"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Monday, February 04, 2013

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Seventeen Year Old Me

Now Playing: Starlight by Taylor Swift (we were seventeen and crazy, running wild)

Dearest Seventeen,

You've made it. High school graduation. English Award. Certificate of Distinction. UWA. It's all you've ever dreamed of, and I'm so proud of you. You're made of starlight and you're aiming for the moon. You've got everything going for you, so don't hold back. Be fearless and begin again.

Dearest Seventeen, I hope you're proud of yourself, of how far you've come. You're not exactly the carefree roly-poly three year old who sat in the old booster seat at the back of daddy's car, but you're stronger, wiser, braver than trembling downtrodden seven-year-old you ever dreamed you would be.

Dearest Seventeen, you move on into the next year with fresh scars from 2012. Being sixteen was hard and heartbreaking and you're still hurting, but seventeen years of being me has taught me that you can get through anything. You're not like the other people that you're jealous of, the other people who have everything, the other people who hurt you. You've got something they don't - you've got the guts to jump in head first, fearless, and to get what you want instead of waiting for things to magically appear out of nowhere. Good looks and hoards of boys might seem like a good thing now, but these gifts are ever subject to the fickle devotion of people and a fleeting romance with time. Your spirit will stay with you forever, dearest Seventeen - not even two solid years of depression could quite kill it completely. Never stop writing how you read the world, and never stop dreaming impossible things. You're still hurting, but I swore that I would begin again for you, just like I swore I would be fearless when I was so afraid. If there's anything I've learned from constantly running from old enemies and old flames, it's that the past never fully leaves you, but you can stop it from haunting you, from hurting you. Dearest Seventeen, when I was little I thought sixteen was so grown up, but I still feel like a baby even though I wasn't really treated like one, even though there were girls who made this little piece of time we call the present a nightmare and men who were all too willing to take my childhood in their stride. You're still so young, and you've still got so much ahead of you. Things can only go up from here.

It's your birthday tomorrow, dearest Seventeen, and I wish for you everything you've ever wanted, because it's everything that you deserve. I wish for you to be fearless, be brave, and begin again. I wish for you to fall in love, with new friends, with new books, with new sparks. Sparks are already flying, dearest Seventeen. Be young and reckless, but don't get hurt again. Try everything, do everything, be everything you've ever wanted to be. School was a cage and now you've been set free. Take a deep breath and never look back.

That being said, though, dearest Seventeen, remember who you are, and remember what you've been through. Three open heart surgeries. Losing almost every friend you've ever had. So many days spent alone, so many nights crying yourself to sleep. Countless heartbreaks and disappointments. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, dearest Seventeen - be proud of who you are and what you've been through. Battle scars are nothing to be ashamed of, and you're perfect in your own imperfection.

Above all, dearest Seventeen, I wish for you to be happy. I haven't felt truly happy for a very long time now, but I hope, with the new adventure that lies ahead, you will find happiness to keep you company when things get lonely, or tough, or just to highlight those beautiful, glorious, euphoric moments. If you are happy, then nothing I've done has been in vain, and everything I've been through was worth it. All I want for you is to be happy, dearest Seventeen. That is one ambition that is an unchecked box, and it's your job to get a big fat tick in it. Good luck.

Dearest Seventeen, it snowed last night and everything looks fresh and clean and new - tabula rasa. You had the time of your life waging a massive snowball war with your new friends and you're with the best people in the world. Tomorrow is the start of something new - I give the pen to you to write this brave, exciting new chapter of your story. Life is beautiful, and you are fearless. Never forget that.

Still Sixteen

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