Alice Pelton: A Letter To My 20-Year-Old Self

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Dear 20-year-old Alice,

Your early twenties will be exhausting, confusing and competitive. You and your friends will be fresh out of University or stuck at home with your parents, facing scary decisions about where to work, live, and what to ‘do’ with your life. You will be too old to go to student nights, but too skint to enjoy living in London.

Around the age of 25, things will start to get better. You will all start to draw around the edges of your identity – doing what you want, instead of what is ‘cool’. Your friends who are bored of pretending to like their first jobs, will quit. Your friends who’ve finally admitted they don’t like going clubbing, will stop going out. Some of you will get married. Some of you will change beyond recognition.

It will be a big decade – and as you roll through the punches of relationships, friendships, family dramas and jobs, you will realise that this is what life as an adult is like.

With that in mind, here’s 20 tips to make the next 10 years a bit easier:

20 things you’ll learn before you’re 30

  1. You can’t change people (especially boyfriends).
  2. Always buy underwear at least a size bigger.
  3. Never make any big life decisions drunk or hungover.
  4. No one is going to judge you unless you feel like you’re available to be judged. Always laugh at yourself.
  5. The ‘wait 3 months and then review’ rule applies to new jobs, houses and the contraceptive pill. If you can, give things time.
  6. Living with other women will be one of the most formative, life affirming experiences you will ever have.
  7. Talking about sex is more important than having it. Communicate.
  8. Your parents are actually amazing people. Get to know them. As they get older, you’ll start to feel sad you didn’t.
  9. Getting an IUD fitted is totally worth the pain. Just make sure your boyfriend doesn’t order you both an Uber Pool home afterwards.
  10. You never regret going for a walk.
  11. After 30 years you’ll still be incapable of managing your period flow.
  12. It’s impossible to go into Boots for one item and not come out spending at least £15.
  13. ‘Trust your instinct’ isn’t just one of those cliched things they write on fridge magnets. Often your first reaction to something is the conclusion you’ll come back to, even after months or years of ignoring it.
  14. Getting some sleep is often the solution to being miserable.
  15. Women your age can get cancer. Check your boobs. Book a smear test.
  16. Never converse with anyone until you’re fed. Or turn up at anyone else’s house hungry. Bring crisps.
  17. Asking for the Morning After Pill really isn’t that embarrassing. And is much better than lying awake at night for the next few weeks worrying you’re pregnant.
  18. The happiest phases in life are those filled with variety. Shape your life to create it.
  19. Time (spent together or spent making something for someone) really is the best gift you can give.
  20. Feminism is not agreeing with everything women say.

More than anything, your twenties will be a time in which you will learn so much about your body, your sexuality – and your contraception. Contraception is complicated and confusing; doctor’s appointments are short and it’ll be hard to find the information you need.

By the time you reach 30 you will have spoken to countless other women who will feel the same way, and realise how important it is to share our experiences. This will give you the idea for The Lowdown – the world’s first review platform for contraception.

Ultimately, what you want at 21 and 29 might be different – and that’s absolutely fine. Your twenties are like the first sweep of a buffet; you don’t know what you are going to like yet. But after the next crucial years of experimentation, you will come out the other side feeling happier with what’s on your plate.

Enjoy the process – and please stop being so hard on yourself.

Love from,
31-year-old Alice

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.