Words by Teri 21 VIC
Dear teenage self,
I know that sometimes things aren’t perfect. I know that the days feel impossibly long, like you’re perpetually waiting for a bus that never comes. I often think the whole fucking world thrums to the same dull, monotonous beat.
Maybe that’s too pessimistic.
It’s just that I’m not a liar, by nature – well, not anymore. I’m not going to dress the truth in pretty frills and keep you happy and stupid. It’s futile, I’ve learnt, to try to conceal the truth. I’d like to tell you that things get better, but as you’ve probably guessed, they don’t. That’s just a fact of life.
Things get harder as you grow, although it’s not all bad. You will, of course, experience joy. You’ll experience your first love; you’ll kiss under the stars and hold hands under city lights. Your heart will grow too. You’ll feel it swell with love.
Then you will break up, and your heart will be left crushed and torn.
You’ll retract inwards. All those secrets you shared, all the whispering under sheets and all the saccharine love will be gone.
You’ll feel trapped by darkness- but there is a way out.
You’ll learn that the pain too is a gift. Overcoming that pain will be the vehicle which transports you to growth. I think it’s in those moments of heartache that something burns brighter than fire, something within you. Maybe your soul, I don’t know. You’re an angsty, atheist teen, so the whole ‘soul’ concept probably makes you roll your eyes. I won’t bore you. You’ll find love again.
I think above all else, I want you to feel at peace somehow – the way I have. I want you to feel at peace with the darkness, find light in the little things. Find joy in the morning, the stillness, the quiet.
Be thankful for moments that you are walking, breathing, running. I know you hate sport and fitness, but there’s something in movement. There’s something in connecting with nature, or the universe, or whatever it is that compels life to grow and move and sway. There’s something in the way the clouds look painted across a lavender-blue sky. There’s something in a sunset.
I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out. I’m broken and bent, the same as you are. Deep down, I am still a lost, little girl. I hurt, I cry, I can’t cope at all sometimes. But I guess I’ve learnt that it’s easier to go with the darkness, let it be. It’s easier to breathe in, breathe out, let the silence reverberate through you. It’s easier to choose peace. You’ve got plenty more growing to do.
Your adult self.
Illustration by Aileen, You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc