This year has gone so fast. Reading this letter was different to previous years. It was different because I didn’t feel that pang of sadness for my past self. It was also different because it felt like more of a mixed bag in terms of what has changed since then. I think I reached a point of two steps forwards, one step backwards, progress is slower, but it’s still heading in the right direction. I’m so grateful to past me for the ego boost!
You are simply magnificent. I read the letter from 22-year-old us with a mixture of amusement and sadness. Year on year I have grown. I have won more ground from the tangles of depression and anxiety. Year on year, everything changes. To my past self, no, we never reached 6st. It matters, but less than it did. Yes I still struggle with food, but for the time being it is like a tape constantly playing in the background. Shrink, be small, exercise more, eat less. It’s still there, but it’s quieter. It’s quieter because I don’t want to disappear. I want to be here. I want to be present, I want to be seen, I want to matter. I did get a first in all of the modules I completed. A year ago I was so determined to drag myself through that biochemistry degree. I am still studying. But a different subject at a different university. Over the summer, I decided to drop out. Partly it was the stress of exams, partly it was the thought of surviving another year in Birmingham. Partly it was trying to infer feelings from actions because so often I feel ambivalent towards things, or I think I do. I couldn’t focus on my work. I self-sabotaged. I wasn’t interested. From that I concluded that I was doing the wrong thing in the wrong place. After a brief spell as a laboratory technician, I decided I wanted to be a nurse. So here I am, six months on from dropping out of university, a student nurse at Oxford Brookes.
My future self, I am so near the beginning right now, but you will be at the beginning of the second year. I hope you are still there. Stick with it. I know placements might be rough. I know it might take a while to settle in. I know you will doubt yourself. I believe in us. Right now, there is nothing I would rather be doing. I feel like I have found friends already in Dorrie and Louise. There are so many potential friendships waiting to be made. I feel like I have finally found my people. I have so much hope. In plunging into the unknown, in following a whim, I am embracing the person I want to be. The person I sincerely hope you have become. I want to help people. Isn’t that what the library of compassion was all about? Wasn’t it a hint that all my stories focused on the human factor, the interplay of emotions, rather than the big, fantastical things? I am a scientist. One day, once I am qualified, I will finish my biochemistry degree. I have until 2032. No hurry. When you read this, I want you to smile, oh wise older Robin. I want you to smile and tell me you have stuck with it, that you are doing well. That you coped with the difficult times. That finally, you have given up giving up.
I have my Jado Green Belt. I missed one grading because getting used to sparring took a while. The head guard is sweaty. It was new. I felt uncertain and awkward. I am still awkward, but less uncertain. I can take a deep breath and at least try. It’s still not my favourite part of Jado, but I think once I’ve had more practice it might be. I don’t think I have ever seen Mark more proud of me than when I came out of my Green Belt grading having sparred for the first time in a grading. With a bit of luck, you’ll have just done your Brown Belt grading. Wow. It’s been hard to practice at home these last few months, but I will get back into it.
So much has happened over the last year. I have come alive. I hope that has continued, I hope you are more alive and that you’re somewhere closer to finding Luna. Binging is still an issue, less of an issue, but it’s there. I eat when I’m stressed, I stress because I’ve eaten. I am working on it, I want to be fit and healthy, it’s a step in the right direction. I hope you’ve made some progress on that path. I hope you’re vegan (or at least vegan with the exception of family meals) and that you’ve done at least one round of BBG. I am going to embark on it this week, so I hope next year finds you smiling at an achievement, not biting your lip at another let down.
I am a little late this year and writing the day after Valentines day. Other than Arlo and Ayla, my closest friends are all in relationships. I suppose it’s understandable to feel lonely. I miss the closeness Penny and I had over the summer. I hope you have managed to re-establish that and that some of your new friendships have started to mature. I hope you’ve made contact with Willow. I hope you have found friends you consider close, I hope you feel a real connection with people. It isn’t too late. It’s never too late. Mum and Nik were in their twenties. Linda and Narnie were in their 60s. If you fall in love, let it happen. If it doesn’t happen, friendship is what matters most. I want a queerplatonic partner. I’m not holding my breath, but if you have one I think it would be a keystone in how much you’ve grown.
To my past self, I love you. You were so brave and so strong. You took wrong turns and backtracked and you grew so much. I wouldn’t be here without you and I am so, so grateful.
To my future self, here’s to you. I believe in you. I trust that you exist. I want this year to be about Finding Luna. I hope that you have found them. I hope that you have got better at juggling time.