The Book Of Hope

ADVICE TO MY YOUNGER SELF

written in 2019, published in The Book of Hope by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger (published as chapter 1 in the book of 101 stories of hope) on 15 April 2021.

I can’t tell you not to go down the route you’re going to go down. I can’t tell you what to do. Knowing you, you wouldn’t listen anyway and that’s ok. I still don’t listen to everyone who offers me unsolicited advice. And that’s what this is – unsolicited advice. 

Years ago, a helpful person on my recovery journey suggested I avoided giving unsolicited advice or unsolicited information. There’s no point in offering it if the person isn’t seeking advice. And you’re not seeking advice right now. You’re the kind of person who needs to learn by observing, thinking, musing. You’ve got to make the mistakes you need to make – and they won’t even be the “mistakes” people tell you they are. They’re lessons. And you will learn. It might take repeated mistakes before you learn some lessons but life is a series of opportunities to learn, if you want. 

You’ll gravitate towards people on similar paths. Draw those closest to you who have gratitude and positivity in abundance. You get what you focus on and it’s easier to focus on the things you want if you surround yourself with people who have it. 

I can’t tell you one day it’ll all make sense. Honestly, I’m still confused. The real secret is that all adults are. There is no magic secret to life other than to keep going, keep rediscovering that beautiful, childlike joy of being alive.

Things don’t get easier; they get different. Any moment of darkness will pass. Every feeling that feels like it will go on forever will at some point end. Whether it’s a happy feeling you enjoy or a negative feeling you feel like you can’t withstand a moment longer. Everything shifts. I don’t know when it will, and I don’t know why. But I can promise you; every time you feel broken, you will come out stronger.

I’d love to tell you to fuel your body so your mind can achieve all it has the potential to. 

I’d love to tell you to ignore all the outward messages telling you you’re not good enough, to realise the school bullies were wrong, the adverts telling you to be thinner are wrong, the adults telling you to lose weight – their obsession is not on your holistic wellbeing but your physical health. 

I’d love to tell you every day to find at least 5 things you like about yourself and nurture those traits. What you focus on, you get. If you focus on positivity, you get positivity. If you focus on sadness and flaws all you will feel is sadness and all you will see are imperfections. 

Follow your bliss. If something makes your soul sing, makes you want to get out of bed in the morning, follow it. Do it. Make it your reason. Sooner than I did. Demand to do more of it. Whatever gives you lust for life and makes you want to live, do it, surround yourself with it, demand people take it seriously. If they don’t, find others who will. 

Above all, never give up. I know you want to. And I know you will want to right up to the day you become me, sitting here, writing this. As hard as it all will feel, it will be worth it. 

There will be moments, quiet moments between you and a sunset, you and another human, you and a whole roomful of people that will absolutely be entirely worth all the pain and distress you feel opening up inside you like a chasm. For a moment it will mend. You will be exactly where you need to be. And you will feel peace. Cherish every one of those moments. They won’t last, but more will come. 

And when you reach the moment where you are me, sitting here, writing this to you sitting there reading this in your own imagination…think of you in another 17 years sitting somewhere else, writing probably very similar words. 

  • Listen. Take wisdom in. 
  • Have a voice. Speak your truth.
  • Forgive.
  • Believe.
  • Get more sleep. 
  • Spend time with your mother. She’s the best human you will ever meet and you must learn all you can from her while you can. 
  • Be kind. If not to yourself then to everyone around you.
  • Kindness is power. It nourishes. 
  • Kindness is beauty. The kinder you are, the more beautiful you will be.

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