The piece you’re about to read is the seventh (!) 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.
Amelia Groves is the fantastic writer behind this empowering & reassuring piece. In her letter, she reflects on our troubling tendancy to idealise our teenage years & the relief that comes with growing through them. With generous vulnerability & openness, Amelia boldly shares her experiences of acceptance, self-awareness and sexuality.
Take a few moments of calm to enjoy and let us know your thoughts,
Dear younger Amelia,
To be honest with you, I’ve found it really hard knowing what to write. I flicked through some of my old diaries earlier trying to imagine you, aged 16, sitting at my side, and what wisdom I would bestow. But truth be told, I feel so terribly distant from you now; I have shed my skin several times over since our last year of secondary school. That’s obviously a positive thing, as I feel like I have peeled back the layers of internalised misogyny, homophobia and what society expected of me. Now, I am starting to carve out a space for being someone I quite like.
Now aged 22, I am so thankful that you’re documenting the pivotal parts of our teenage years. I can quite literally, open a page in our diary and read about our days, hopes and dreams all those years ago.
On reflection, I feel like there’s an inescapable ideal of how teenage years are supposed to be super romantic; how we’re supposed to miss the carefree nature of them when we reach our 20s. But for me it’s completely the opposite. We both know I spent many of those years feeling confused and frustrated. I never felt like I ‘fit’ anywhere, I wasn’t really sure who I was and I just felt a bit stuck. I had wonderful friends and a great home life, but something was missing and I just couldn’t figure out what.
So, the first thing I want to tell you from my older vantage point is this: you’re getting there. Aged 22, you’re not where you’re supposed to be yet, but you’re getting closer to feeling like you. You’ve tried on many different coats that don’t fit but now have finally found the right wardrobe.
A big answer to some of that confusion is that you are queer! Yes, the girl crushes you used to get and assumed that everyone had them were, in fact, actual crushes. It feels so good to be out and to be comfortable in your own skin. The piece of the puzzle finally fits!
Now, the constant flicking switches on and off and the intrusive thoughts, yes I know that’s difficult and you don’t understand it. But you do now, you know it’s OCD and you have sought help for it. Unfortunately, it’s going to be something that will plague you from time to time, but you have the tools to manage it now. A really wonderful counsellor told you to see your OCD as your friend: it’s trying to distract you from something else going on in your life. It’s a sign that you need to deal with a deeper issue.
Something I love about you is that you are a romantic; don’t worry, we still are. You like to romanticise everything, including life and the future. I know you’re waiting for life to start, for something grand to happen, but baby I’ll let you into a secret: it has already started. You can’t keep waiting, you have to start living! One of the best pieces of life advice you’ll ever receive is to have no expectations of anything because then you’ll never be disappointed.
(Please stop doing those ab exercises on your bedroom carpet. You’re young and your metabolism is fast, they’re really a waste of time.)
Don’t worry, you’ll soon see through the facade and stop being afraid of the F word. Feminism becomes part of your identity, as it should.
There is so much more I could say to you, but you have to fumble through these adolescent years, trying to navigate the world so you can reach me now. You’re always in a constant state of becoming who you need to be. Above all, don’t worry about the future, things work out.