A Letter to Younger Jess

By Jess Guy-Patterson, September 22, 2023

Read time: 6 Mins

A Letter to Younger Jess Image

1. Friends
When it comes to friends, make some, make more, then make more after that. Life sends you all the people you need to be exposed to: strong ones, arrogant ones, weak ones, open ones, irrational ones, backstabbing ones, humble ones, tough ones, seemingly perfect ones, asshole ones, beautiful ones, ugly ones, encouraging ones, supportive ones. All of the ones for you to choose from, discard and accept as part of your landscape. Remember they are a choice and you can choose better. If you do make some shit choices know that you can change this and it will absolutely not be the end of your world, or theirs.

Friends come and go based on your choices.

2. Work
Work hard and enjoy the work you do. Start with entry level jobs because you have to start somewhere; whether it’s a fast food joint, a lackie in the office, doing horse treks or babysitting – do it to the best of your ability. Business owners and managers will see you working hard and being enthusiastic, even if they don’t tell you everyday. Lastly, as you start in the working landscape, remember that you are young and new,  so watch what comes out of your mouth and who you say it to, because you don’t know after a few months where alliances may be held or who is listening.

3. Love
LOVE with everything you have. Be open, be honest, care – this person your with doesn’t have to stick around, and even after 20 years you need to ensure they feel loved, safe, encouraged, supported and absolutely NOT taken for granted.

Never go to bed angry, always tell one another I love you. Fight, don’t fight, and if you do fight, stick to what you believe in. It’s ok to disagree. Be the first person to say sorry. Laugh together as much as possible. Hug. Have sex lots and enjoy every aspect of sharing each others bodies, be considerate and listen, it’s not all about you.

Remember in life that people are on their own journey and things that are important to you won’t be important to them and that is ok. Be respectful and remember you have a choice. People are not mind readers, don’t expect them to be, you need to be able to assert what you think and feel.

4. Family
Make time for your family when you are a shitty teen, when you’re finding your way in your 20s and when you’re forming your career. The people that will be there when it all falls away will be your family. Keep their respect and wherever possible, apologise for your short comings with real weight and learn from your mistakes.

5. Play
Go on adventures. Seek the unknown get out of your comfort zone, make an idiot of yourself, get muddy, try new things outside or in the kitchen. You don’t know what you may like until you try. Keep doing those things you like as you get older. Give time give time to your family, help your friends don’t live by a never ending list. 

6. Nature
It is so special to be to be at one with nature and to revel in the life that lives there. I love the flowers from seed to bloom. It is remarkable watching birds navigate the seasons and how much joy they get out of spring, the lambs born on the coldest nights magically surviving and some not – taking solace that the little tails that do continue to wag do so for the ones that can’t. Feeling empathy for the animals that lose babies just as humans do. I look at beauty everywhere in spiders webs, or how the biggest trees come from the smallest darkest places on the forest floor. I love being outside, hearing the quiet and watching the native world go about its business with grace and dignity on top while being grimy and disgustingly cruel underneath. There is so much joy to be taken from nature. 

7. The Ocean
Breathe deeply, and feel the sun on your skin. Watch the way that water is fluid. It’s there for you one moment gone the next, the sand is dry, then wet, it is like life: supportive and devastatingly unsupportive. The waves in the shallows are small and manageable but as you move from ankle deep to knee, to hip, to overhead those waves become so difficult to navigate. Remember, if you stop trying to jump over them you can dive through and come out the other side, or simply float over the big rolling ones. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow and literally ride the wave. 

8. Be imperfect.
I love my children and the exceptional way they have gone from being tiny, inconceivably helpless little things to walking, talking, sporting, intelligent strong, courageous, incredible, truly incredible people. I have so much respect for them and want to share every piece of knowledge with them but alas, I know it is not my job to save them from the hard parts of life but thrust them into the harder parts to learn their own lessons and get out of their way so they can. 

I wish they knew that I second guess everything I/we do. I’m sorry almost every day that parenting and showing another individual what you deem at the time to be the best path is probably going to be something they totally disagree with when they get older. It really is a tough pill to swallow.

I want them to know that they are the single most purposeful and loved things in my/our life and would do anything to see them safe and fed. I want them to know that I can be good and bad as a person and that it is ok to bend the rules and systems society sets out. I want them to know that mistakes are how we learn, and letting the guard rail down and running off the track can sometimes be the thing we need to stay on the right path. To understand that what has happened in the past can not be changed so don’t dwell on the ‘shoulda couldas’ – you cannot go back so look forward. 

9. Music & Cars
Music, all of the music. Listen to it, sing it, try to make it, share it and be cool with listening to classical piano, blues, pop, rock new old and R&B. Teach your kids about music and music culture and that just because you listen to rap doesn’t make you a gangster. Drive cars, drive fast, drive slow, accept offers to drive nice cars and then drive them like you stole them and enjoy that too. 

10. Yourself & Others
As a woman it’s ok to have a firm hand shake and to be firm, assertive and engage mens eyes when you greet them. In business meetings and everything that surrounds, they’ll make comments, they’ll flex, but ultimately they’ll be surprised or impressed and they’ll remember you more for being strong. Be confident in your skin, you didn’t choose it, it was lovingly made for you by your parents (literally). You cannot choose the beauty you were given so whatever you’re working with, own it and bloody well look after it. There is a lot more living to do after your 20s and you are going to need to care for it. 

Lastly, when all is said and done and someone is reading your eulogy let it be full of your accolades. Don’t dwell on this thought, but if you were to go tomorrow who would attend and what would they say? Happy with that?

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