14-22: What Can I Learn From My Younger Self?

A collection of diary entries from 14-22.

For the past 8 years, I’ve kept up a unique birthday tradition. While most people celebrate with candles on cakes, shiny balloons and fancy food, there’s something that I’ve done for myself every year just before the big day, which I’ve finally decided I want to share with the world – my diary entries.

Now, I know a lot of people have diaries, but as someone who’s quite erratic and not great at sticking to routine, I’m rather proud that somehow, since 2010, I’ve managed to sit down before my birthday and reflect on what’s happened to me each year. It’s something I’ve always hand-written and just seeing how much my penmanship has changed over the years is proof of how much I’ve transformed – let alone the actual content!

So here they are, snippets from tween Helena to young adult (unadulterated and sadly, error-prone), so that I can share all that I’ve learnt from my younger self:


So I’m 15 tomorrow… and I’m not really sure what to write. It’s not like it’s a big age difference, meaning that going 14 to 15 doesn’t exactly give you new privileges. Still, it is strange that I feel so much older and more mature than a year ago? It feels like a few years have passed rather than one, even though Year 9 went extremely quickly for me! I don’t know what it is but this year, I DO feel different.


… Today is also the day before my 16th birthday and now I’m reflecting on where my 15th year has taken me. A lot of things that were my priority/wishes, but now are not, happened. I got my first kiss. I got my first boyfriend. I also passed my Maths GCSE with an A*. I know I’ve done more but in all honesty, however sad this may sound, that was all that mattered to me on my 15th birthday. Even the maths thing back then wasn’t really on my mind. So look at me now. I may not be a better person but this year did make me just a little wiser.

25/10/2012  (Oops, don’t worry, I address this birthday blip)

… I do have to be ready by 10am though as I am going to the Harry Potter Studios tomorrow (how exciting!). Still, I just realised that I did not write on my birthday! Yes, I am 17 now but Harry Potter will never get old…

… However, to not disappoint my future self, I will just say that I was going to talk about the typical dilemma of listening to my heart and brain. I don’t think this will ever get easier but hey, on the bright side, you survived the first six weeks of sixth form. Toughest of your life so far but be proud!

I already cannot wait to look back on this one day and laugh hahahahaha…


… I guess I just wanted to write something down on my (technically) last day of being a child. I am still going to be pretty much the same, but in no longer being able to excuse my behaviour as nothing “since I’m still a kid”, it might give me the push I need to take on adult life and embrace it. It will be hard, but I think I’m ready…

Goodbye girl and hello woman!


… So I feel like it being a year on, I should probably reflect on how being an 18 year old was? Honestly, I think it’s been the hardest year of my life so far… The final bit of the Oxbridge process was horrendous and then I got rejected… and to end it all, my whole Tinder experience… he crushed my spirit (and heart) when he lost interest.

HOWEVER, when I do reflect on it all, I don’t completely despair because I must admit that I feel like I have learnt a lot this year. I got into Durham… I got 3 A*s… I discovered who my true friends were… I learnt a lot about myself and what I want out of life.

I am becoming more and more independent. Yes, life is difficult at times, but there is a reason why I’m still around. This girl isn’t giving up just yet and she plans to make the most out of what she’s got!


As tradition dictates, it’s almost my birthday and I’m writing another entry… I had a quick glance at the last entry and it’s refreshing to see how much has changed. I knew I had to document this life changing year…

Firstly and probably most importantly, I have a boyfriend… life at Durham went pretty okay too… I love my family… and I’m just hoping my perfectionist tendencies won’t get the better of me in the upcoming academic year. Either way, I cannot complain, even though I usually do. Ultimately, I do know that I am very lucky.


In less than half an hour, it will be my birthday and for the first time in a few years, I don’t feel ready or wise enough to acquire the next age. As previously discussed, that’s probably a good thing ultimately, but at times, this lack of knowledge fills me with dread…

Of course, that leads to the question of how well I am doing mentally. To answer that terrifies me, but perhaps words aren’t necessary – I can use St. Paul’s and again, rely on God’s love in my weakness. I am nowhere near perfect and I should not just accept it, but I also should not let it stupefy me as much as it does. TRUST IN GOD AND LIVING LIFE AS A 21 YEAR OLD WILL BE OKAY – MENTALLY, SPIRITUALLY, WHOLLY.


I think this is the most turbulent I’ve ever felt approaching my birthday and there is a logical explanation: I have no plans pushing me forward… It’s the most depressed I have ever felt and the most selfish. Not the best way to enter into the 22nd year of my life, is it?… “I’m young enough to make mistakes, but old enough to know better”. It’s an accurate description of what I feel like because, as we all know about myself, despite having no real problems, I feel crazy and unhappy…

But let’s not wallow in self-pity. I may be getting rejected all over the place, but… I got a first in my degree… I’m still with Andy…. I lived in the loveliest home for my last year of University… I also for some time went to the gym and really changed my physical & mental health around…

Summing that all up, it seems like progress to me. It’s been slow and I’ve definitely stagnated at this point in time, but hopefully, that will soon change. I essentially need to stop wanting to give up and start chasing life again. I need to like myself more because I keep seeking validation from others and the truth is that you can’t please everyone, especially if you’re not taking care of yourself as it alienates the loved ones around you. I need to fight for myself. 22 has always been my lucky number so who knows, maybe all is about to turn around…

So, after that whirlwind roller-coaster, I know that I’ve definitely learnt a lot.

For one, however old I get, I know that life will always have its problems, *but* it will also have its wonders. Every year, I am getting that much wiser and yes, when I’m 30, I will probably be laughing at how immature I was at 22/23 (I mean, come on, 14-16 year old Helena?!), but I’m glad I can accept that with open arms.

And even though I’ve struggled with my self worth and mental health for years, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve always tried to be grateful for what I have and that I’ve continually tried to be a better person.

So thank you younger me for documenting my progress and to all of YOU for reading and supporting my work this past year. I haven’t written my summary of being 22 yet, but there’s no hiding the fact that I’m grateful I have people like you, sharing in my struggles and helping me along every step of the way!

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