A Letter To The Anxious Fifteen Year-Old Me

Taken by me — Sunset, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

There seems to be a reoccurring trend about what you would say to your younger self these days. As you get older you tend to reflect more. You look back to your past to appreciate how much you have actually moved forward. But sometimes you even look back and see an area in your life that you haven’t moved past yet. But that’s okay. It is okay to admit that it is hard to close a chapter on a part of your life that you’ve held on to, whether or not it was subconsciously done.

I am currently an unemployed twenty-three year old. A friend of mine told me that looking for a job is a full time job. Wise words. When I am not job hunting, writing CVs and cover letters to the point where I want to stab a pen in my eyes from looking at the screen so much (I am not one for putting things in my eyes), I am cooking or reading or drawing or playing sims or playing my ukulele or writing or just anything really to pass the time. But when I catch a moment of solitude, I am reflecting back to the person I was when I was fifteen. I realised how much I have grown as a person. I mean you do think it, but when you’ve had the amount of free time I’ve had recently to really dive deep into that deep black hole, it kind of hits home.

I woke up this morning not feeling great if I’m being honest. The sun was shining, it wasn’t that cold, there was blue sky and yet I couldn’t appreciate it. I was on the train thinking how unemployable I am and trying to hold it together and not burst out into a sobbing mess of a human being in public. Especially in London. I mean damn it we’re meant to be stoic, cold, heartless creatures. But everyone at some point hits that wall. That stupid unemployable wall where you doubt yourself and every choice you’ve made throughout your sorry life. That was the worst part. I doubted myself. I managed to pull through and get home. I brewed some tea and started thinking back on my life before I hit that wall. So what would I say to fifteen year-old me?

You’re Smarter Than You Think You Are

Academically I was always told I was never that strong. My GCSEs grades were not that brilliant. I was more of a C average student. I was too busy talking in class and all around having fun. However I realised that if I put my mind onto something, I can achieve good things despite what my teachers told me. A-levels? I surprisingly did well, straight Bs. Although my mother did say when she saw my results, “Oh is that it?” and yes she is Asian, stereotypical I know. Anyway my A-level grades got me into a decent University. You know what? I graduated with a 2:1. Take that teachers who didn’t believe I could even get into University, let alone graduate.

Don’t Worry, You Won’t Let Your Anxiety and Your Depression Rule You

To put it bluntly, I have anxiety and depression. I used to get bad panic attacks. For those who doesn’t know what it feels like, it is horrible. It feels like you are about to die at any moment. You feel like you can’t breathe even though you are breathing but your mind isn’t saying that so your heart races at a millions miles an hour to the point you think you’re having a heart attack. But how can you even be having a heart attack? You’re young. Well you must be because now you ache and feel numb in places that you shouldn’t be. Wait is that a headache I’m having or is it a blood clot or cancer or what? Where is that even coming from? Is this normal?

That’s what it feels like in a nutshell. It was so bad I couldn’t even sleep. Insomnia was my friend from out of town that would come over and crash in my bed for awhile. Insomnia crashed for about three years on and off. My boyfriend at the time was good with it, he would stay up on the phone with me for hours until I fell asleep even though he had work early the next morning. Once I nearly didn’t get onto a plane because for I had a huge panic attack. I even had a panic attack at the Singapore Zoo once. Who does that? I had to sit down for about two hours before I managed to calm down. I felt so embarrassed, especially because it was in public and I was with my friends (who I thank for everyday) because they sat with me until I was okay. Sometimes if the train is too crowded, a panic attack hits me and I have to get off at the next stop, no matter where it was.

With depression, I find it hard to get out of bed sometimes. Its difficult for me to get things done because I feel like there’s no point. I feel sad in the morning time, then I cry, I feel numb and then I don’t do anything about it. That’s the worst part of my day.

However, despite everything, I have managed to cope with it a lot better than I used to. I don’t get panic attacks as often anymore and when I do, I power through it. I do manage to get things done when depression decides to play. Hell I’ve worked, I’ve travelled across the world, I’ve partied, I’ve managed to live my life day to day without being scared to feel alive like I did back then. That’s the most exhausting part isn’t? To want to live.

It’s Okay To Be Vulnerable

Friends both old and new have commented that when they think of me, they see me as a happy-go-lucky sort of person. That its a part of what makes me super awesome and an all around charming creature to be around. However, I do have the tendency to not speak up if I’m upset. Do not be a closed book. It is okay to allow your guard down every now and then. Yes you have reasons to be cautious with your feelings but your friends and family are there for you. They tell you over and over that it is okay to let all your feelings out, which you have done after about ten pints, a few shots injected into your system and you’re a crying mess on the floor and they sit right next to you no matter where you are. Being vulnerable is never a sign of weakness. Go with your feelings. You have people in your life who are always there for you. Do not be afraid of letting them in. They actually like you.

