Wednesday, 2 December 2009

With Twenty Years More Life Experience

Dear 16 Year Old Me,

I have twenty years more life experience than you do right now, so listen. Actually your older self is just about the only person you would listen to. Being shy and uncertain is ok, and normal, but I'm afraid to say won't go away any time soon, so deal with it.

I could reel off a long list of 'don'ts' here. The incidents, whilst on your gap year in New Zealand and Indonesia, spring to mind. I guess that they are the sort of things that make you who you really are and if you didn't do them a chunk of you might be missing. But do you really need to have bleached blonde hair?

Living in a bus is not one of your finest moments, either, but I suppose it is only a mild and short-lived rebellion and it does give your husband something to tease you about later. All those big anti-establishment ideals that you are about to develop will eventually be replaced by proper, important stuff, so don't take yourself too seriously.

Yes, I did say 'husband'. I know that you think you never want to be married, but you will, and you will be very happy. Your wedding day truly will be the most fantastic day of your life and you DO want a big white wedding. I know, I know, you can't believe that right now, but trust me. I'm not going to tell you who He is, but he will walk into your life when you are least expecting it, he is nothing like you imagine, and he will change everything dramatically. It's amazing.

Don't sit around and wait for anything to happen. You've got to do it all by yourself.

But money is a biggy. You're going to get yourself into an awful lot of debt which will take a long, long time to clear. Buy now pay later should not be a life maxim. Just try and be a bit more frugal.

By the way, Physics, Maths and Economics are the wrong choice of A-level subjects. English Literature is the only one of your choices that you're going to do well in anyway, and you will NEVER use the others. I know that you're trying to please your father, but go with your instincts and take the things you love and are good at, like History and Graphic Design.

Begin writing sooner. You know already that it is secretly what you really want to do. You're not going to accidentally become a writer, it won't happen by itself: you need to work at it and there is no need to wait until your thirties.

But this is the really important bit: It all just gets better and better. There are some big ups and downs in your twenties, but as each year passes you become more content. You'll dread your thirtieth birthday, but there is no need, because in fact it's after that that things start to get really good.

Enjoy every second. Lots of love,

P.S. Childbirth hurts much more than even your mother tells you, but it will be ok!

This is in response to Josie's Writing Workshop at Sleep is for the Weak.


  1. Oh how brave to write to your 16 year old self. Mine was far to horrendous to even listen!!

  2. "Begin writing sooner. You know already that it is secretly what you really want to do. You're not going to accidentally become a writer, it won't happen by itself"

    What you just said, to my 16-year old self too. I like you saying things got so good after you turned 30 - my early 20's were awful and I'm feeling the pressure to do everything now before the big 3-0!

    Great letter, thank you

    Josie (Sleep is for the Weak) xx

  3. You lived on a bus? Like Cliff Richard? Excellent!

    My 16 year old self was far too goody-goody to need a letter. But my 18 year old self...