Notes to My Younger Self

Good Time Girls by Jack Vettriano

Good Time Girls by Jack Vettriano

Last week, I wrote a post about a relationship that, even now, I struggle to admit was abusive (I usually just call it “toxic”). A few days later, someone asked me if I would go back in time and avoid the whole thing. Surprisingly, I said no. While there are things I wish I’d known or understood, that experience was a pivotal one. It’s quite possible that, if I did change something, I wouldn’t end up being the person I am today, and I like that person a lot.

That said, I do like the idea of going back in time to have a little chat with myself. In fact, I keep a list of things I’d probably tell myself over drinks, and not just regarding that relationship. Maybe it’s just that I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife but even if younger me ended up doing everything exactly as I already had, it would still be nice to have my future self’s perspective on certain things. Plus, I’d kind of like to hang out with me (pretty narcissistic, but true).

So, here’s my list of 15 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self:

1. Try not to drink quite so much (she says, sipping a G&T). You don’t have to stop, but you’re using alcohol to numb things you need to pay attention to.

2. Don’t smoke. Like ever. Yeah, I know, this one’s a drag. But here’s the thing – we quit ten years ago and I still miss it. And it’s so bad for you. So don’t start. Don’t bum that first cigarette from Theresa Flynn sophomore year, okay? Just don’t do it, because you’re going to love it and it’s going to suck when you have to stop.

3. Write more. Right now. Write more. Worry about getting good later. Right now, you just need to write. Get it all out of your head. Writing will help you think, and honey, you’ve got so many big, messy feelings, you need to make some space to think. Plus, it’ll give us something bittersweet / poignant to read down the line.

4. Sex. You’re going to love it. LOVE IT. You’re going to gobble it up. But, it’s also going to make you vulnerable, and that’s ok. In fact, that’s good. Just try not to confuse sex with love. Sex and love go together like chocolate and peanut butter, but they don’t have to. You’re not a bad person if you just want to fuck. And you’re not unworthy of love if that’s all he (or she, because you’re totally bi) wants too.

5. Don’t cut your hair short. I know it’s shallow but seriously, that Audrey Hepburn pixie thing you want so much? Don’t do it. And if you ignore me (because you probably will) and you hate it (because you’re totally going to), don’t spend two years growing it out just to cut it again because “maybe you’ll like it better this time.” You won’t, okay? I promise.

6. It’s fine that you have small breasts. I know you hate them. I know you’re hung up, but no one, and I mean NO ONE, cares. Meanwhile, you have no idea how good they can feel, and that’s a freaking crime.

7. You will love him but he will never love you. He’ll want you. In fact, he’ll want you so much it makes him sick, but he’ll never love you. (See #4). There is no way to make that not hurt and it’s going to fuck you up. But it’s also going to be ok. You will get yourself out. You always do…just, maybe, try to do it a little sooner this time around.

8. Don’t move to Texas. (No offense, Texas. We’re just not a good match).

9. Eating a jar of almond butter with a spoon* is not a solution. You know that. That said, stop beating yourself up about it. If it bothers you so much, put the fucking spoon down. C’mon, girl. Either own what you’re doing or change it. <3

*Also applies to wine, bourbon and gin. And cigarettes. And casual sex. Fuck, you’re vice ridden…

10.  There is a difference between testing your limits and disregarding them. You can take a fantastic amount of damage. That doesn’t mean you should inflict it on yourself.

11. Museum studies. It’s a thing. Look into it while you’re at NYU. Also, acting will never make you happy the way writing and academia do. I know your ego wants it and I even know you’re good, but try to channel that energy into your real passions and not a glamorous fantasy.

12. Your self-image and your reality very often don’t match. When that happens, one of them has to change. Either adjust the way you see yourself, or work to become what you wish you were.

13. You’re going to do what you do. It’ll be easier and you’ll suffer less if you follow your instincts, worry less about what other people expect and own your choices.

14. When you first start to write, you’re going to obsess about details. You’re going to strive for perfection in tiny, precious works. You need to. I get it. Here’s the thing: you’re going to suck. It takes years not to suck. Just lay off the impulse to grind every story down and keep cranking out the words. They’ll get better and so will you…And maybe try erotica sooner.

15. Stop faking orgasms. I now you’re nervous, but it’s keeping you from feeling real pleasure. Spend some time with a vibe and your hand because you can come, honey. Oh my god, can you come. Your body can do things you can’t even image. Just take your time and learn yourself.

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  1. Great post. There is so much I would change, things I wish I’d done differently. Things I wish I’d been brave enough to do. I’m not as happy with who I am now as I should be and I wish I could change the things that made me like this. 🙁

    • Figuring all of this out took me close to 20 years of slow work and there’s still so much left. One thing that’s always helped me is trying not to wish for a different past, but to figure out what went wrong and why, and then let that understanding help me make different choices. It’s a little thing, but given how prone I am to guilt and self-loathing it helps me take positive action, rather than bury myself in helpless regret. Also, lots of hugs are good. Lots and lots of hugs. ((hug)) xxx

  2. Thinking about it, I don’t know that I could write this post to myself. I haven’t accrued the experience or wisdom. You’ve clearly come a very long way in your life.

  3. I absolutely love this. It made me think of the letter I once wrote my younger self and I guess there are more things I can add to that letter.

    One thing that is very true for me now is your number 12, and especially this: Either adjust the way you see yourself, or work to become what you wish you were.
    I need to decide what I want… either the one or the other.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Rebel xox

    PS: And like you, I wouldn’t want to do things differently, as everything that happened in my life made me to the person I am today 🙂

  4. This is a wonderful post. The things we wish our younger selves knew. Not regrets, just wisdom. And I love your advice about writing. I write everyday and I still suck. Maybe one day I won’t.

    • Thank you! I wish someone had told me not to worry so much about being good when I was just starting. The pressure I put on myself really tripped me up. As for you sucking, I’ve read your blog and I have to respectfully disagree. I love your voice – your warm and really easy to engage. You can’t learn that – you’ve just got to be lucky and have it, and you do 🙂

  5. I love this post. I don’t know if I could do a similar letter to myself, but I really liked to see the love, concern, and wisdom you shared with your younger self.

  6. I love this! I wrote a letter to my younger self too,
    If only we had this experience and knowledge when we were younger… But then I guess we would miss out on the lessons along the way.
    You gave excellent advice to your younger you. The affection you feel for her is clear.
    A lovely post Malin.

    • Thank you, Kat! I just popped over and read yours. It’s lovely, especially the reassurance and advice you gave your younger self. Thanks for stopping to comment and especially for sharing your own letter. I wish there was some way to send these things back in time! 🙂

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