need help, ask for it! There is no shame in asking for help, and more often than not you’ll need it. The same goes for if anyone asks for help, please give it when you can. Sometimes it’s just holding a door open, or even just listening to someone when they need a friend. You never know what someone might need. And you might find that you’ll make an important impact on their lives. Or you might find that people will see you as someone they can count on for the rest of their lives. Try and show love more. Laugh more openly. Don’t laugh if you don’t find something funny. Be unashamed, unafraid and unforgiving if you get offended or if you love something for how it is. That’s what makes you, well, you. You’ll learn that crying openly is completely fine. It’s nothing shameful to do. Everyone has a good cry every now and then. Show your emotions and be proud of the person you are. I am beyond proud of you. Everything you’ve done, everything you’ve gone through and will go through, you are a star and you will go so far in life.
The last thing I’m going to tell you is to stand up for yourself, your friend and family, your rights, beliefs and passions. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re worth less than anyone else. You have a voice, a voice that is fairly privileged. Let yourself be heard. Make a difference. Be a positive force in this world. Be a force to be reckoned with if anyone tries to rip you down. A quote you’ll fall in love with, and one you should stick with is this “in matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” – Thomas Jefferson.
I hope this helps you on your awfully big adventure, Lil. I’m sat finishing off this letter on the sofa with your mum, your puppy called Crowley and surrounded by love and happiness. Everything you go through will be worth the hell when you make it here. You will be immersed into an incredible world, where you learn new and exciting things. Experience love, hate, sadness, regret, joy, heartache, excitement and pride. The only thing I have left to tell you is, you will be alright. You’ll be bloody fantastic. I am proud of you. I hope I’ve made you proud and that I became the person you needed me to be.