Editor’s Note: These letters are corrected only in the case of spelling and grammatical errors, for the sake of readability. YFH protects the privacy of its readers and uses a pseudonym in the title.
There are so many things I want you to know; and it will surprise you that the first of these things is that you should have listened to your mum. When she told you that none of the materialistic garbage means anything in the long run and that you should be happy for what you have, slamming your door and squealing “NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME” was probably not the best response. She was right—it didn’t matter that everything you owned was second hand, that you were a “loser” who wasn’t invited to parties or that boys didn’t like your haircut (you OWNED that funky blue crop).
Sadly, it takes you until you’re 18 to realise that the people you’d been busting your ass to impress in high school will never so much as cross your mind later on down the track.
Your mother also told you to focus on school work. Skipping class to smoke joints might seem like a lot of fun now (it still is) but you’ll always regret wasting your schooling years. Three months from finishing year 12, you’ll drop out to be a receptionist and move in with your first boyfriend (still the only serious relationship you’ve ever been in). These are both terrible decisions that will ruin many future opportunities. However in saying that, be glad that you learn a lot about growing up and how to live like an adult.
Know that you’re far too young to smoke cigarettes. It doesn’t look cool, you can’t afford them anyway and you’ll eventually find yourself where you are now, just months away from 21 still struggling to quit with a chest infection that never leaves and an inability to run more than 50 metres without losing your breath. Your health is more important than you realise, I do wish you’d take better care of yourself.
Learn to love yourself, accept your quirks. You will always be a little odd and your sense of humour won’t change—but people’s perception of you will. On multiple occasions over the years you will be referred to as “the ugly duckling that became the swan”. What they mean is that you grew your hair out and developed an impressive rack. Try to remember they’re still the same people that didn’t want to know you before they thought you were pretty.
Finally, visit your Dad. I’m not asking you to forgive him; even now I’m not sure if I do. However, when cancer takes him on December 1st 2010, you’ll forever regret the time you didn’t spend with him. You will never get over the searing guilt of him having to be an inch from death for you to make the effort to see him. You visit him for the last time on his 59th birthday, five days before his death and the sadness in his sunken eyes and the way his sallow skin hangs from his bones will haunt you forever.
In summary, a few things improve but mostly they just get worse. Sure, I have friends now, but I also have bills to pay and rent to make. I have more important decisions to make than what flavour supershake I want from the canteen. Life will never be as easy as you’ve got it now. This is THE happiest time of your life, I wish you knew it.
I love you and you should too.
READ PAST YFH FIVE YEARS HERE.
Five Years Ago is an initiative about perspective, direction and acceptance. It’s simple really: write a letter to your five-year-ago self and explain what’s happened in the five years they’re yet to live. Send us yours: firstname.lastname@example.org.