Dearest 13-year old Tanya,

Soon we turn 30, and I hope this letter will help you to see how far we have come.

You have just started Year 8. You turn 13 a month into this academic year. You are tall and slim and adults think you are older than you are, even though you are just a child. You have probably already had some of the girls’ school friendship dramas.

Have you sat on the school bus yet, freezing from having bottles of cold water tipped all over you without your consent? Have you had your ‘best friend’ turn on you yet, in the blink of an eye, and spread rumours about you? Have you had the letter from the Home Office yet, telling your family to leave the country within a month and go back to a homeland that has never been yours? Have you spent the day after this letter silent yet, mute from the confusion of what it all meant? The first of many mute days to come over the following few years. Have the regular arguments at home begun yet? Have you become isolated yet, or are you still hopeful?

I know you are confused about your parents right now. One moment they dote on you and the next they look at you as though you are the devil incarnate. But they are doing the best they can. They have their own pain and sadness trapped deep within them, causing them to act as they do. I promise you, your relationship with them is transformed over the years. You enjoy your time with them and they relish their time with you. Those toxic friendships you previously engaged in are a thing of the past. No longer do you mould yourself to anothers’ will. You have found people who love you as you are and are there no matter what. What about a boyfriend, I hear you ask… You have found the sweetest, kindest, silliest boy and you love him deeply and truly. Your time together is filled with laughter and nonsense and deep chats about the world and existence and humanity.

And guess what my love… You even wear a bikini on occasion! Yes, there are still things to be worked on. You could love and embrace this Earth-suit more. But my girl, you wear a bikini!

Above all, you spend time with yourself and enjoy it. No longer is it in that lonely way where you built up impenetrable walls and sat within those. You spend time with yourself in a loving, connected way. You are embracing your creativity and intelligence, no longer shunning these traits and denying them for fear of seeming prideful. You have dreams too, you have ambitions. You are excited for the future, whilst embracing the joys of today.

I am so proud of you and grateful that you held on like you did. You did your absolute best and if it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be here today. Thank you for showing up to life and putting one foot in front of the other, even when there didn’t seem a point in doing so. Thank you for doing everything you did, even those things that you are ashamed of, as these experiences brought us to this moment in time.

Simply, thank you sweet child for being you. Keep your chin up, it gets so much better. And if all these changes can take place in 17 years, just imagine where we’ll be in another 17!

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