Contributed by Lee Kelleher
Dear younger self,
I wanted to take some time out to speak to you. I’ve got quite a bit to say, so I hope you’re ready to listen, wherever you may be. It’s now 2021 and you’re currently sitting in a national lockdown, in fact it’s your 3rd one in the last year. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Basically, a respiratory virus has spread around the world, and the people who run the country are pretty incompetent at their jobs to say the least, so as the virus found its way to the UK, these ‘leaders’ have completely mishandled the situation and now we all have to stay indoors. That last part may actually sound pretty sweet to you. No school right? Cartoon Network all day? Result. Let me tell you, it’s far from. I hate to break it to you, but without doubt 2020 was the worst year of your life. And unfortunately for many others too.
I’ll get back to that, but first let’s just talk. You’ve battled a lot - weight issues and a lack of self confidence being just two of many things you’ve been dealing with from a young age, and I know it’s tough. It doesn’t get much easier. You discover the gym eventually which is great, but you also develop an eating disorder. You know when you used to go to Nan’s house after school, she’d make you dinner, then you’d go home and tell Mum you hadn’t eaten yet? And when you used to sneak snacks when Mum and Dad weren’t looking? I know it didn’t seem like much, just rascal behaviour really, but it had its consequences.
Being the fat kid in an all boys school was rough. Remember that time back in Year 7 where you had to change your PE top in the sports hall in front of everyone. Man, that was painful. The pointing, laughing, it got to you. Then all of a sudden you basically refused to eat. You came back after the summer holidays on the first day of Year 8 looking all skinny with your new blazer. Everyone was shocked. Little did you know this was probably the start of your journey to the eating disorder that will haunt you for years. By the end of Year 11 you was fat again, of course. You’re working on it though, I promise.
You’ve always had so much potential. It’s ridiculous. But you never apply yourself. You merely scrape by doing the bare minimum. Why is that? You were always predicted top grades in school, but you never actually achieved them. You let the wrong things consume your time. That sums you up really. All the potential, none of the application. Like, are you scared of what you might actually be able to achieve if you put the work in, or are you just that lazy? Are you okay with constantly doing the bare minimum to scrape by? When you put your mind to it, it’s actually scary what you can achieve, so if there’s one thing you take from this letter, whatever age you may be reading at – please just know that I’m begging you to apply yourself. Work harder.
You doubt yourself so much, like, all the time. You’re forever convincing yourself you’re not good enough, that there’s someone better out there, that you can’t compete. You’re trying to do better, in truth your only real competition is you, but somehow you keep losing. Life is strange man. You know how I said you discover the gym? It’s a sweet place, it really is your therapy. You now work in fitness funnily enough. You’re a Personal Trainer these days. Well, kinda. You’re still trying to figure out what you really want to do. At this point in time you honestly have no idea, but that’s ok. You’re not Finnish, you’re 28 (you’ll get that joke one day, I promise).
The gym helps you mentally, but deep down your confidence and self belief is still shattered. You don’t develop feelings for someone often, but on the rare occasion you do, it’s never mutual—pretty painful. It is what it is, but it won’t help you feel much better about yourself. Maybe they can see all your insecurities, I dunno. If you don’t see the value in yourself, why would they? You’re also still pretty terrible at talking to women you have feelings for, so I’m sorry you haven’t improved on that either.
If it surprises you to hear that at 28 years of age you still put yourself down on a daily basis, I’m sorry. It’s a rough world out there, and you’ve let it, along with yourself, defeat you too many times. I know you’re a good person, you pride yourself on being nice to people. It’s how you were raised. It’s nice to be nice. Maybe you should try to be nicer to yourself. Try not to put yourself down so much.
I’ll take you back to lockdown and 2020 being the worst year of your life. The gym was taken away which led to a downward spiral really. Like I said, exercising in the gym is your therapy and you no longer had that accessible. As you’ve got older you’ve developed a very all or nothing attitude. With gym, and subsequently work taken away, it became very much nothing. No desire, no determination, no motivation, no application, no self-worth. Nothing. The first thing you did was order pizza, and that pretty much set the tone for the next 5 months or so and beyond. Weight piled back on, exercise was minimal, contact with people was pretty non existent and you didn’t really spend much time with Mum or Denise—you just wanted to be alone. By yourself. Wallowing in your self pity.
After being brought home as a little newborn puppy when you were 15, Star unfortunately passed away after 13 years with you. That hurt a lot man. She was a central part of our family and the house hasn’t been the same since. I’m sorry to have to tell you that. A lot of things that could have went wrong in 2020, pretty much did. Financially, your career, your general day-to-day life and well-being, everything just seemed to fall apart little bit by little bit. I mean, you’ve been dealing with issues for years but it just felt like everything had all just become a bit too much. You broke.
This brings me to something else I wanted to talk to you about. Try to open up more in the future. I know it’s tough, and it’s something you don’t do. It took you 28 years to open up to anyone about anything. You’ve always been that guy who doesn’t really take anything that serious, always the one to make a laugh and a joke about anything, making things seem like all is ok, but deep down no one knows there’s stuff that’s been tearing you down, day by day. You feel like it’s best to just keep it all bottled up, and you don’t want to burden anyone with your problems, but trust me it gets to a point where it’s unbearable. It eats you up and you just need someone to speak to. It felt weird opening up, you’re not used to it, even with friends you’re very comfortable being around. Don’t be ashamed to hear that the tears started to flow as you opened up, I think it showed just how much you had kept bottled up and how many demons you were, and are still battling.
I wish I could tell you that you’ve managed to pull yourself out of this slump, but you haven’t. Not yet anyway. I am pleased to tell you you’re doing better though, there’s a lot you’re trying to work on and you’re in a better place than you were just a few months ago. You’re lucky enough to have some good people around you, which helps. You still have many things to be thankful for—you have your health and your family. They are the two most important things in the world. Cherish them.
Anyway, I know we touched on a lot of stuff, and there’s some home truths in there that needed to be said about the person you become, but I hope you can take it all on board and that it can benefit you in the long run.
Older (but still young) Lee