I’ve recently done some work with Universal Pictures as part of their campaign to celebrate the release of the Lady Bird DVD starring Saoirse Ronan (which is out today!) and one of the things they asked me to do was write a letter to my teenage self. I thought I’d share it in full here – you can also watch me reading it over on IGTV!
To my teenage self,
The world is big. So much bigger than you think that it is, or feel that it is right now. That girl you hate? The one that calls you that horrible nickname that you’ve learnt to laugh off because everyone thinks it’s funny and it’s easier? She’ll be one of the only people you keep in touch with regularly from school. She’ll go through her own shit and she’ll grow to understand the world is bigger than her too.
Your mum? The only human on the planet who enrages you by simply turning up in a room? You’ll learn the reasons why she struggles to say she’s sorry, admit she’s wrong, be vulnerable. You can’t know now but you will, and when you do, you’ll realise that the world was so much bigger than her once too. You’ll understand how once, the world, the big ugly scary place that it can be, landed on top of her when she was not much older than you. How it almost squashed her, left her alone, but how she found the strength the rise up and carry on. She gave that strength to you so yes, while she may be a royal pain in your ass sometimes, she’s the reason you’re an ass kicker yourself. Or you will be.
That boy you love? The one that’s older than you? Yes, he’s hot. Really hot and everyone thinks so but one day, not today, you’ll understand the difference between love and infatuation. Infatuation is loud and boorish. It makes you feel smaller than you are as it looms over you in all its powerful, overwhelming, addictive, orgasmic glory. It’ll consume you and it will, eventually, eat you up and spit you out. Infatuation will feel like you’re flying, higher, faster than everyone else but like Icarus’s wings, infatuation will melt when you get too close to the sun. It will implode, explode and it will leave you in pieces. That’s not to say it’s bad or wrong – trust me, that boy you’re infatuated with will show you some of the best times of your life. That boy will be instrumental in showing who you are, who you are meant to be, but he will break you and while you will expertly put yourself back together, you will always carry a small hairline crack; a crack that you’ll work hard to cover and only reveal to the best of people.
Love, then? Love is quiet and sure. Love is powerful but gentle. It’ll still rock your world but it will not destroy it. It will soften your falls and it will hold your hand when you’re alone and it will make you strong. You will find love but it will come in the most unlikely of places when you least expect it and you will be ready. But don’t ignore the boy just because he isn’t tall enough, or because his hair is too red.
And you? Do you love you? Can you? Oh there are so many parts of you that you hate right now; that you compare to others and find wanting. You’re not tall enough, slim enough, you can’t sing (you actually can, don’t believe your head mistress when she called you a ‘groaner’ in primary school), you’re not smart enough, athletic enough. You feel distinctly average and disappointed about that but trust me, you are not. It will take you a little longer than some to find your style, your vibe, your confidence. It will take you a while to find your people, to find your passion but when you do, you will be far from average. You will spend your life creating and making and you won’t always be rich (there’s a part of me that wants to tell you to get a proper job with a salary, but I know you won’t and anyway, the freelancer life is always interesting) but you will always be wealthy in other more important areas.
So start walking. Be infatuated. Be angry. Hate your mum. Love your self and your thighs. Create. Make. Sing loudly and always, always, be unafraid to stand up, speak and smile.
*This post was part of a paid collaboration with Universal Pictures.