Dear 16 year old me…

Nope this isn’t a trick. Nor is it time travel. I don’t know what this is. Just go with your heart and know that this is from a friend, even if you don’t really believe that I am an older you with a couple of decades more experience and life stories to tell.

I know you are fretting about your studies at the moment. Am I going to tell you what happens? Not exactly, that would defeat the object of experience, but I will share some of what I know is important to where you are now.

You know how you all sit around in the common room at school and discuss who will get married first, who will have kids first, who’ll be the old spinster… all that jazz? Well, despite the protests of your friends that you’ll meet someone and get married soon, you actually have a pretty good take on things. You have no illusions about life and marriage in that sense, you know you best, and you must stick to your guns and be you no matter what. When the time comes to choose your road, you will pick the right one. And this will make sense when the moment arrives. You won’t see it coming, but you’ll know what’s right in your heart. Education is not something you should allow anyone to take from you. It’s where you belong. Not because of Grammar-girl entrenched ideas, it’s because you fit the bill as someone who loves learning, but not learning by rote. It is superb to always have questions, to always want to know ‘why?’. You’ll end up with a badge clipped to your bag that reads “question everything”, which makes you smile whenever you see it. You are allowed to set your brain free.

You won’t find out just how well you fit into academic exploration for some years, yet, but your heart will sing for the joy of what you will find that you are capable of. And yes, you will be able to make a difference by doing so. Stick with it kiddo. And stop that blummin’ nonsense thinking that you’re not that intelligent or capable, okay? Your brain breezed through school when you were a kid, and even with your tendency to bumble apologetically through the years you won’t have slipped anywhere near as far as you seem to have convinced yourself you have.

When you feel you’ve hit educational rock bottom, look into your heart to decide what to do next. You’ll see that there’s no question. And everything really will be okay. Education is not a fleeting thing for you. Other people get qualifications to get jobs, earn more money and go ‘up’ in the world. I know you hate all this focus on materialistic stuff but don’t worry, that word ‘education’ that seems only to stand for spoon-fed learning will actually transform into a love of question-fuelled usefulness when you find new skills which open up possibilities that you find glorious and exciting. Just choose what you want to learn as you go along. You’ll get to that place, don’t worry, enjoy.

I know that there are far bigger things muddling up your head right now. And it’s understandable. You know what? Cut yourself some slack, girl. You’ve been stronger, far stronger, than you realise. You’re in that place where you feel grown-up but don’t have the practice at it, yet. As you get older the surprise is that you’ll experience no magical change into ‘grown-up’-ness. You will always be you. I know this makes sense to you, but the reality is more so than you think. And you’ve every right to be you. Nothing that anyone else has ever done, or ever will do, can take that away from you. You should not be subservient, you are not a doormat, and you always have the right to stand up and walk away from a situation. Looking back at what you feel now galls me. Know that if I could hug you now, I would. And know too that this will pass, you will get through it, and you will discover a stronger you as a result. Hang onto you and the future will trundle on in and take you away from this time. And the years will fade what you are feeling now, although it will always be a part of who you are.

As for boys. I know. You trust everyone and no-one. And the ones that do seem genuine still make you twitchy. What you may be surprised to hear is that most of them think it’s okay to behave the way they do. They don’t truly see how vulnerable you are because you’re so good at acting as if you are confident. But those couple that seem genuine are the real deal. I know you’re not ready, just let them down gently. And know that by the time you are me and writing this to yourself, you will have met the most amazing man who embodies all your hopes and ideals. So don’t give up on them, settle for nothing less, because he is in your future. I’m not telling you when in your future, though, because then you wouldn’t have the experiences which led you to him in the first place. But no… you’re not going to be a mad old cat lady!

And as for advice. Well, you already have the morals to carry you through. Not everyone is as honest or open as you are, you’ll find that out as you go along. But those that meet you and grow to love you as a friend will treasure you for who you are, so don’t feel as if you’re somehow weird or boring for being ‘good’! There will be ups and downs, but aren’t there always? Sometimes there’ll be more of one than the other. My strongest advice is to prepare yourself for anything without fretting, live every moment to treasure it later, and never assume anything about anyone, even those closest to you. Your strongest asset is yourself. There will be tough times, and you will find ways to get through them. If it helps… it is worth it. However bumpy the road gets, it is always truly worth it.

Lots of love and a big hug from me, xx

P.S. Don’t wear wobbly-heeled shoes. Ever. Even on a special occasion.

P.P.S. Trust me. It’s not good for our body. Just don’t do it, x

2 thoughts on “Dear 16 year old me…

  1. This is lovely and incredibly touching.
    Read this on the train home yesterday evening in grey, wet London. It had been a good day, helping my patients and here I was in my grown up scarf and coat, but still listening to Billy Joel on my ipod.
    If only we really could write letters to our 16 year-old selves… Like you, I would definitely let her know that everything turns out fine.

    • Thanks hon’, yes, we had enough spinning round our heads at 16 without being told about bumpy roads to come. There’s no way I could tell younger me about my future health problems. In some ways it’s not what’s important, being true to ourselves and finding something we love to do, and to be, is wonderful. I’m so glad that you enjoy what you get to do for a living. I love that we retain a bit of our younger selves, it made me smile to read that you were listening to Billy Joel on the way home. That must’ve de-greyed the day a bit 🙂

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