On Sunday, you’ll turn 23.
I know that Blink 182 famously say that nobody likes you when you’re 23, but you’ll be okay with that by now. We’ve learned a lot over the past ten years, and realising that not everybody is going to like you was a late-but-welcome player in that game.
Right now, you’ll probably think you’ve got things sussed out – like all thirteen-year-olds do. When you turn 23 you’ll barely remember being 20, let alone 13, and the things that are taking over your life right now will barely matter. Arguments with friends might seem like the end of the world right now, but in ten years time, you’ll realise that it was all for the best.
I know that school is a difficult path to tread, and I can tell you that it doesn’t really get any easier. The “support system” in place in that school will let you down more times than you can count, and they will push you towards a future that is not meant to be. You will struggle with exams, you’ll fail prelims and it will be suggested that you’ll need to repeat a year – but you will persevere.
You’ll persevere, and you’ll ace those exams. The voices and guidance provided by the school will tell you to go to university. That voice in your head will tell you that fashion is the right choice and moving away will be good for you – it won’t. It’ll nearly break you, but you are strong, and you will make it through. At thirteen, you won’t even be thinking about your career path, but when it takes an unplanned turn you’ll learn to embrace it. It’ll work. You’ll find a new way forward and you will get to where you want to be eventually. Even now, on the cusp of 23, you’re not quite there yet – but it’s within reach.
In two years time, you’ll start a blog. People won’t understand, they’ll judge you and question you and it will become tiresome. Keep going, though, and it will change your life. If you could only see the position that you’re in right now, you’d be so proud. Sometimes you’ll wonder what the point is, and why you spend so much of your time slaving away on project after project, but just wait. You’ll prove them all wrong, and you will do great things at 23 years old and beyond.
In a few months time, you’ll meet a boy and you’ll think he’s the one for you. He’s not, you’re being the typical naive teenager, and he’ll only break your heart. You’ll think it’s love, but just before you turn 15 you’ll meet the real deal. You’ll go to a gig, you’ll discover your favourite band, and he’ll be there too. He’ll support you and make you smile and stay by your side through it all – stick with him and you’ll be ok.
Just now, you’ll be convinced that you’re set with a friendship group that will last a lifetime. Spoiler alert: it won’t. You’ll spend a lot of time chasing friendships that just weren’t meant to be, but it works out okay in the end. You have a lot of arguments to weather over the coming years, and it’ll feel like the end of the world, but you’ll come out the other side with friendships that are really built to last.
A lot of that will come down to how you, and they, handle your health issues. You thought migraines were bad? Just wait and see what’s in store for you, gal. You’ll get your first taste at 13, but in a few years time, you’ll have a lot more to handle. You’ll cope, but it’ll be difficult. In the next ten years, you’ll have multiple surgeries, you’ll lose your hair, you’ll be in a car accident and you’ll have plenty more doctors trips in-between.
You’ll lose a lot of weight in the coming year and food will be the enemy. In a few years time you’ll discover Dominos and the joys of dining out, so it’ll even out. For a while, you’ll hate the body that dealing with chronic illness leaves you with, but eventually, you’ll learn to be more comfortable in your own skin and appreciate what your body carries you through. Surprisingly enough, you’ll also learn to love the gym, too – although not quite as much as you love food. It’ll never be the perfect relationship, but you’ll appreciate yourself more one day – I promise.
Really, through it all, it’s no surprise that you’ll eventually be told you have anxiety. The start of university will be a low point for you, probably one of your lowest. You’ll cry and hide away and cut yourself off from the people who matter most, until one day the word is uttered and it all falls into place. Your mental health won’t define you, but it will hinder you until you realise you are more than a diagnosis. It will keep you up at night and you will be a ball of stress for years on end, but eventually, you’ll learn to somewhat manage it.
Most importantly, however, you’ll get through it all. In ten years time, you will be stronger than you ever realised, and you’ll look back at being thirteen with a laugh creeping across your face. As well as a substantial dose of secondhand embarrassment, because you were a bit of a twat at thirteen.