"No one is going to walk down the streets of your council estate and see your inner brilliance, and whisk you away. Don’t worry, you’ll save yourself."
Alex Keelan gives herself some life lessons in a letter to her younger self, and in doing so teaches the rest of us some things, too. A funny, human and uplifting piece about finding your own way.
Alex Keelan is a Manchester based writer and poet, she graduated from Salford University with an MA in Television and Radio Script Writing in 2007. Alex’s theatre work includes, The Loves of Others (Winner of Best Comedy award at Greater Manchester Fringe 2017 and a Manchester Theatre Award) and Angel of the House (Wonder Women Festival, Hope Mill Theatre 2016 & 2017). Alex’s work has been performed on BBC Radio4 digital 2014 and at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012, she is currently developing a pilot for TV. You can find out more about her poetry here: www.itslikepoetry.blogspot.com
Letter to my 14 year old self.
Remember when you were 11 and your friend told you what a blow job was? You didn’t believe her, you said it was ridiculous and no one would ever do that, you said, ‘someone’s having you on'. At 14 you feel so far away from that 11 year old girl, so far away from yourself. Grief, pain, shame and alcohol have driven you to your knees and it sucks, literally. Don’t worry, you’ll find out sex isn’t a one sided conversation, like all communication you’ll find your voice and your first words will be, not like that!
You’re not fat! You’ll waste too much of your precious time worrying about being fat, you’ll waste even more of your precious time when you’re older, being pissed off at how much of your precious time you wasted worrying about being fat. Time you could have spent doing things that filled your heart with joy. It’s not your fault, it’s partly due to the cocky boy you go out with in high school, the mean one with impotency problems, that he blames on you and your body, it is not you or your body. Be grateful for him, one December day, at school, giddy about christmas, you’ll have tinsel wrapped around your pony tail, he’ll order you to take it out and tell you you look a stupid fucking bitch. You’ll keep it in all day at school, but, later, that night, you’ll meet up with him at the park, with your hair down, he’ll swagger over, kiss you, and tell you, 'that’s better'. This will frighten you, how it makes you feel will frighten you. The way this boy reminds you of your violent step father will frighten you, it’ll make you see how easy it is to be intoxicated by control. Not long after this, he will dump you, again, this time you won’t go back. This will drive him crazy, he will tell the other boys at school to spit at you, he will write horrible things about your body on the school blackboard, he will be so mean you won’t go out with anyone else for 3 years, and you’ll have the time of your fucking life. You’ll dance, you’ll drink, you’ll wear whatever you like and speak to who ever you like. Some men in your seaside home town won’t like it, they’ll call you a bitch, a slag, a dyke a whore. When a guy in Oz nightclub tells you it’s because you act like you’re God, it isn’t, carry on dancing. Don’t go home in a taxi crying because he doesn’t know what it has taken for you to feel this free.
I’m sorry to say, no one is going to rescue you, no one is going to discover you, no one is going to walk down the streets of your council estate and see your inner brilliance, and whisk you away, it doesn’t work like that. Don’t worry, you’ll save yourself, it takes longer but it will feel so good. You will take the risks, do the scary shit and be brave, that’s how it works, for nearly everyone.
Believe it or not, you’ll be a youth worker, for a short while, and you’ll stand in front of a group of 13 year old girls that think female masturbation is sick and fucking disgusting, you;ll stand in front of them, with your toes curling, you’ll stand in front of them with your heart pounding and tell them it’s brilliant actually and without it they will never know what they like. Yes, little secret, i will burn in hell, mastabator you, will stand in front of a group of confused 13 year old girls that hate their vagina’s so much they let men fuck them till they are bruised and bleeding, girls that think sex is to pleasure men, girls that let men have sex with them in telephone boxes, in parks and in skips, girls that say to you, ‘ewwww, do you do it'? You will, believe it or not, stand tall and say YES I do and I love it. The sky will not fall in and God will not strike you down. You will go home and cry that night after work, not for you but for the state of the fucking world. It will all be worth it though, those young women will decide to call their youth group, women that wank.
Don’t wait for permission to create, you’ll spend your early 20’s telling people you’re not creative, mostly because you can’t draw, stop it! Everyone is creative, the older you grow the more you’ll come to realise that you are one step removed from all the creatives and artists you love, that step is belief. You’ll eventually believe in your self and go on to write poetry and theatre and even share it with the world.
The universe is one step ahead of you. You will fall in love with a kind man and go on to have two, kind, funny, lovely boys. Yes, I said boys, all your sisters will have girls but the universe knows what you need, even your cat rolo ,will be male, your house will be full of men and it will be, mostly, joyful!
You will go through a phase of reading your boys their favourite bed time story every night, you’ll find it boring and repetitive and not understand the appeal for them. it’s just a story about a family going on a bear hunt, they come across easily navigated wether related obstacles, a shallow river, a forests and a muddy field, nothing really happens. Each time they encounter a new wether related challenge, they say over and over again, that they can’t go under it, they can’t go over it, uh oh, they have to go through it. This will eventually click with you and it will become your mantra. So in light of this genius children’s book, my final words are, even though I have given you all this advice, you can’t go under it, you can’t go over it, uh oh, you have to go through it. And it’s ok, sometimes it’s even fun.