Dear 19 year old Abbey. You are so young, and full of so many dreams, and so unsure of yourself, and wanting to please the world and find your place in it.
So much is to come.
Right now you’re probably standing around the house half naked letting your fake tan dry, hoping every fan that’s turned on will dry it quickly, because you want to crack open that bottle of Passion Pop and put on your favourite mini dress (that time you saw a girl trying it on as a shirt and you as a dress, you laughed and thought how could she not know, but it really was a shirt) and head out dancing with your girlfriends.
Boys, let’s start with boys, because that is always on every 19 year olds mind.
There will be boys, some good, some shitty. That guy you’re with right now, the surfer who you think is so cool, you know deep down he is cheating on you, and he is, and has been for a year. I know you’re pushing away your family and friends because they tell you he isn’t good enough for you, they too can see that he just does not love you like he should. This one will hurt. But he doesn’t love you, and he is shitty when he tells you you’re pretty only when you’re tanned. That’s pretty shitty. Oh my darling, sweet, innocent 19 year-old Abbey, you will soon see that it’s not OK to be with someone who doesn’t make you feel wonderful.
You will date lots of boys after your heartbreak to make you feel like you’re in control, and sexy and in power. There will be boys with body issues, and eating disorders, the boy that sleeps in a boat bed, the boy that lost his virginity to you, the boy with the girlfriend, the boy that doesn’t want you he wants your best friend (you are going to make terrible choices with this one whose name doesn’t even warrant remembering, he will like your friend, this will hurt, so you drink drive to his home to seduce him into wanting you, you will sleep with him and feel so shitty, that you will drink drive yourself home. Also good news, this is the first and last time you drink drive, you know better!).
There will be the boy that wears suits, and takes you to fancy places, there is the boy that spits on you (this is a low point, but he was a dick), and then there is Tom, the boy that changes it all. That night you really don’t feel like going out, but you do because it’s your friends birthday. That’s the night you’ll see him across the bar with his blonde long hair, flairs and skateboarding bad-boy charm. You’ll flirt with him, and he will woo you like a true gentleman and be everything you were hoping he would be. This is the boy that makes it all the way through your twenties. Yep 9 years later, this boy is now a wonderful man.
You will make so many mistakes with him, but you will also grow together on an incredible journey that makes for one hell of a ride through your twenties.
Now let’s talk about tanning.
I know your current shitty boyfriend only told you were pretty when you’re tanned, but tell him to fuck off. Only you get to decide if you’re pretty, and you are. You are so beautiful, and young, and have pale skin that deserves your love. You’re very orange right now. A little too orange. It will take a lot of love from Tom and a move to Melbourne to finally feel love for your skin, but you do. So darling Abbey, put down the fake tan bottle, you don’t need it. You are beautiful.
While we’re on the topic of love I need to really tell you something. That time when you were 13 and your friends’ mum told you you’re not as pretty as your sister; I want you to forgive her. You’re going to hold onto that for many years, but there will come a day when you need to forgive her and let go of that. You are beautiful my young sweet Abbey, and no one can compare you to your sister. I know it’s tough, and a lot of tears will be cried over that comment, but you will let it go, and you will forgive that comment that hurt so much when you were so young. She didn’t mean it, she didn’t mean to hurt you, and it’s time to let it go.
You will fall in and out of love with your body for so many other reasons over the years, you will fluctuate from 52kg to 62kg in a matter of years, over-exercise, under-exercise, care too much, not care at all. But you do always dream of wearing a pair of shorts and feel comfortable beyond belief, and you do, and then you don’t, and then you do again! You get to the end of your twenties with a much greater love for your body. You learn how to move it in a way that makes you feel good. You move it out of love, not hate. This comes from yoga.
You try yoga. Finally! You resist it for years, out of fear you won’t be good enough, but you finally try it after a whole lot of shifts in your life, you actually try it for the first time at a yoga retreat in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle, and it changes everything.
Costa Rica? Yep you go there, and Mexico, and Cuba, and Canada, and America, and Asia and Europe. You travel a lot. But then you start to learn you are much more of a holidayer than a traveller. It’s OK to admit that. Holidays are fun.