You Are Going To Do Things You Never Thought You Would

-This includes, moving to London. 
-Graduating in English Literature and Creative Writing. 
-Writing in my blog because it’s about time I started one. 
-Learning to play the ukulele since I’ve always wanted to. 
-Working at a Reading Festival with my friends. 
-Travelling with my friends throughout South East Asia. 
-Travelling by myself to New Zealand and making friends and amazing memories along the way. 
-Sky Diving in New Zealand. I never thought I could jump out of a plane at 15,000ft. Legit thought I was going to die. It was the best thing I ever did.
-Walk up volcanoes. 
-Going scuba diving. 
-Going snorkelling. 
-Watching the sunrise with a bunch my friends and a bunch of strangers on a beach in Indonesia. 
-Watching the sunset with my friends and a bunch strangers on a beach in Thailand. 
-Making new friends and believing you were destined to meet because you feel like you’ve been friends for years. 
-Getting out of your comfort zone. 
-Hug an elephant.
-See beautifully decorated temples.
-Jungle trekking for six hours.

You are meant to live. Life is full of blessings and opportunities. Take them.

You Are Going To Meet The Best People In The World

I have met the most strongest, kindest and beautiful souls in the world who I am lucky to call my friends today. I am very fortunate to have friends spread across the globe that I met from school, university, work and travelling. I wouldn’t change anything about them. There are friends who you won’t speak to for a long time because you’re either in different time zones or you’re just busy because life is funny that way. But when you reunite it’s as if saw each other yesterday. Or if you’re in a pickle they’ll always be there for you no matter what the time, space continuum, life. That’s beautiful. That’s friendship.

Remain The Happy Person You Are Despite The Odds

Despite my anxiety and depression, I am a happy person. I have been told that I am too nice for my own good sometimes. However, I believe you should treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

Once while doing a promo job during university, I had a shift over a few weeks for giving out flyers for a pizza restaurant. Everyday I would be outside and I would talk to these two homeless men selling The Big Issue magazine. They are lovely human beings. After every shift I would give them both any change I had, usually about £3 each a day. They would always tell me,

“No you’re a student, keep it. You do this all the time.”

Each time I told them, “Nope, we’ve been through this before just take it.” Like just please take my money and take care of yourself.

One afternoon while flyering in a different area to where I normally was, I saw these two young men who kept looking at me and talking amongst themselves. One of them came up to me and asked,

“Were you giving out flyers with those two men selling The Big Issue yesterday?”

“Yes, that was me, why?” I said

“We were watching you from a restaurant and we saw what you did. We think you have a beautiful soul. I just wanted to tell you that. Have a nice day.” he said

They said those words. Word for word. Hand on my heart. And off they went. That was one of the most rewarding moments in my life. I never thought much about things. I talk to people no where they come from. But sometimes you don’t realise your actions speak a lot louder than you think until it takes a stranger to tell you so. The world will reward you in some small way.

Even if someone isn’t very nice, which is rare. But don’t be afraid to stand your ground and right a wrong when you see it. Just stay the nice and happy person you are with a positive outlook on life who helps out their friends, even in your darker moments that will happen from time to time. Your friends will thank you for it. You will feel amazing for it. Trust.

Allow Yourself To Fall In Love Again One Day

I’ve only ever been in love once. It hurt. It hurt a lot. It was as if someone ripped out my heart, tore it up in front of me, wrapped whatever was left in barbwire and shoved it back into my chest. Like all relationships there’s the good and the bad. So in many ways it was a very long-term, beautiful and passionate relationship and I wouldn’t take any of it back. Sadly, the bad outweighed the good. Since then, yes I have had a long line of casual lovers and one night stands. I have explored my sexual horizons in a healthy way and I have had fun. After being in relationship for nearly five years, I needed fun. Honest. However, I am afraid to let someone in. I am scared of feelings. I am terrified of embracing any sort of attachment because the first one was so painful. Allow yourself to accept someone who wants to be with you for you. It’s going to happen. Man up and go with it.

Follow Your Dreams

I know this one sounds gross and cliched but it’s true. Do something that makes you happy. I told myself when I was fifteen that one day, I will be living in London. Well that came true. Here I am sitting in my little room in London. I have been here for nearly five years. I got this far. Now on to getting a job that I actually love or remotely like and getting paid to do it. You can do it if you put your mind to it. Stick to your guns. It’s a tough road ahead. It’s challenging, but hey where’s the fun if it’s easy? Do not give up.

Thank Your Parents For Everything

My parents are incredible individuals. Our relationship has been through some bumpy rides. We’ve had our ups and downs as you do when you’re the first-born child. You know, breaking every single rule because you are a terrible rebellious teen. However, they are your parents and they love you regardless of everything. I have been so lucky because my parents only want me to be happy. They don’t care what I do as long as I love doing what I do. Thank them for accepting and supporting you in all your ventures. They have your back no matter what.

How to end this? Well the lesson overall fifteen year-old me:

Take chances. Take risks. Be bold. Be Brave. Take life as it comes. You’re going to be okay. You’re life isn’t so bad. Just be you. As Buffy the vampire says, “Seize the moment because tomorrow you might be dead.”