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Dear me in five years - response

I turn 23 in a couple of weeks. I know what you’re thinking “ok? and?”... which is completely fair.


23 is a bit of an “ok, and?” year. I can’t say I’m thrilled or really anything more than a feeling above passive. But what I am excited about is that five years ago, 17 year old Rhiannon wrote a letter to her 22 (almost 23 in a couple of weeks) year old self. 


And now I get to read it and respond. 


When I wrote the letter I considered it a creative writing exercise, something I was unlikely to follow through in responding to in five years time. It seemed unrealistic to presume I would still have this blog (although I had hoped) and so the exercise was a bit of a test for myself. 


A call into the abyss of 'are you still there'? 


Turns out I am. 


So, hello 17 year old Rhiannon. Let’s see what you have to say. 




If my maths is correct you're now less than a month off of being 23. Congratulations! If all went according to plan you've finished your degree now and you're out in the field putting it to use.


Your math is correct (clever thing) and I am now officially less than a month away from 23. In December last year I became a graduate. Although, not in the degree you were thinking. I know at 17 you had jusssssttt started your electrical engineering degree but it turns out you dropped that for arts and business. As far as “putting it to good use" goes you’re employed... but the degree didn’t really change anything. What you have instead is the success of completing it.

I just have a few questions, if you've got the time, that I'd be curious to know the answers to...

Have you started thinking about marriage, kids maybe? Where are you living now? Are you happy with how things turned out?

Starting with the easy questions I see. You and I both know at 17 you were writing this with the deep rooted desire that at 23 you’d be moments from the aisle. Sadly, you had a couple of heart aches ahead of you yet.

I am in a way though. It feels almost like a superstition to write this down but I am very much in love. I believe he is the man I will marry but we’re in no rush. As for kids. It’ll happen when it happens. For now, I’m basking in the bliss of love and appreciating the moments I have for what they are. Trying desperately hard not to rush to the next signpost. I am happy with where I am. Would I choose the exact same path again? Perhaps not. But it got me here and I can’t fault it for that.

As to where I'm living, we're still in Canberra. Don't hate me! I know you thought we'd be outta this town at the first chance but it might actually be growing on me. Oh! And we bought an apartment!

Have you learnt how to braid hair yet?

No. Maybe one day. Maybe never, I haven't needed the skill yet.

Did you end up publishing that book? The one I've been putting off for over a year? I hope you did... and I hope you're really proud of how it turned out.

No I have not yet published a book of any kind much less the one you were writing. It’s saved on a hard drive ready to be cracked open when the moment is right but it hasn’t happened yet. I did write over half of another book though. We did a course, we lost track of time, we got busy. I’m proud of some other achievements of mine that I got done in the time between. I know that I’ll get there one day but I don’t feel bad not being there yet.

Did you finally get over caring so much about what others think? Have you learnt to stand up for yourself when somethings happening that you don't agree with?

I care a little less each day. If I compare my perspective to what it was at 17 you could say it’s shifted dramatically but deep down I still hold a small desperation for acceptance. I have learnt that I can’t influence someone else’s perception of me, it’s out of my control. That was a freeing concept and one I think you could’ve benefited greatly from.

Are you still a little bit scared of the dark?

Yes, just a touch.

Did you end up needing to change a tyre?

Again, this feels superstitious to write but no, I still haven't changed a tyre. I've thought about it once or twice and considered the fact that its bound to happen at some point but it hasn't happened yet. Touch wood.

Do you miss me... the person you were at 17?

If you could go back and talk to me what would be the first thing you say?

What advice would you give me? Are you proud of the way you acted, treated others and lived day in and day out? Am I the person you'd be happy to tell your grand-kids about?

Yes and no... I miss being young enough that I didn't really have any responsibilities. I could've spent longer trying to figure myself out, could've lived in the moment more and tried to just enjoy it. But I also know that's not the person I was at 17.

I don't miss being as anxious as I was then, the constant fear of everything, from people to the never ending existential crisis of my potential future.

If I could go back I would tell you to drop the degree sooner, dump the boyfriend and go travel. You will never be 17 again. I'd probably tell you to suck it up and move back home, save some money and then strike out on your own, but I know you wouldn't listen. We've always had a knack for needing to experience the bad instead of heeding another's advice.

I am still proud of the person I was though, these last five years. I would be proud to tell my grand-kids about who I was then, I knew I was flawed and imperfect, which I think is better than being naïve and vacuous. You did the best with what you had and I'm proud of you for that.

What did it feel like to graduate? Did you get to throw your hat? Were you able to find it again?

Did you make the most of university?

There was no hat throwing. American movies lies to you. But it felt right, there was a true sense of contentment about that moment, surrounded by family knowing I did it. I stuck it out. We finished something we set out to achieve. That feeling was better than anything else I've felt, that realisation that everything was where it was meant to be.

Did you keep this blog running...?


Do you still write?

Sometimes, not enough as I used to. I want to get back to it.

And finally...

Have you learnt to love yourself?

I know that one's going to take some time but I think I'm ready to start now. I just want some sort of confirmation that I will, you know?

We learnt to love ourselves slowly, piece by piece, lesson by lesson. But I do. I remember how I felt about myself at 17 and it makes me want to reach out at hug myself. You've only got one life, one body, one chance at making the most of every moment. I always had me, if I could go back in time it would be to reassure you that you find that inner love, it doesn't come from a man, or an achievement or someone telling you they're proud of you. It comes from inside.

The world can be a terrifying and terrible place and sometimes I find myself feeling lost thinking about the length of the road ahead.

But I'm so good at thinking, hence this letter to you.

I'm so curious about the person you are today. I want to know how different you are to me, how much I changed or didn't change, if you're what I hope you will be.

You and I both know so much can happen in five years. There's such a large pool of 'unknowns' and it's kind of scary to think about.

And I know I'm supposed to let the pieces fall where they may but a part of me just wants to plan my path, every step, every crack. I need to know where I'm heading and that the road I walk is stable.

That's the problem though, in writing this I've realised I can't plan my future anymore than anyone else can. I can't ensure that anything happens. I just have to let what happens happen and hope that you find this in five years and can answer my questions.

Just ah... don't be living in a dump. Please.

Amen to that. The pieces fell where they fell. Where we are now is not even close to where we had planned to be, but we're happy. It's all going to be ok. We're still a bit scared of the unknown but its more out of excitement now than fear. Who knows what might happen! But I'm making the most of enjoying the ride.

Till next time,

Rhi xx


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