Dear one-year-ago me,
Happy birthday. Today, you turn 16.
Today, you have been looking around a gorgeous fairy-tale castle, nestled in the mountains of Austria. Today you made friends with the people from the next table. Today you were spoilt with cake and balloons and special treatment at dinner in the hotel.
Today has been wonderful.
And here I am, one year later. Lying in bed on the morning of my 17th birthday.
Today, I am in Brighton. Today, I will spend the day wandering around the city and along the pier with my mum. Today I will be treated to a lovely lunch, just the two of us. Today, I will spend my evening at a fish and chips and skittles (the game) event with all the people from the croquet tournament my dad is playing in – the reason I’m down here.
In the process of you becoming me, so incredibly much has changed. So much that has changed you has occurred, and it is safe to say that you and I are not the same.
I won’t say what the things themselves are, because they aren’t the important bit. The important bit is the legacy they left – their impact on my life, and the impact they will leave on yours. How they have changed me, and how they will change you. As I said – you and I are not the same.
When you’re me, you are more secure – that’s to say, less insecure. Less concerned about your appearance and your image and what people make of it. You don’t mind so much what people think of you, especially if it relates to how you look.
And yet you are simultaneously much more concerned about the image you put across. You have become aware of the messages your actions send, and are more conscious in trying to only send a message you are happy to be sending. You know what you want people to think of you, and are trying to be that person.
When you are me, you are healthier. So much healthier, and more stable in your pain levels and reliable in your pain management. Although, the chronic pain is still here.
You are more independent. Your time is yours, and you do with it what you please – and what you please is good and positive (most of the time).
You are more confident, and sure of yourself, and while there is so much left to discover about the way your own mind – my mind – works, you aren’t afraid of that anymore.
You have a clearer vision for your future. More solid goals and ambitions and aims.
You have widened the realm of emotions you feel and emotions you are comfortable feeling. You understand better your own feelings and thoughts, and while you don’t always like them, you can almost explain them – some of the time.
You are more creative, and confident in your creativity. You have developed a more coherent style and a variety of creativity that is all your own.
And nowadays, you are more fragile. You have been through enough that seemingly little things can break you (mentally and physically) for days at a time.
You are less certain of your identity – you know who you are, and you know how to portray who you are, and you know who you want to be, and how to get there – but there is something, something you haven’t figured out and which you need to. Because right now, you have very little idea of who you are.
You are, I think, less able to rely on your emotions – but that ties in with your frailty. They jump around and do stupid things and get in the way and make you sad when you don’t want to be sad. They are no longer indicative of your active, genuine thoughts.
And unfortunately, you are now also, on average, less happy. By the time you become me, your default mood will not be as positive as it is for you now.
But I don’t think that’s something to be ashamed of, or to worry about. You, as you are right now, are a very happy person. You are happy and oblivious and unambitious, and you have very little ‘happy’ left to explore, so it make sense that you have to begin to fall.
And I am not unhappy – not all of the time. But I have explored my mind and the world a little more and I have found more to be unhappy about. More to want to fix, and discover, and change, and learn about.
And, yes, bad things have happened that have made me unhappy, and have permanently depleted my happy-o-meter, but I’m not entirely sure if they’ll still be there a few months from now. Of course, the impact they have left is now ingrained in my very being, but I’m sure – I hope – that the events themselves will fade into mere memory, their freshness and hurt will fall away and they will be like shells, the scar of the bullet still there, but the object itself far removed.
As I’ve said – you and I are not the same. The difference? A year, and all that it can be expected to bring.
Happy birthday, 16-year-old-me. Enjoy it, because from here – everything begins to change.
So, here’s to my day being as good as yours, and the next year being as fruitful as the last one.
As always, with love,
(I wrote and had this ready to post yesterday – both the day it was due, and my actual birthday. Sorry for lateness, but I do think having a birthday is at least a vaguely valid excuse.)