A Letter To My 15 Year Old Self

15 year old self

P!nK sang about conversations with her 13-year-old self (from the album I’m not dead). It’s hard to remember exactly what I did and how I felt at 15. I know generally that I was a rebel, unhappy with my lot, and felt trapped and constrained by my age. All my friends outside of school were older. Some had already left school and were working, going out at weekends etc. I wanted to be grown up already, but what I didn’t realise at the time, how emotionally immature I was.

15 year old self

Mental maturity vs emotional maturity

I was very ‘grown up’ for my age, sensible even. I easily fitted in with older groups. They easily accepted me. At 15, I was often doing the things 18-year-olds did. I acted older, I looked older, I WAS older. I was outwardly confident, arrogant even. I was very aware of the consequences of drugs and alcohol. Losing a friend through a combination of drugs and motorcycling opened my eyes as to how quickly we can lose control; it takes the blink of an eye.

I hadn’t the emotional maturity of 18, and now realise how vulnerable I was. Certain people took advantage of that vulnerability. It was my common sense that saved me from certain downfalls. I didn’t understand emotionally what was happening, but had the head sense to distance myself finally, before I was really hurt, or ‘damaged’. Of course, now I know better!

Meeting your younger self

I had an educating experience with a 15-year-old teenager recently and wanted to share the long lasting lessons I learned from this young woman. She was not happy, she felt out of control, and controlled by her experiences.

She is too young to realise the full impact of our interaction. There is always the sense that the adult should be advising the child or adolescent. One morning, with this teen, I attended a real-life university of mutual respect and dialogue, where she spoke of her life, feelings, experiences, and frustrations. I felt I was speaking with my younger self, and was able to share my experiences, and how they affected me. She completely understood my memories of my feelings, as hers were so similar. We had so much in common – shared life experiences and already harsh learnings in matters of the heart and mind at 15.

So what came out of it for me? I wondered how I could help myself? And possibly help her?

A message to my 15-year-old self

Dear Elaine (15)

I understand now that you thought you knew it all, and it was that arrogance that kept you safe. But at 15 you don’t know it all. You only know your own experiences and basic sense of self. You don’t have the emotional maturity to process complicated feelings and the developing aspects of your young self. You don’t have the maturity to deal with certain things that have happened to you too young. But you have the courage and conviction to rise out of that, and learn from your big life experiences so far. Here is my message to you:

  • Accept that you are still a child, teetering in unknown and unstable territory between innocence and maturity
  • Accept that you are legally a minor until you’re 18
  • Stop trying to grow up so fast. Life passes us by quick enough already, and every day is precious
  • Every day will be hard until you decide and realise what it really is that excites you
  • You will know this when you can live in the moment. Accept it for what it is, feel that it is relevant, precious and educating
  • Feel the happiness. Know that happiness comes from within, not from external sources
  • When you laugh, laugh hard. Extend the feeling and note that this is a state of mind and not something that has happened to you
  • You may be a child, but you can be in control of your emotions and feelings. You’re only learning now that you have a completely independent mind. Be open to learning how to use it for your own development
  • You will never reach the IF… and WHEN…
  • Whatever you do not like in your life, you have the power to change it. If you absolutely cannot change it, you can change how you feel about it
  • Everything in life happens for a reason, whether you control it or not. What is most important is the learning you gain
  • There is no such thing as failure. Only learning. You and only you decide how you feel about that learning, and how you deal with it
  • No one can make you feel anything. You decide how you feel about everything that affects you. You are in control
  • By pleasing others, you are giving them your power. Only you can know how to manage that power – it is of no benefit to the other person
  • Keep your power by knowing your own mind, demonstrating assertiveness, being kind to others, letting go of hurt, and forgiving – mostly of yourself
  • Life is an amazing gift that we get to experience for a short time. You get to choose how you experience and manage your life
  • Let go, enjoy yourself, accept kindness, give back
  • Use your senses (see, hear, smell, taste, touch)  to really experience life
  • Don’t just go through your life. Grow with your life. It will reward you to the end.

All my love, forgiveness and appreciation,

Elaine (45)

teen with adult

Some Lyrics from PINK:

“You’re the girl I used to be

The pissed off complicated thirteen year old me

Conversations with my thirteen year old self

Conversations with my thirteen year old self

Until we meet again

Oh I wish you well, Little girl

Until we meet again

Oh I wish you well, Little girl

I wish you well

Until we meet again

My little thirteen year old me”

(images from www.freeimages.com)


2 thoughts on “A Letter To My 15 Year Old Self

  • March 24, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Lovely insightful and thought provoking – thanks Elaine

    • March 24, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Wow, that was quick Liz!
      Thanks so much, it’s tough putting personal experiences out there, but I believe they are always helpful, to someone 🙂

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