That move to London you always dreamt about. You do it, but it’s kinda shitty. You struggle, and you struggle even more with your expectations. You thought it would be life changing, but you struggle when your expectations far exceed the reality, and you fall into a hole of trying to make it the dream you’d hope it would be. It’s tough getting a job (the Global Financial Crisis will happen just before you leave, and everyone will tell you not to go, so of course you go), and you really struggle to make the right friends. People just won’t light you up. But the good news is, you will only stay for a year, you will travel Europe for 3 months and then you will move back and start it all again in Melbourne.
Melbourne? I move to Melbourne I hear you thinking. You move a lot. You’re searching for that place or feeling that makes you feel you. You don’t know how, or where or what it is, so you keep chasing that life you dream of. You will move to Melbourne and find all the pieces coming together. But before we get there, you will live in a ton of share houses. Where people don’t flush the toilet, and your bathroom becomes a pit of poo. You will live with a strange guy that calls you one day saying he’s never coming back. You open his room to see his stuff all still there and a floor full of scrunched up tissues scattered amongst porn, seriously you can’t even see the floorboards, there’s that many tissues.
You will live with a girl who pretends she can’t speak English, but on your last day of knowing her she will forget and speak to you fluently. You will think it’s you and maybe it is, but who cares.
You live alone with Tom, back in share houses, alone again, and then with friends. Cherish this year living with friends, it’s going to be one of your favourites yet. These people will become your family, and will stay with you through it all. Your 6 years in Melbourne are going to be life-changing. When you first move there and find it hard to make friends, convince Tom to go with you to your first day of Uni (oh yeah, we go back as a mature age student), and he will introduce you to your new best friend. You will then have the most fun next 5 years with incredible people that really let you be you.
Don’t take Uni so seriously, you don’t need to get perfect marks to prove to anyone how good you are (you actually don’t ever use the degree, but your marks do get you a fun little scholarship so I guess it’s not all for nothing).
I know, we take our time to really figure out what it is we want to do for a career, and we are still deciding, because you’re you’re not going to settle, but good news I think we’re on the right track. So you try new things, you become a Health Coach, you start a blog, you build a business – it’s not all bad!
But life is good. You are happy. You will find a place that lets you be you. You feel like your puzzle has been put together, and you find peace. We are still learning to love our body, and we stumble with being unapologetically me, but that’s OK. When you reach the end of your twenties, you’ll be back in QLD near the beach, but this time pale and proud, oh and with tattoos – we do that too, you will have a puppy, you will be with the man you adore, and you will be happy.
And you will drink much much much less than you do now. The alcohol is hindering your memory (we don’t know this to be fact, but I have a pretty good feeling). You don’t need to be drunk to be pretty, or liked or fun. You can be all those things without the aid of Passion Pop (which I can happily say you won’t drink again after your 22nd birthday, also prices have gone up!).
A few last things, don’t feel bad you haven’t done ‘adult’ things like your tax, or buying a house, or have an easy to say job title, or invested in shares, or just general adult things. You have fun. And you travel (that’s where most of your money goes), and you move and you try new things. The adult thing will hopefully come in your thirties. Ok but maybe do a tax return, seriously it’s been years!
Oh and you are an introvert. All those sleepovers, and parties, and trips with friends, where it all felt too much and you felt strange for wanting time alone, yep, you’re an introvert. You need time alone to recharge. It takes you until 26 to realise this, but when you do, everything begins to change.
Enjoy the next ten years, but remember to love who you are, and be gentle on yourself. Never change who you are to fit in or please someone, you are wonderful. You deserve to love and be loved. You deserve to feel abundant and happy and all of the good things, so forgive yourself when you fuck up, and love yourself throughout it all, because it’s one hell of a ride kid.
Much much love
I was inspired to write this from reading 2 beautiful writers here and here send their younger self a love note. I think it’s good for the soul, it’s good for the heart, and on this full moon, if you feel called to, write your own. Write to you. To that inner teenager inside that needs some extra love.