An open letter to my 20 year old self on my 21st birthday

It’s your 21st birthday today. Congratulations, you made it this far.

Do you remember when you were in secondary school and you thought that even though it really sucked, soon you’d be at university and you’d be happy? For a while, you were. University was one of the best times of your life, coupled with some of the worst mistakes you’ve ever made.

Making a mistake is difficult. When something or someone makes you so happy and so sad at the same time, it’s hard to decide which feeling is real. What you should know is that everything you have felt is valid, and that will be the hardest part to face.

Turning 20 will be horrible for you. Turning 20 will be the beginning of the worst 12 months of your life. You’ll go into your third year at university which will be one of the most challenging times, academically and emotionally. You’ll re-start your entire dissertation two months before it was due but beyond all doubt, you got a first and it was totally worth it in the end.

You’ll leave an emotionally toxic relationship and lose two of your best friends in the process. Your best friend will keep the worst secret from you and you won’t deal with it well. What you should know is that if she was your friend, she would have told you. If she was your best friend, she wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

You’ll drink a lot to deal with how much you hurt inside. It might not be the best idea. You will hurt people who did not deserve to be hurt like that at all. Sometimes it’ll take drinking too much, throwing up all over the sofa and passing out in the shower fully-clothed to learn how to laugh at yourself again, and it’ll be a good feeling.

It’ll seem cliche, but you’ll learn who your true friends are. You’ll move in with the two nicest people in the world who will make the worst year that bit more manageable and you’ll have the time of your life living with them. They’ll stand by you when you’re at your worst and bring you chocolate when you can’t stop crying and don’t remember how to get out of bed. Cherish them – they’re two of the best people in your life and you love them.

The first 9 months of being 20 will be the worst 9 months of your life. You’ll hate yourself and won’t know how to be yourself. This is temporary.

When you turn 20, you’ll become single. For the first time in 5 years, you’ll want to stay that way. For the first time in 5 years, you’ll spend longer than a month single and it’ll be the best feeling. You’ll build a better relationship with your body and your mind. You’ll begin to remember who you were before your personality was taken away from you. You’ll build new friendships with people who are genuine and kind.

You’ll make it through. You’ll reach your 21st birthday with the best friends and a much better relationship with yourself. You won’t know what’s going to happen in your future, but you’ll feel ready to face it. You made it through and I’m so damn proud of you.

Happy 21st birthday.

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