The piece you’re about to read is the fourth in a collection of introspective, raw and impactful pieces to be published here on MEDUSA. Motivated by the cathartic power of writing and reflecting, many of our contributors are sharing the words they would offer to their younger selves if they were able to travel back, reach out and subdue the uncertainties they encountered earlier on in their lives. With such an open-ended prompt, the letters divulge a myriad of memories, affording insights into challenges faced, extending words of wisdom and ultimately honouring and acknowledging how much the author has grown and learned.
Eden Szymura, co-founder of MEDUSA is the incredibly talented writer and artist behind this empowering and uplifting piece.
Eden entwines humour with sage words of wisdom to celebrate and take pride in all that she has learned and become. I hope her bold and vivid writing encourages you to look back on your teenage years with the same fondness and affection.
Take a few moments of calm to enjoy and let us know your thoughts,
I’ve been avoiding writing this letter. I’ve loved reading the others, and the supportive affirmations wrapped up in comforting sentences, but I’ve struggled to buy into it for myself, or rather, for you. It’s been a difficult few months, but we’re getting through the clouds now.
A lot happens in seven years, Eden. The time between you at sixteen, and me, at twenty-three, feels vast. There’s so much I could say, but most of all, I want to reassure you that you’re going to be okay. You really are on the cusp of growing up – yes, I sound patronising, which you’ll hate, but it’s true.
Eden, I admire you. I admire how, even in your insecurity, at sixteen you are so certain about right and wrong. The lines do tend to blur a bit as you get older, it’s rather frustrating, I know, but stick to your guns. Keep that fire burning, it’s going to push you into meeting the most amazing people at university who are also driven to make change. And, please, keep harassing the misogynistic boys at school. As you get older you’ll realise it’s really not worth engaging with them, but for now, you go girl. You are gobby, and passionate, and driven, and damn, I wish I could get some of that teenage sass back.
Look, the next few years are going to be tough. There are going to be moments where you slam doors shut on trauma and burrow your head underground, and you know what, so be it. Never feel guilty about doing what you need to feel safe. There will be a time and place to process your emotions, and you’re in it for the long haul. And that, my love, is totally fine. In fact, it’s normal. I can’t promise you’ll ever ‘figure it out’, but anyone who says they have is bullshitting you, really.
Eden, you’re special. Not because you do well at school, but because you are perceptive, empathetic and driven. I know you think that your success is a coincidence, be that academically, in friendships, dare I say in relationships to come, but you are the common denominator! It’s you! It’s always been you! You already have everything you need, which is the capacity to learn, reflect and grow. Look, you’re going to make mistakes, but that really is part of the process, and I’m sure there are plenty more to come.
Finally, there is so much to be excited about. You’re going to have a wild ride, everything from nightmare neighbours when you’re living by yourself in Spain, to getting so drunk one New Years’ Eve that you get three hours sleep before spending an entire day with your then-boyfriend’s extended family. On that occasion your best friend – yes, the same one – also leaves mascara tear marks on your boobs, and your mum feels like a ‘prize cow’ after you show your friends how good her legs look (they’re very good). But, as much as that hangover is going to hurt, I wouldn’t have it any other way. You and your friends will, quite literally, joke about it for years.
So, teenage Eden, consider my limited wisdom imparted to you. I leave you with the following advice: be curious, give yourself permission, and, most importantly, never delay your happiness. You’ve got this.
P. S. Have fun for god’s sake.
Click here to find more of Eden’s work and to follow her on socials.