Dear 11 year old me | Jilly Ballantyne

Dear 11 year old me.

Firstly, I want to let you know that you will move past your papa’s death. It’s horrible right now, I know, but things will improve and your family will smile again. Your gran will sometimes tear up when she mentions him, and you’ll have countless nights of staring at the ceiling listening to Thank You For The Music, but it gets better. It does.

You’ll experience grief again, especially when you least expect it. Some losses will make you bitter, some will be all-encompassing, but you’ll learn to live with it. At your age, you can never imagine being able to spend a day not thinking about those you’ve lost, but sometimes you will and that’s okay.

Please don’t care about what people think of you. I know it’s hard, but trust me, one day these people will be liking your Instagram pictures. They aren’t the be-all and end-all. They’re just people. That being said, don’t be surprised that no one will keep in touch from school. You didn’t fit into their dynamic and that’s fine. You don’t have to.

People will forget about what they did to you, how they made you feel, but you won’t. It’ll stick in the back of your mind sometimes and make you doubt whether people truly like you, but they do. And they like you because you’re you, not some polluted version of yourself.

Your writing gets better, much better. You read hundreds of books and educate yourself and get good grades in every exam you take. You’re naturally intelligent - but you need to realise that it will make you lazy later on in life. You’ll feel like you can do the bare minimum and scrape by, and you can, but you’ll add to your stress and it isn’t healthy.

Your mental health gets better and then it gets worse. It’s up and down at the moment, but you’re feeling a lot better about yourself as a person - that’s something you probably never expected me to say. You hate so much about the way you look when in reality, a lot of the things you hate will be the things you grow to love. Your freckles, your smile. Granted, you still feel self-conscious, but it’s a lot rarer than it used to be.

You’ll meet people who will cement your place in the world. They’ll make you laugh and cry, make you question nothing and everything. You’ve spent much of your childhood watching Grey’s Anatomy and you’ve always idolised Christina and Meredith’s friendship. After what feels like an eternity, you too will find your person.

In 2020, there’s going to be a pandemic- you didn’t hear it from me. You’ll be in your twenties and you’ll feel like you have no idea what’s happening to the world and when it’s going to get better. I can’t comment on that now, but you’ll take time to yourself to reflect on your childhood and the way it’s affected you later on in life. It gives you the opportunity to seek help once again for your mental health and it looks like things are going to improve. That’s all that matters.

If there’s anything I wish for you, it’s that you know that the world isn’t truly out to get you. You need to get out and get it.

Signed, 23-year-old me x

Jilly Ballantyne


Instagram: @mynameisjilly

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