Dear teenage me, stop being such a feartie

Inspired by some of my old colleagues, who were in turn inspired by Victoria Beckham, I’ve penned a letter to my 18-year-old self.

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Me at 18 – this is the only pic I can find without going up the loft. Honest

Hi Frances

The nicknames will come, I promise, but sadly no one will ever embrace Frankie. More on that later.

Right now you’re an incredibly naive 18-year-old who is about to start college and embark on a career in newspapers. You haven’t got a single clue, but that’s ok. Neither does anyone else in your class. And you don’t know it now, but you’re about to make one of the most significant and long-lasting friendships of your life.

You chose journalism because you have a passion for writing, but somewhere along the way you’ll lose sight of that because words will become your trade, not your inspiration. Fortunately, there’s this incredible new invention coming along called the Internet and you’ll rediscover your writing mojo. Embrace it.

You’ll eventually lose the naivety. That bit won’t be pretty, but you’re more emotionally mature than you give yourself credit for. And you’ll always have humour to get you through the worst days.

Oh yeah, on humour – sometimes, no matter how funny you think you’re being, you should know when to shut the eff up. Timing is everything.

You’re not fat. Honestly, you’re not. You’re a wee bit plump. Try not to be quite so self-conscious – eventually communal changing rooms will die and you’ll be able to strip down to your scants without worrying about a judgmental audience tutting.

The chest region is, however, over-endowed and that’s never going to change so get measured properly for a bra much earlier than your 30s (!) and never ever skimp on well-upholstered lingerie.

Most of all, you’ll stop being afraid. Afraid of change, afraid of being on your own in the flat at night, afraid of being embarrassed, afraid to move away, afraid of a new job, afraid afraid afraid.

You will have a good career and be sensible – eventually – about your finances and mortgages and stuff. Then it will all go to glorious pot in your 40s but that will be even better because you will have stopped being so bloody scared of life.

Most of all, you’ll stop being scared of who you really are. You’ve always known you are a lesbian, but the very idea of even saying that word out loud has turned you into a bit of a baby bigot. Making snide remarks about other women/girls who might or might not be gay is not cool. You’ll learn that the hard way. So stop it now.

But when you do finally accept that everything – fun, joy, passion, love – is passing you by because you are living only half a life, you will be free. And you’ll get horribly hurt and do some horrible hurting of your own and all of it will be worth every miserable, splendid, unforgettable second because you’ll be yourself.

Appreciate your parents much more than you do – they are magnificent and you’ll only realise how magnificent when it’s a little too late.

Most of all, know that nothing in life is ever set in stone. No job, no relationship. Change will become something you embrace, not evade. And when the greatest change of all comes along, it will be because of the promise of all-encompassing love.

Grab that change with both hands. It will be the best thing that ever happens to you.

Enjoy the ride, Frankie. Okay, maybe that’s a nickname just for me and you.

________

Debbie also penned a letter to her 18-year-old self. Unfortunately, we don’t have a pic of her from that time… yet.

Dear Debbie,

You’re 18, what do you know? Actually you know a lot! You know that you value people above objects, you know that you want to make things better for everyone, and you’re already hoping that there’s a certain someone for you.

You’ll spend years having fun, taking wrong turns, trying to make up for mistakes that weren’t yours in the first place, and even when you’re having the best fun ever, you’ll worry that you’re not good enough.

Know three things:

Everyone round you will have more qualifications/degrees than you but you know as least as much as everyone else

Fighting for equality is never a lost cause – there will be rewards in the most unexpected places.

And hold on to the fact that the love of your life will find you and make you feel more happy and complete than you can ever imagine – at the exact point that you are able to accept that you are worthy of the happiness she offers.

For Orlando, with love

Today the worst mass killing in US history took place in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

A lone gunman, armed with an automatic weapon and who knows what other firepower, walked into the Pulse club and opened fire. At the moment 50 people are confirmed dead and another 53 are being treated in hospital for their injuries.

It is a horrific crime, heartbreaking and incomprehensible in its scale.

We have watched today in tearful despair as the news got ever grimmer from the scene, the pain and terror of those caught up in the attack and of the friends and families waiting in dread for news palpable.

Speculation is naturally rife as to the “inspiration” behind this dreadful attack.

I’ll spare you the time – it’s hate.

Religion isn’t the only driver of homophobia and hatred towards LGBTQ people, but it sure as hell provides a neat cover for those who cannot abide the progress made on civil rights for a minority that has suffered – and in many places around the world continues to suffer – blatant discrimination and oppression.

Well, hate can never be allowed to win. Especially when all we want to do is love and be loved.

Share the love. And keep in your hearts everyone who went out for a night of fun and dancing with friends and lovers – and who will never go home because of one individual so filled with hate.

#lovewins