I know this is a really old topic, one I’ve seen floating around the internet for a few years, but I thought I’d give it a go, in spite of being only 22. I mean, I have quite a lot to say to my teen self, specifically my 14-year-old self, who struggled with some tough anxiety issues back when she was in the eighth grade. So here goes:
Dear 14-year-old me,
That algebra test looks really daunting, doesn’t it? Algebra’s been the cause of many a panic attack and crying spell at night. Math anxiety has leaked over into other parts of your life too. You cut to deal with the constant stress. You hated that your math teacher couldn’t understand that you needed to take things more slowly.
But guess what? You passed algebra…with an A average. Algebra was so easy from then on out. You managed your anxiety disorder. You went on to do pre-calculus, which was tougher, should have been anxiety inducing, but you stuck it out and got a B.
But let’s back up. You know that book you started in response to your mild depression and anxiety, the book with the witches and witch burnings? Well, it has changed…immensely. It is now a sequel. And guess what? It’s prequel has a publishing contract, so, even though it takes eight years, you make it. Your dream comes true. And you did it without an agent, the way you originally wanted to do it.
But, 14-year-old-self, things get tougher, worse than your anxiety disorder. You develop fibromyalgia at 21, a disease that came out of nowhere. Fibromyalgia starts to crap out other areas of your life: your sleep, mainly. And from this, you develop bipolar disorder, which manages to make things far more challenging than your anxiety disorder ever could have. But you’re going to survive, and you’re going to come out of it even greater, stronger, wiser, and better. You were born into greatness, and to greatness you will return.
You may not think you want to keep going because of the adage ‘the older you get, the tougher it gets,’ but this isn’t always true. There are going to be parts of your life that are tougher than others. But then there are going to be parts of your life that are greater than others .
You’ve always obsessed over Mr. Right. Well, you meet him three years later, and you’ll be with him for quite a long while. That’s certainly fantastic, right? You have your first short story published at 19. Sounds like it’s getting pretty good. You also start some editorial stints, and you dreamt of being an editor. How can it get better than that?
And even though fibromyalgia and bipolar will come to try and tear you down, to tell you nothing in your life is worth it, you will fight, and you will do a ballet recital and take a chance with your novel. You will land a contract and start another novel.
14-year-old-self, life is full of difficulties, but do you know why we keep going? We keep going because something in us tells us after the storm has passed, the sun will shine brighter than ever. And even when the storm comes again, we’ll just dance in the rain. We’ll be cold and soaked to the bone, but we’ll dance until the sun shines again.
22-year-old The Dancing Writer