Write a letter to your teenage self:
There are so many things that will challenge you in life, and challenge will push you to learn things that you really should never have had to know.
Sickness, emotional hurt, death. You know all of these things early, yet I’m not sure anyone ever tries to explain them to you properly. Instead you take everything in, and you understand it as best you can.
Help will always be there when you need it. If you need it. But it will take you a long time to be okay with asking, and even longer to actually accept it.
You spend years, trying to repress any part of yourself that makes you different. That makes you stand out. After realising you’ll never fit in, you try to change yourself, to make it less obvious that you are different. You try so hard to make yourself invisible.
You will repress every part of you that makes you unique, for fear that other people will judge you. But all the while, you will desperately seek some form of acceptance. First from adults, because as far as you are concerned they are right, and know what is best for you.
Some will see you, really see you, but their influence will be fleeting. Most will side with the masses. Most will tell you to be like those that make it hardest to be yourself. People will tell you to change, and because you can’t you will tell yourself you have failed them. That you have failed yourself. I need you to know that isn’t the case.
Darren I wish I could tell you that the loneliness goes away. I wish I could tell you that the love you so desperately wanted to feel is something you will have in abundance.
Perhaps never in the way you wanted. But you are loved. Your family’s needs will drain you, but they also love you. You have real friends, friends who you have absolute trust in and who love you. Not a pretend version of yourself, not a facade, not even the version of yourself you portray to the world to make it seem like you’re confident. They love all of you, with no parameters.
Love is hard for you Darren. It’s not something that comes easy for you. Even now the most important person who could love you, needs to remind himself every day that it’s okay to do so.
I’m so sorry for the damage I’ve done to you over the years. I’m sorry for punishing you, when you had worked your hardest. I’m sorry for not understanding what you gained, when you walked away from a path which seemed important. I’m sorry for pushing you to be something you are not. I’m sorry for blaming you, for the things in your life that you never had control over. I’m sorry Darren, for never trusting you to make decisions, for hiding and playing it safe, when I could have instead let you live. Truly live.
Worst of all Darren I am so sorry for not loving you. You are wonderful. You won’t always feel like that, but it is no less true.
What you overcome in life, is truly outstanding. You judge yourself against the worth and the attainment of others. You push yourself to grow and develop. But everything you do is done with, passion, dedication, and a sense of purpose and commitment which I cannot begin to commend enough. You can turn your hand to anything and make it work for you.
You’re flighty. You are easily distracted, but you always get done what needs to be done.
You have so much love in your heart, and you willingly invest it in others before you invest it in yourself. You push yourself to make life better for others and in so doing make it harder for yourself. You struggle to get by. You push to be better. And if those around you aren’t flourishing you will do anything you can to help them, or blame yourself if you can’t.
It’s both the best and worst thing about you Darren, and it will take you far in life, but the one thing that will evade you is your own sense of self. Your own purpose. Your own happiness.
But help is always there. Eventually you’ll ask for it. Eventually you’ll accept it. Where you go after that is up to you. But know that wherever you go Darren. You have my love, my support and for once your best interests at heart.
One day I may feel like I have found ‘my purpose’. But until I do, I would like to make you a promise: to keep trying, to enjoy what I’m doing, and to take care of myself. To live a life I am proud of, and one which allows you to be as happy as you possibly can be.