You will wake up and you will be in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way. But it is okay. All of it is okay. Appreciating the day they’re about to give you is okay too even though the two of you will leave each other bruised and you will never trust anyone again quite as much.
23 will be scary for you and lonely in the loneliest way possible. It’s not that you won’t be surrounded by love because you will. Copious amounts of love in fact. The kind of love that will make you cry and humble you and slowly but painfully make you whole again. But it is the kind of love that will make you feel alone and confused because it’s the kind of love that begs you stop self destructing and see what you’re really made of. It will beg you to be real and stop your delusions of how you wish things were and make you appreciate how things are.
I can guarantee you that you will be strong though. Stronger than you ever believed you would be able to be. You will look at yourself in the mirror and see things you wish you could change and you will think of ways to numb the pain. You will stare at that sharp metallic razor for hours. Watching it with anticipation. But you will not touch it. You will find the strength not to leave marks on your body that aim to purge away everything you feel inside.
One day, everything will seem too much though. You will feel like nothing matters anymore. That it is okay if you let the bad guys win because you’re tired of trying so hard to be loved by people who don’t see your worth. You will lie in bed and say goodbye to your friends on a flashing screen and wonder what to write to your parents so that know it isn’t their fault that things turned out the way they did. Later on, you will not remember the exact date this happened but you will remember who picked up their phone when you needed it most – even though you currently feel as though this person is drifting away. Later on, you will look back and realise that this moment laid the foundation for everything that came afterwards.
If there is one thing I wish you could have known at right at the beginning, it’s that bad things happen to good people. Bad things will happen to you. You will fail and stumble and fall down. You will feel like you are gasping for air at times, hoping that you don’t sink. But you will come out of it knowing that you are good and you are capable and you are worth more than you have been given.
There will be a period of time when you block everyone out. You will sit in front of the TV for hours with your hands locked under your thighs because you’re too scared that you will need someone else’s validation to make yourself feel better, and more scared that you won’t get it. You will fall asleep reading books and watching movies, surrounding yourself with fictional characters that work purely to entertain you and keep you happy.
But, my God, will you be happy once you let your heart find its way. You love everything and everyone around you in the biggest way possible. You will fall in love with old friends, with their loyalty and the fierceness with which they protect you. You will fall in love with the way they have seen you at your highest and lowest points but never changed their opinion of who you are. You will fall in love with new friends, who will surprise you with their kindness and make you believe in innate human goodness all over again. You will love so much that it overwhelms you that so much beauty could exist inside you. And you will feel so loved at times that it will feel almost transcendental, a kind of light touching your soul.
Above all, at 23, you will start to see yourself for who you are. Stripped down to the core – both good and bad. It will scare you in the biggest way possible. But it will also force you to stop and see the scared girl you always felt you were becoming the woman you never thought you could be.