Dear High School Kate: What I Know Now

Hello Kate,

Or I guess I should call you Katie, because that’s what you’re going by right now. This is you, at 20 years old. I wanted to share some “words of wisdom”, that I’ve gained in my 3 years since leaving home.

I know that you think New Liskeard sucks, but please try and appreciate the good that is under all that absolute crap. I know that your friends like to binge drink and flirt with your ex’s, I know that it will be hard to separate yourself from that, but once you do you’ll be left with two of the best friends that you have, and they’ll still be in your life today. But don’t forget to appreciate those other friends while you can. They’ve held you while you cried and made you laugh until you couldn’t breath. You have differences, but don’t forget to appreciate all your similarities while you can.

I know that sometimes it feels like you can’t relate to anyone in that town, but there are countless people who are in the exact same position as you. Waiting to get out to move to bigger cities and meet more open minded people. You’ll do it eventually. You’ll meet some of the most amazing people in your first year of Uni. They’ll be the type of friends you wanted all of high school. They play in a band, they try hard in school, they know how to have fun without puking at the end of the night. It’s a literal dream come true, hold out for that because you have so many good times coming.

Cherish the time you have with your family. You will never be a two minute walk from your grandma’s again, or a two second walk to your sisters bedroom. You won’t be able to sit down and eat with your family whenever you want, or lounge around with them watching tv. These daily activities you take for granted will be the things you miss the most when you’re off living on your own. I know you’re getting older, and sometimes you think your family doesn’t understand you, but I promise you they understand more than you give them credit for. You will go through so much shit in the next couple years, and they will be there for you more than anyone else. Laugh with your sister as much and as often as you can, because in your first year of Uni you’ll feel like something is missing inside, and it will take you a while, but it was laughter, the laughter you used to share with your sister every day when getting ready for school, or while hanging out together at night.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. I cannot emphasize this enough. I know you’re sleeping on average 4-5 hours a night, going to school for 7 hours and working 4. Change this! Nothing is as important as sleep. Turn off your phone, shut your laptop, say good night to who ever you’re talking to, and GO TO SLEEP. School will not be as painful, work will go by quicker, your general attitude will be better. Please, just go to fucking sleep.

On the topic of help… there is NO shame in getting help. This is something you will struggle with to this day. Yes, you are most likely depressed, and that’s ok. Googling the symptoms of depression and trying to diagnose yourself isn’t enough. Crying every day isn’t normal. Your mum isn’t ignoring your crying, she just doesn’t know what to do. Talk to some one! Your school has a counsellor, there are help lines, your aunt is a mental health worker – just reach out. You are not crazy, you are not broken, you are not over reacting, you are not just emotional – you are perfectly normal, you’re just clinically sad and there are ways to feel better again. Time doesn’t have to be your only medicine.

Stay young little girl. I know that right now you’re going through so much shit that you don’t deserve to be going through. But at 20 years old, you feel 35, and I know that at 16 you are feeling so much older than you are already. I know that you’re being forced to deal with issues far beyond your years but are not yet old enough or mature enough to know how to properly deal with them. Here is my best advice: there is no shame in cutting people out of your life that don’t deserve to be there. Even if they’re blood. Actually, especially if they’re blood. You know who I’m talking about. They aren’t in your life now, they haven’t been for months. I know that at 16 you think they’re just going through something and that it’s something you can fix, but it’s not. They’re a grown up and you’re a child and none of this is your fault or your problem to fix. Your biggest worries should be school and how you’re going to spend your weekend, that’s it.

Before I go, here are my last few pieces of advice: save some money, hug your family more often, consider college, smile whenever possible, listen to more music, drive more carefully, get an iPhone instead of a blackberry, start exercising now, don’t give up soccer, take science classes, you don’t need to lose weight, love yourself endlessly – being confident isn’t cocky, start writing down your thoughts, bottle up your laughter, take more photos, be proud of the things you’re good at, STOP OVER THINKING EVERYTHING.

I promise that everything will be ok even when it feels like things couldn’t possibly turn around. When you feel like you can’t possibly make it through the day, remember that your track record for getting through a bad day is 100%, and that’s pretty damn good.

Love always,
20-year-old Kate (Katie)



  1. Beautiful letter Kate. You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself! I just learned so much about you that I didn’t know. I wish you had reached out to me. I tried to let you know that my door was always open but you never knocked. I am sure you had your reasons. Sometimes when we need help the most, we are just too vulnerable and frightened to reach out. I am proud of you for posting about this. Like you said, no shame! There is alot of help out there. We all have our struggles, the only difference is, some people deal with their “shit” and others don’t. I am happy you are one such courageous soul.
    P.S. My door remains open.
    Love auntie Jayne

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