We were girls with loud voices, notoriously resented by the staff of our school for being outspoken and difficult to tame, as a year group. We were creative, wild and a bundle of loose canons set to explode into adulthood. Yet, these same girls, myself included, were unsure of ourselves, anxious and self-conscious in the extreme.
Yet, somewhere not-so-deep down, I have had a shame about the content I produce, the words I write. I let others decide what my words are worth in my mind and deny them the ability to declare them useless by not sharing what I work on, what I value most. After all, if the critics can't find your work, then you're safe, right? All in all, it's a tremendously stupid system.
At first, I was unsure what it was about this statement that truly struck me as unique and thought-provoking. Then I realised that if we all were to believe that we were at the exact right time in the world, then we would live our lives led by our potential, rather than our detriments.
There are certain things that I will always find soothing. Having my hair stroked or a hug from my mom after a hard day, those are in my very DNA. In order to cultivate an environment that feels safe, I have included some of these childhood soothers back into my life.
Yet here is what I can do; I can remind them that they are magic to every life they touch. This is a shout of love into the void of pain, reminding you, my beloved friend, that to feel alone is but an illusion. You will never stand alone, you always have me. I will be your fortitude, your crutch and your cheerleader whenever the need arises. I cannot solve your problems, but I will ensure that you do not face them alone.
‘You are meaner than your demons, colder than your pain and braver than your last thought.’
I understand something I didn’t as a teenager. We can be on anti-depressants or in therapy and still experience moments so sharply brilliant that we laugh until our chests hurt. We can fret over living with our parents until our thirties and still receive a hug from a friend that is filled with such love that life is, momentarily, fixed and whole once more.
To my playschool kindred spirit whom I will never do the disservice of forgetting. To my primary school best friend who indulged all of my creative whims with a beautiful, open mind. To my secondary school brother-in-arms who gave me permission to present as exactly myself each day without exception. To my university soul sister, who breathes glitter and electric love to this day. To the friends of old, who’s imprints do not fade.
As a child, I was always one to feel guilt quickly and regret often. My mother uttered; 'Just let it go, Jen' more times than I can remember. Now, with a somewhat genetic complex for guilt and anxiety, I have noticed the toll that 'cancel culture' and social media is having on my own mind.
I don't remember the first time I thought that I would die from this sickness. But I do remember the first time I hoped I would.