If I could send this letter back in time; I would.
If I could go back knowing everything I know now; I would.
Zoe, you’re 22 now, and you’ve made it mostly where you want to be, but as I know where we are now, I want to pass on some advice.
Learn to say no sometimes. Only do the things you want to do, not what other people want you to do. Don’t succumb to peer pressure. That includes your parents. They are not supposed to live through you, you don’t have to be what they want you to be. You’re different, and that’s okay.
Be careful who you trust, don’t put yourself out for people who only throw it back it your face. People will try to walk all over you; don’t let them.
You will be crossed by a lot of people. Some of them will come as no surprise, but others will hurt and leave you questioning everything. Just know that these people were meant to leave. You won’t miss them as much as you think you will now.
Stay in school. Yes, the bullying was awful, but people grow up, and those that don’t won’t matter. Right now it would be so much easier to find interesting work if you had some further education. Stand up to the bullies, what were you so scared of? That they might ruin your high school life? The world is so much bigger than that. You’ve come away from school doing a lot better than they hoped you would. They were nasty, bitchy girls and shallow, immature boys. Please know that their bullying was a reflection on them, and not you. Be who you are, and don’t let them bring you down and stop you from reaching your full potential. It does end, and you will hear their words less and less as time goes on.
Don’t take the office job. You’re so much better than that. It may have paid well, but what’s the use in money when you’re too miserable to enjoy it? You may have had weekends off, but weekends are overrated anyway. The office jobs will suck the life out of you, and you’re too young to be getting so worked up over a crappy job that doesn’t really care about you anyway. Ignore what society says you should be doing, do something you enjoy.
And finally, don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams. Don’t be ashamed of what you want, no matter how unconventional. Your dreams and aspirations are not stupid or unachievable. And when the road ahead looks difficult, don’t give up. Trust me, you’ll have no idea what you’re capable of if you don’t keep going. Pay no mind to those you don’t believe in you; believe in yourself. You don’t need someone else to prove your worth. Stop seeking approval from those who are scared to see you succeed, and just go for it.
I wish I’d heard this advice when I was younger, I made all kinds of mistakes I wish I could go back and fix, but I managed to make up for them further down the line. I quit the office job eventually, I’ve started realising and chasing my dreams again, and although it’s harder now than it would have been had I started years ago; there’s no point in beating myself up over a past I can’t change. It’s never too late to start again and live the life you always wished you had.
Hang in there, because it gets better.