A letter to the younger Harriot
You won't believe it now, but when you're older you'll look back on photos of you now and actually realise you weren't as fat, or ugly or spotty as you think you are right now. You'll realise that the people who made you feel like you were are cruel, and the problem is with them and not with you. You'll learn to give less fucks, I won't tell you to try to stop caring what people think because I know that for 14 year old me that is nigh on impossible, I'll just let you know that one day it will be possible, and you'll kick yourself for not doing it sooner. You will realise that all the pain, the trips to the bathroom to throw up, avoiding mirrors, the constant self-criticism, the tears, the screaming, always feeling on edge - it is never going to make you happy. You think you'll finally reach a place where it'll all suddenly be fine but it won't be, it can't be, unless you change. And not changing who you are, or your body, but by changing the way you think about yourself.
Don't give up drama or singing, I know you think you're not good enough, but trust me as soon as you give it up you will regret it, you'll always wonder what could've happened. You don't have to want to sing professionally, or act professionally to enjoy it and to know you can do it. You just need that little push, fake some confidence and put yourself out there.
Spend more time with your Nan, and with Grandpa, you will regret it a lot when you no longer have the chance. Stop focusing on what they think of you, or if you're making them proud just focus on your time together and asking as many questions as you can, make memories with them.
Don't blame your mum for not making school concerts or plays, you'll realise when you get older how much she hates that she missed them, and how out of her control it was. You'll admire how she managed to bring you up when she lives in such enormous amounts of pain everyday, how she still put you first and made time to listen. She couldn't do everything that other mums could but she's had your back since she first knew you existed, and she always will. Tell her how much you love her and appreciate her. You might not have had a childhood like everyone else, but don't feel sorry for yourself, you learnt things from it that no-one else your age did, and it shaped you to be independent and strong and kind.
Your family can be pretty emotionally closed, they don't mean to be. Sure they can blow steam like a hot kettle when they're angry or upset but they can't talk about their emotions. Sometimes when you talk about love, or tell them how much you appreciate them they'll call you soppy and cringe. Don't let it stop you. Wear your heart on your sleeve, and never feel embarrassed to say or show how you're feeling. Tell the people you love that you love them. Be soppy. Be as soppy as you possibly can be.
Don't waste your time on the wrongs boys, the boys who play you like a game, the boys who keep you up at night crying, the boys who make you lock your door. One day his smell will no longer linger on your skin, one day you will no longer search for happiness in his eyes, or hear his laugh in your dreams. One day you will meet a man who will treat you as his equal, who will open up your mind and explore it with you, he will hold you in his arms at night and you will feel so at home you want to share everything with him. He will leave, and so will you, and you will be devastated but you will know what love is supposed to feel like, and somehow you find a way to come back together. He gives you his time and his patience and his sense of adventure. You manage to complete each other and you start to begin to believe in soulmates.
You're like a moth to a flame with love, except instead of flying headfirst into it you run away when it starts to get serious. You self-sabotage every relationship. You're so afraid of being alone, but you're so afraid of being tied down. You want freedom but you want to feel safe and loved too. Sometimes it feels like you'll never find both. You will, but it's hard and you have to compromise and you will get jealous, that's just who you are but you keep working on it. You still feel like running away sometimes, and old habits creep back, and honestly you're still so insecure it feels easier to run before it gets taken from you but you need to know you're worthy. You are so worthy. Stop putting yourself down. Let yourself be vulnerable, it doesn't make you weak.
Don't give up on your dreams, or goals. You're going to have a rough few years and it will feel like you have no future at all. But you come out the other end, so please keep going. Things are going to get better and you will find your purpose again. You'll regain your fiery little spirit and start to feel proud of yourself again, so don't lose hope. Life doesn't go to plan but it's exactly that that makes life worth living. You will find yourself in the strangest places with the strangest people but that is what will excite your spirit. You have a plan right now, laid out with goals and deadlines, and don't get me wrong you still love to have goals to work towards and ambitions but you learn not to stick too closely to the path. Isn't there a saying that life is what happens when you're making other plans? It's so true. You have this idea in your head that you have to go straight to uni, and graduate and get a good job and you become so focused on being this 'ideal' of yourself that you don't even realise how unhappy you are.
Things that you can only imagine right now actually happen to you. You live in Paris, you have an apartment 10 minutes from the Eiffel Tower, you buy croissants every Sunday morning, you are on a first name basis with the cashier, you go for after work drinks in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you drink red wine out the bottle by the Seine, you go swimming in the Seine, you meet the most amazing people, you go to Sunday exhibitions at Georges Pompidou and spend Saturday nights at Wanderlust. It becomes normal and you forget how crazy it is that if you'd stayed on that path that you thought was the be all and end all you'd never have gotten to experience all of this. You'll go back to uni and it will be incredible, you will meet the best people and find that you've found your passions in your course. This time it will be the right time.
Stop being so scared of everything. You prove time and time again that you can do it. That you are capable. Everyone else sees it and you need to see it too. Do the terrifying shit, jump headfirst into it. Don't not do something just because you're afraid of what people will think or because you think you might fail. Regret feels 1000 times worse. Just bloody do it already.
You didn't fail because you dropped out of uni. You didn't fail because you had depression. You didn't fail because of your anxiety. You did not fail. You will only fail when you stop getting back up. And you get up every time. You are so loved and you have so much to give. So don't give up.
Define yourself, brave girl. Go and define yourself.