I could write to you about making sure you take time for yourselves, doing a job that you absolutely love, or making sure you travel and see the world. I could choose to do something completely different and pass on some of your favourite food recipes instead, just in case I never get a chance to teach you how to cook a pasta sauce or a vegetable lentil curry myself (you both wolf these two meals down).
It’s been a tough decision to make, but I’ve decided to write to you about the first lesson I wish I'd learned. I guess that makes this the letter that I wish I could have written to my younger self, too.
I can still remember being surrounded by organised chaos on the first day of school. It was nothing like play group; it instantly felt bigger and more grown up. I could sense children around me were becoming friends and I wanted in on the bonding action.
Bizarrely, I somehow found myself on the outside looking in. Don't get me wrong – I had friends and lots of them, too. But I never felt properly accepted, rather that I was floating around without one particular best mate. I was liked but not THAT liked. I was inoffensive, sweet and kind – but my one true friend match just wasn't in that first class. It could be that everyone felt the same way but were great at covering up any insecurity that they might’ve felt. To me, though, they all seemed so set and contented.
It was three years later that the bullying started. Thinking about it now, it may actually have been going on even before then. Two best mates let me join their duo, making me part of a new trio.
Sometimes threes work. I know the whole 'two's company, three's a crowd' saying is popular, but I don't believe in that. Threes can work, but they just didn't for us. Perhaps they never wanted it to work in the first place and they were just messing with me, but I have to believe that eight-year-olds aren’t so naturally mean. The bullying was both mental and physical and it only stopped because we moved house.
It might surprise you to hear that something that occurred when I was so young had a huge effect on me as an adult when it came to making friends and longing to be accepted. If it became clear someone didn’t like me then I would go out of my way to win that person over. As a result, I have lost a lot of time focusing on people I really shouldn’t have bothered with. It’s only since you boys arrived that I’ve put a stop to that. I don’t have the time to play games when it comes to friendships.
You might wonder why I'm telling you all this. It's simply because I hope it gives you permission to not care if you aren't accepted by everyone. The truth is that not everyone is going to like you anyway – and that’s normal and fine.
There will be those who might find you annoying, needy, weird or loud. Trust me, though, there will be far more people who think you’re wonderful, intelligent, funny and kind – focus on them instead. Let those be the type of people you give your time and share your lives with
Bad friendships leave you feeling belittled and unworthy, while good friendships leave you secure and happy.
Bad friendships make you doubt your self worth, while good ones make you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to.
The great thing is that YOU get to choose who your friends are. YOU get to decide what type of friends you have by your side.
We're all individual and unique, and that's what makes us so brilliant. So embrace exactly what makes you YOU and run with it while creating the best squad in the world.
And remember, you will always have each other. If you’re anything like me, your Aunty Giorgina and Uncle Mario, you’ll drive each other mad at times, but you’ll also be the best of friends. Don’t underestimate the unconditional love that comes from family.
Love you always,