Loving all versions of me (because I'm great)
Sometimes I feel like I'm living all of my past selves at the same time.
I'm 13 years old, and I’ve got a proper crush on a boy for the first time ever. I'm still reliving that evening when he and I went for a walk with our friends, into a field full of haybales in the middle of the countryside. I lie down on a haybale, with him sitting higher up, looking down at me. I’m spreading my hair out beneath my head, imagining that I look like a Disney princess. Later on, he tells me on MSN that he's never seen anyone look so pretty. I'm still feeling the excitement and adrenaline that came from sitting up on the family computer past my bedtime (11pm), with the sound on the lowest setting so that the 'ding' wouldn't wake up my parents every time I got a message from my year 9 bae.
I'm the 14 year old in the midst of an intense One Direction phase, running my own Tumblr dedicated to my favourite five boys, and writing Harry Styles fan fiction. I’m religiously watching all of their X Factor video diaries every day, feeling like I actually know them and am a part of their lives. I remember, on many occasions, getting genuinely angry and frustrated waking up in the morning, realising a blissful life in which I'm best friends with Liam Payne, and where Larry Stylinson exists, is actually just a dream. It might have been around 7 years since the days of constantly talking about Harry Styles' rumoured American girlfriend on the bus to school every morning, but I'm still that person somewhere deep down.
I'm 16, and I’ve just decided I'm too cool for One Direction, so I’ve reinvented myself as an edgy indie lady straight out of Tumblr dot com, complete with flower crown, Dr Martens and Arctic Monkeys merchandise. I'm still the little naive girly thinking I'm in love with the super cool mysterious older boy who writes me 10-page love letters saying he loves my "sexy legs and eyes that glitter in the sunlight", and who tells me that because he is a Buddhist, his life motto is not 'YOLO', it's 'YALA', because 'You Always Live Again'.
I'm the 17 year old who is just realising what a healthy relationship consists of, and finally learning that self-worth and consent are actually big factors in this. I'm learning what it feels like to truly be in love and to have the feeling reciprocated, and to be safe and happy in a little snow-globe with that person. And somewhere deep down, I'm still the 18 year old who's having their heart broken for the first time.
I'm the confused and scared 19 year old, starting university, being thrown into a big loud world of vodka and blackcurrant squash, learning how to cope with drum and bass, after coming from a tiny village where nights out consist of going to the local Wetherspoons followed by the only club in town which solely plays house remixes of chart music and David Guetta songs. I'm still the little fresher getting too drunk every night, sending a whole lotta drunk texts to my ex and having to wash up my dishes in my en-suite bathroom because I'm too scared of my flatmates.
I'm 22 now and I find comfort in acknowledging my past selves, knowing that they will always be a part of me, and also knowing how much I have grown and learnt since my first MSN love story back in 2010. All of my embarrassing phases, all of my mistakes and my heartbreaks, all the times I've made a fool of myself, have built me up to become someone I feel proud to be now.
But I also find comfort in remembering that who I am now is temporary, and is still evolving. I've got a whole lot more to learn, probably some more drunk regrets to experience, and, most likely, many more phases to go through. It was only earlier this year I had an intense Trolls addiction that lasted at least two months, and consisted of watching the film three times a week and listening to the soundtrack every day. And talking about it, a lot. Anyone who is still friends with me after that, I thank you and I love you.
You are the sum of all of your parts, and when you can acknowledge all of them - the good and the bad - that is when you can properly love you. You, and all of the wonderful and naive you's that have ever existed.