Letter to My Younger Selves

Mar 1, 2024 | 2024 Spring - Letters to Myself

By Anonymous

This one’s hard. You will live. You will survive. I know you think you won’t, but you do. You will be shaped by the absolute hideousness of humanity, but you will survive; and in surviving you will affect so many lives, with courage, with freedom, and with truth—and you won’t ever know how many or who.

To my very young self: Breathe. Try to stay calm. Try to talk to your brother more; try to listen to him more. Pay more attention to all the music he listens to and plays. Try to talk to your big sister more; learn how to sew from her. Laugh more with your dad. Follow him and your big brother around more. Learn as much as you can from them. Hug your mum more. Be kinder to your sisters.

Try not to listen to everyone’s gender bias. Don’t wear that awful hot-pink-and-white, frilled, polka-dotted and striped outfit you got for your ninth birthday—it will scare you off wearing pink for decades.

Don’t eavesdrop so much. You don’t need to hear those strange, quiet muffled conversations about this adult or that adult. You don’t need to absorb that ignorance. No one will lock you up and throw away the key. No one will send you to the looney bin or to an asylum hospital. No one will section you. Stay quiet, but don’t absorb that ignorant rubbish.

Don’t listen to your ballet teacher—you do have grace, and you will be enough. Keep doing ballet. Remember how much you love it. Be careful of your knees—wear the knee guards and do more strength work. That will save you from blowing your cartilage. Play more soccer. Remember how much you love the game. Even when the boys tease you, keep playing.

Sing more, little one. You have a beautiful voice. You don’t stutter when you sing. Really read and feel the music. Do more drama at school. You love those musicals and plays. You love Shakespeare’s sonnets. You love being onstage. It is frightening, but you do love it. Learn everything about the stage, about direction, about production. You never know where that may lead you.

Pick up your classical guitar again, young one. It wasn’t your fault, or your talent or skill, or the music or the guitar that hurt you. Find somewhere to play; find another teacher (and take your brother with you this time). Keep playing.

Don’t listen to your crabby art teacher, the one who doesn’t understand your abstract and your vision. Don’t let her or the other girls in that awful racist homophobic school rob you of your joy in art: in the abstract, in the bigger perspective, in sculpting, in engineering, and in design. Don’t let anyone stop that.

Do listen to Annette about your artistic talent. Go to art school. Don’t be so stubborn about not being brainwashed by more people telling you what you can and cannot do in your art. It’s your art, not theirs. But do go to art school.

Pay more attention to Paul Jarvis, the best teacher you will ever meet. Listen better, ask more questions, write better essays, read more books. He is offering you a way to criticize and learn to live in the world in the smartest way. History, argument, logic, human nature, and psychology. He really wants you to flourish and follow your righteous passion.

Don’t fight with your dad so much. Breathe and understand he is from a different generation and lived through deprivation and hardship at the hands of others and the war. Don’t judge him on what you think you know. Don’t fight with him. It takes a long time for you both to come back from it. And you don’t have the time. 

Tell Connor you love him, just one more time. Your heartbreak will be inconsolable, but you will survive. It will be one of the hardest years you will ever live, but you will get through it.

Watch the drinking, Kiddo. I know why you are doing it. You know why you are doing it. But if I could ask you to do just one thing, watch it. Don’t binge. Be responsible.

Let Andrew down easier when he asks you out. He is a kind and sweet young man, so let him down easier. I know you will try, but he will still be hurt. Don’t talk to Chris. He’s just a fool with a great car. Talk about the car but don’t talk to Chris that much. Do go on dates with Bella, with Christine, with Emma. I know it’s scary but trust me, you will find out more about yourself.

DO NOT go on that late-night date with Jon. He is a bad person, and you know it. Katrina is warning you, so don’t go. Don’t sneak out of Mum and Dad’s house for that late-night fish and chips. It ends very, very badly, and you won’t even talk about it for another 12 years. Don’t trust him, and just don’t go.

Do buy that Holden HD station wagon and get your brother to check it over with you. Travel around Australia—you will love it. Be careful walking through parks at night and buy a better camera to take those photos of the aurora australis.

Don’t marry John. Oh god, DO NOT marry John. Escape with Mardi on the houseboat. DO NOT marry John. Listen to Mardi when she crosses six lanes of highway traffic just like you do in your jeans and denim shirt, wedding hair done, veil on, to sit in that park in the middle of Ipswich. Listen to Mardi when she says you do not have to marry him. Obligation gets you four years, six months and three days of physical and psychological violence and harm. Do not marry John.

Make sure you see Mardi more in the hospital. Make sure she knows how much you love her. How she made you the best person you could be, how she gave you strength and truth. The next few years are going to feel like they are killing you, and in a way they are. You are going to be strong enough to survive, Kiddo. And I am so sorry you must lose her so soon.

Therapy is going to be very good for you. Don’t feel ashamed—none of it was your fault. None of it. Take your time. Listen to Christian. Trust him. He’s a good one. You will survive past 30, and that’s going to fuck with your head for a long time (every year, in fact), but I promise it’s a good thing.

Apologize to Belinda and to Sher. You will miss them for the rest of your life. Just talk it through with them. And tell them how much you value and love them, too. And stop bloody drinking so much. Just stop. The self-medicating isn’t helping.

Spend more time with Wayne. Spend more time in your world together. Travel more with him. Listen to him more and have him listen to you. Laugh more and cry more together. Don’t be so stubborn. Make up properly. Make up sooner. Go over to his place that Saturday. You’ll know the one. Don’t accept him changing plans. Just don’t. Tell him you love him and make certain he listens. Don’t leave him alone that Saturday. 

Put more money away when you earn it. You’re going to need it, Kiddo. It’ll seem like it will go on forever, but honestly, rough times are coming, and you will need all your savings.

Remember to breathe. The next few years are going to be incredibly hard. Harder than your 20s, harder than your 30s. So hard you will think you won’t survive. You are going to doubt everything and everyone. You are going to doubt yourself, and you are going to want to stop all the pain and heartache and grief. You are going to want to run away; you’re going to want to end it. But don’t, because you are going to find people who love you for exactly who you are. You are going to find your voice and you are going to find out exactly how amazing you are. What you have survived, and what you have turned that pain into. And your Beautiful Humans are going to love you for it.

You will live. You will survive. You will be shaped by the absolute hideousness of humanity. But you will survive, and in surviving you will affect so many lives, with courage, with freedom and with truth, and you don’t need to know how many or who.

Remember to breathe.


Anonymous, from Sydney, Australia, is a pansexual and nonbinary community leader, writer, and painter, grateful to still be here.

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