As I have been going over my 2001 diary and blogging it I have realised it was a very significant year in my life. It shaped who I am today in many ways. It was the year I became determined to become a writer. The year I was faced with leaving school, filled with fears about how repressive the world of adult work would be. It was the year I discovered alternative culture and started writing songs and dreaming of playing in a band. It was also the year my mental illness began. On the back of these themes that crop up constantly in this diary I feel I have few things I’d like to say to my sixteen year old self.
You dreamed so much a being a writer in those days. The pages of your diary are filled with the book you were working on at the time, World Against Me, and what high hopes you had for it. Let me tell you that while things may not have reached the dizzying heights you imagined you do still write and you did get a publishing deal with a small publishing house three years ago, when you were 29. You released your “Punk Rock Memoir” trilogy with them and although you haven’t made enough money to quit the day job and sales are sometimes non existent, I think you’d be tickled pink to know you have a book that is stocked by Waterstones! Besides, there’s still plenty of time for that best seller!
The adult world of work is not as bad as you feared. It has not turned you into, how did you put it in your diary, ‘a lonely, friendless, problem crippled, monotonous individual’. You’ve had some seriously shit jobs which have done there best to try and do exactly that to you but you have persevered and never let them take that alternative, creative spirit that was nurtured in 2001 by your love of your so called ‘moshers’. You are now in place where you are free to have crazy hair, piercings, tattoos and you get paid decent money too, and all of that sort of makes up for the fact that you haven’t really built yourself an actual career yet. You’ve been there seven years. The fact that your job allows you to be completely yourself is the main thing that has kept you there. I know how important being allowed to be yourself was, you wrote about it often enough in that diary!
Since first dabbling in that world of alternative culture with the ‘moshers’ at school you have been a goth with dyed black hair and new rock boots, a cyber goth fusing victorian mourning wear with neon rave gear, a punk with a full blown mohawk and doc marten boots. I don’t really know what you are now. There’s bits of all three in there I guess. You’ve been tattooed multiple times. You have really cool dreadlocks. You still wear the doc marten boots and the black eyeliner. You still listen to Green Day and the Offspring sometimes and you’ve picked up many more favourites along the way. I think you’d be pretty happy with how quirky you still are.
You used to dream of being in a band but told yourself you lacked musical ability. You thought the most you could hope for was giving away your songs to other bands. How would you feel if I told you you’ve been in two bands? You played bass for an industrial group, and played gigs at some of Glasgows best venues. You even had a record deal briefly and released a single, but again, it was never quite enough to quit the day job. After that you fronted a punk band and played support slots with bands who were pretty big in the 70s. And you even play solo acoustic gigs after discovering you can actually sing and play guitar. You have two albums out there now.
You wrote often about how ugly you felt in those days. You truly believed yourself to be hideous and were convinced no one could ever love you. Well guess what? Now while I’m not claiming you have turned into some kind of great beauty you are happy with how you look now (most of the time, we all have bad days). You fell in love when you were nineteen with someone who loves you for who you are and you have been married for 11 years.
One thing I will say is watch out for that sadness that you began to feel in 2001. You write about it creeping in but you don’t understand what it is or where it comes from. You couldn’t see it at the time but the sadness was depression. You were unwell that year, it’s the reason your school work went downhill, why a usually intelligent girl suddenly felt incapable and stupid. It wasn’t because you’d become a dunce as you often described yourself, you were just sick. Sadly you will be sick a lot. It will always come and go and will always make your life that little bit more of a struggle. You’ll suffer it for ten years before finally seeing it for what it is and seeking help. I’m not going to lie, it gives you hell sometimes, but you always pull through because you have some amazing people in your life and over the years you will get better an managing it.
You’ve done some pretty cool thing over the last sixteen years. Aside from all of the above you have travelled: New York, Marrakesh, Toronto, Dusseldorf, San Francisco, Venice. You once had a motorbike. You own a house and travel to your caravan in the countryside at weekends and keep hares as pets. You may not be a famous author like you planned (yet) but you’ve achieved lots. If I could tell you one thing I’d tell you not to worry. All the fears you wrote about are unfounded. You are not ugly. You do not loose yourself to the corporate world of work. Everything works out and you are not much different not to what you were then.
And one more thing. You seemed to worry so much about losing touch with your nest friend friend from primary school when you moved away from Newcastle aged 13. Well there’s good news there too. You are still best friends, you talk all the time and continue to help each other through lifes problems, just like you always did, so nothing has changed there.
Don’t worry, you pretty much get everything you want, just maybe on a bit of a smaller scale.