Dear 5-year-old me,
Look at you, you dancing, laughing, happy as Larry little girl with the world’s biggest smile on your face and an even bigger heart. Look at how happy you are and stay that way for as long as you possibly can. Keep smiling and laughing and dancing to your heart’s content. Your world is about to come crashing down on you but you’re going to be just fine because you’re a tough little cookie with so much love to give. Keep dancing. Don’t you ever lose that smile.
Dear 10-year-old me,
Look at you, you crazy, loveable, plump little pudding still with the world’s biggest smile on your face and in love with the swimming pool. Never forget how happy that water makes you, how free you feel when you swim. I wish I could prepare you for the mean girls, I wish I could but I can’t. Tough days are going to come but keep your head high because the best is waiting right round the corner and your love for swimming is going to intensify. Never forget why you started the sport in the first place because a dark day is going to come but you’re going to get through it. You’re turning into such a strong girl. Keep swimming. Just never lose that smile.
Dear 15-year-old me,
Look at you, British Record Holder, butterfly specialist and still with the world’s biggest smile on your face and an even bigger heart. Check you out, British Team, multiple sports and smashing up the international stage with confidence. You’ll soon become known as the girl with the toughest mentality, the girl who always bounces back. You’re smart enough to know that means rock bottom is coming, you can’t bounce back from anything lower than that. And I know, God do I know, your world is crashing down around you and it hurts, oh I know it aches inside but you’ll be fine. You’re always going to be fine. Please don’t lose that smile.
Dear 19-year-old me,
Look at you, World Record Holder. Not just British or European but World Record Holder with a degree and its almost time for London 2012. But that smile isn’t quite there anymore is it? I know where its gone and why but you don’t know. You haven’t noticed them wearing you down the past few years. You know they’ve been pressuring you but you have no idea what they’ve actually done to you. Please eat something, anything, just eat something. I wish I could have caught you before you fell but you fell so fast and no one noticed. They’re about to say things that will make the darkness swallow you up but don’t you worry because that smile is going to come back. It’s just going to take a while because the next 5 years are going to see so many people hurt you. Just don’t forget that you have so much love around you and all you need to do is ask. Please try to smile.
Dear 23-year old me,
Look at you, retired athlete, first class law degree with a secured training contract at a top firm. And there it is, that smile is coming back. I can see it, you can see it, we can feel it. I’m sorry that something you once loved turned into a world of fear and pain but stop blaming yourself and feel proud. Proud for tackling your demons and for making the right decisions. You’re going to go to London and you are going to meet some amazing people. Life will still happen just as life does but you’re going to heal far quicker than you imagined. You’re about to become happier than you’ve ever been before. You’re about to become that dancing, happy as Larry girl with the world’s biggest smile on her face and an even bigger heart. No, you’re not about to become her again. She never left.
Look at that smile.
It really is quite something.