Now Playing: Sweeter Than Fiction by Taylor Swift (seen you lost in the crowd, seen your colours fade, wish I could make it better, someday you won't remember the pain you thought would last for ever and ever)
It's late in the afternoon of the first day of my eighteenth year and I'm nursing a beautiful hangover, but I'm sober enough to tell you that you did okay.
I know you were hoping this year would get easier for you, but it doesn't. Uni is hard, and even though you don't need to catch up in terms of books and papers, you do need to catch up on just being the grown up that you aren't yet. There are fights. There are tears. There are bouts of melancholy that last for days on end. Every day is inebriated with crippling anxiety. But you still do okay.
I want to tell you that you're back in your element. You're back to being the eight year old who knew exactly where she's going; it hasn't changed much, but the detours between then and now have been insightful, if not exactly useful. And I know that doesn't seem like much, because you were bullied so much for being a dreamer, but it's what keeps you strong, and it's what keeps you going.
R leaves. It's not kind, and it's not out of mercy. It's ugly and cruel and you are the target and collateral damage all in one. You don't know whether this is a good or bad thing, or whether you wanted it or not, or whether you expected it or not, but either way your world falls apart. You were broken and he put you back together, and when he left he took the time to rip you to pieces again. There are anxiety attacks, every day. You can't look people in the eye, and you start to stutter again. Some days you can't make it out of bed. But the one thing that keeps you going is that in English class, you can't shut up even if you try. And even when your phone was buzzing with the final assault, you kept talking, and people kept listening. I don't blame you for being dependent on that boy, Seventeen. It doesn't make you weak or pathetic. You're strong. Because no matter what happens, you keep talking, and people keep listening. And no-one is ever going to take that away from you.
You join Guild politics, and it makes you feel alive. You talk to people. You make new friends. Slowly the panic attacks fade and the smile grows. And you learn that people can tell you that x and y is stupid, but you'll do it anyway, and you do so well. You make mistakes, and you get hurt, but that's just growing pain. Everything is reckless and exciting and everything has the sweet tang of freedom. You're growing up, and people are starting to take you seriously. You've always wanted to be a force to be reckoned with, and I think it's finally happening.
I know you're angry, and I know you're hurt. I know you just want to be happy, and in some ways you are happier than you've ever been. But even in the blissful glow of a very recent birthday, I know we've got a long way to go, but we'll make it, together. Without the bullies. Without the haters. Without R. We'll do it alone.
Dearest Seventeen, don't cry. Because on your eighteenth birthday, you do what every eighteen year old does; stumble around. But you've got friends to hold you up, and when you're not intoxicated, you hold your head high just fine by yourself. You'll be okay. Trust me on this one.