This is what you look like at twenty-eight years *young*.
You. Are. Happy.
You're nearly 6 feet tall, although that much hasn't changed since your teenage years. For the first twenty or so years of your life you resembled a flesh-coloured string bean with long brown hair so don't worry so much about body image, it's not that important and you will grow. Thankfully now that you're well into your twenties you have finally developed the curves you so desired as a young teenage girl. Grey hair will come next and that's ok because it's life and it's still beautiful.
Don't listen to what mean girls say when they make fun of you and call you anorexic and messed up, simply because you have a healthy diet and haven't developed completely. Usually the girls making fun of you for being slight of frame are those with their own body insecurities, and when you're older you will understand that the majority of those girls suffered some degree of childhood obesity, which is very sad for them.
If I could offer you advice, I would tell you not to worry so much about what you think others think about you. You cannot read other peoples minds to know what they're thinking and trust me, you have a hard enough time trying to sort through your own colourful thoughts.
Take better care of yourself and your loved ones. Try to remember that family is more important than most other elements in your life.
Don't wear clothes simply because they're in fashion or belong to a particular brand that is 'cool' at the time. Dress for your body type and try not to jeer when I say this but Mum knows what looks good on you, so ask for her opinion. It will make her feel good too.
Don't take the hurtful things said about you or your family to heart. It was difficult growing up in a town where your mother was the only female police officer. Several children belonging to disgruntled members of the community who received speeding tickets or tickets for DUIs from your mother made fun of you. They called your mother Miss Piggy in attempt to make you cry and when you walked passed them, they said they could smell bacon because 'your mother is a pig'. Remember that such taunts can only hurt you if you let them and usually they come from the mouths of children who may come from difficult circumstances. As for the rest of them, you will learn that the old saying 'Empty vessels make the most noise' rings true and you can laugh about it later.
Don't retaliate, don't try to befriend bullies, simply ignore it and be thankful that you do have genuine friendships with young girls who mature into beautiful, caring women, wives and mothers.
Surround yourself with positivity, exercise a little more often to get those endorphins pumping. Take longer walks with your mother and your chihuahua Portia.
Don't worry about boys. I know you knew this way back then that it's not often that a young girl finds The One in high school. You still worried about it because of those raging teenage hormones that had you swinging from happy to sad and back to happy again for many years but I'm here to tell you that being patient is really what is best for you. In about a decade, which will feel more like the blink of an eye, you will find the perfect man for you, without even looking.
You will already be quite happy, but very busy with work and he will one day appear in front of you with that beautiful smile. You will like each other immediately, and that like will blossom into the most powerful love you have ever felt in your short life. Everything that made you happy before will somehow be magically enhanced, simply because he is with you. He will treat you with respect and love everything about you, from the freckles that lightly dust your nose to your loud laugh and the way you sleep, hugging your pillow. He will occasionally make you breakfast in bed, walk with you on the beach, fingers delicately interlaced and hopefully one day he will be the father of your children.
You should probably look up Borneo at a young age so you know where your future husband is from because guess what? He's Malaysian.
Don't be such a pushover. Many a time people were nice to you, simply because they wanted something. Just because something is within your power, it does not mean that others have the right to sponge off you. You will notice this is a pattern of behaviour that will continue well into your twenties and I want you to know that it is ok to occasionally help out but don't do the dirty work or the extra assignments or take the unwanted late shifts at work simply because you don't like negative confrontation. Stand your ground, people will learn to respect you for it and it makes your life easier.
Go to bed earlier. Trust me. Less wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes. You will be less grumpy and more fun to be around, especially for Mum.
Plan a holiday with just you and Mum to thank her for raising you by herself, it wasn't easy by any means.
If I could prevent you from doing something I would scream, 'Don't date that Irish guy!' He may have a PhD and seem accomplished but all he will do is make you feel bad about yourself and your family. He will isolate you from your family, closest friends and workplace to achieve this task and he will be extremely unreasonable. You're better than that. He will prevent you from answering the telephone incase his catholic mother is on the other end because he is ashamed to tell her that he asked you to move in with him. He should be ashamed about the way he treats you or the fact that he does not clean, or throw out the garbage but rather, leaves empty dirty containers growing mould and half-full swollen milk cartons on the bench. Gross.
He will be the biggest hypocrite you'll ever meet by telling you that people should never be friends with their exes because apparently it is morally wrong. He will make you end relationships with people by threatening to leave you otherwise. Then he will leave you for his ex (who he remained in close contact with throughout your relationship) and move to Mexico or Spain or somewhere with her and leave you feeling like you deserved it. You didn't.
You also didn't deserve the grey hairs that soon followed but that's part of life and part of you, so don't beat yourself up over it. Sometimes shit happens and grey hair is the least of your worries.
Write things down so you don't forget important deadlines. You've missed important appointments because you relied too heavily on your memory and trust me, your memory is fallible. Carry a pen and post-it notes in your bag or use your phone to record reminders.
Remember to floss your teeth because you're still nervous when you visit the dentist and better daily dental care equals less time in that dreadful chair and less money wasted. Bonus.
Drink more water daily, clean your bathroom more often and make your bed EVERY morning when you wake up because it will help you to start your day.
Do something nice for others, take care of the environment whenever you can, turn off lights when you're not using them. The electricity costs will become ridiculously expensive and every cent counts.
Start your financial savings earlier.
Don't go out when you have assignments due at university. Lecturers don't chase you like your school teachers did for late papers.
It's up to you to be your own self-motivator. You're the boss of your life so tackle this role with great responsibility. Don't take unnecessary risks for a low chance of reward. Be thoughtful and reasonable.
Don't watch terrible TV, like Big Brother and other reality televisions programs. They are a waste of your time and I'm so, so, SO glad you figured this out early on.
Stop waffling on so much and listen more. Think before you speak and make sure you understand what people are saying by asking questions.
Listen to your mother, it will help you to communicate with her better and she will appreciate it. It will also show your maturity.
Don't forget to be young and enjoy life, don't take yourself so seriously. It doesn't matter if others judge you or if your hair isn't perfect. If you make sensible decisions and live within your means, then who cares what anyone thinks? The only person in your life who matters when you're so young (apart from yourself) is your mother. Have more sit-down meals together.
Try to maintain your friendships better. It's sad when communication is lost and although it can be difficult to keep in touch with your friends over the years, there are some endearing friendships that are worth the extra time. You know which ones they are.
Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It's not something to be ashamed of and you will save yourself a lot of trouble and stress.
If you really want something, it's better to try and fail, then not to try at all. Just weigh up the risks and gains first.
Remember who you are and who you want to be and you'll be just fine.
Sometimes bad things will happen and you will have difficulty getting through but time is the greatest healer and you will be ok. Trust me, I've been there. Sometimes a good cry, a hot shower, something to eat and a Rom-Com are just what you need, curled up in bed with Maxi cat. Don't believe me? One day you will add a sweet husband and adoring puppy to your family. See? Life gets so much better.
Finally, know that I love you and you should too. You're very important and you matter.
Love Bella xx