Dear 16 year old me
It’s 2012 and you have just heard about people writing to their 16 year old selves so you thought you might do the same.
First of all T I want you to know that you actually turn out to be alright. It might only be August 1985 for you right now, but stop fretting and just relax. You are 42 now, married and you are a mum to three pretty amazing kids who are all happy and healthy and deep down I know that is all you ever want from life.
So when you find out in a few days time that you didn’t get the O level results you wanted, don’t sweat it. Who needs maths anyway? Believe it or not in the future we all carry phones around (I know, imagine that, a phone that is mobile!!!) And they all have a calculator on them too so don’t panic.
Do learn from that incident last year never to play Risk with your dad again. Him being Taurean and all that. How long was it that he refused to speak to you when you beat him? A week? I would suggest you stick to backgammon.
Enjoy the nannying course you start next month but your tutor is right and maybe when you do that exchange trip to Germany next year don’t drink a bottle of Malibu and eat a whole Toblerone on the ferry. It won’t end well and it really isn’t appropriate behaviour for a future nanny.
You might also want to reconsider the falling in love with and getting engaged to the village butcher when you do start nannying. Nothing wrong with butchers but you are currently a vegetarian and continue to be one for a good few years so let’s face it, it really is doomed, isnt it?
And actually whilst I am talking to you about that first nannying job, two things to bear in mind. The first, when your boss’s dad decides to grope you in the the kitchen one day it really is okay to call him a “lecherous old git” and knee him in the nuts. You will feel guilty for years but don’t.
Nor must you feel guilty about the way you eventually leave that job. You will be made to work on your weekend off. A weekend when your dad is over from Germany to see you for the first time in ages. It will be the final straw and you will tell them to stick it. You will pack up your car and move out. Not before snatching your cookery book back from your boss who will be using it for a dinner party that night. There is no way you can leave Delia behind, again, don’t beat yourself up over it. It will feel great and is your way of sticking two fingers up to her and her git of a dad.
Your current boyfriend is also not the one for you. Listen to your dad. But don’t listen to him when he tells you that you cannot be the world’s first female formula one champion but should marry one instead. There still hasn’t been a female champion, so maybe it could have been you.
You have to go for it. Whatever “it” is every time you get the chance. You do some pretty amazing things as you get older. You even spend six years living in the middle east and working for royalty. You say “yes” to more than you say “no” to and that is great as it means that you get to try out all sorts of stuff that a lot of people might be too scared of doing. Keep doing that and don’t listen to people that say “You have no chance” as actually, you do.
Actually there IS one thing you shouldn’t do, despite being told to go for it. When you go to San Diego in a few years, don’t sunbathe topless on that apartment balcony. You might think nobody can see as you are on the top floor but you will be under the flight path for the Air Training Corps. You will stop air traffic and cause a mid air near miss. This will result in you getting a visit from somebody pretty senior who runs the air base and tells you to get dressed. He will have a gun. So best you don’t try and get an all over tan after all.
Do ignore all those so called friends at school, you won’t stay in touch with them. They don’t matter now. I know they are all being particularly spiteful a lot of the time and have you in tears but they are so irrelevant to you in later life that it honestly shouldn’t matter to you now. Ignore them. You end up with some great mates, seriously great mates, mates that are more like the sisters you never had. So forget those near you now.
Later in life there will be a thing called a website (no not spiders, your hatred of them will not subside). Websites are on computers that are all joined together by something called the World Wide Web. Every shop, every newspaper, every company, in fact almost everybody will have one and other people will be able to access them. Yes, computers will be in every house and everybody will have one, even your granny (yes granny is alive and well and lives not far from you). Even your phone will be a mini computer. In fact you yourself will have your own website and you will write stuff on it that people will read. Sorry, I am freaking you out now, I can tell.
I know I know, you can’t get your head around it all, just believe me. There will be something called “Facebook”. The idea is you can connect to people you know or have known and see what they are doing. That Mandy girl? The one that has been bullying you for years? You will be able to see that “She aint all that, girlfriend”. Sad, alone, living with a load of cats in a bedsit in Clacton. She will send you a message asking to be your friend. You will be able to press a button that says “decline” whilst in your head saying “get lost, bitch”.
So let it all go now. Don’t dwell on the bullies, kiddo. You are so much better than them.
After reading this letter go and give your mum a hug. She is more amazing than you give her credit for, as is your dad. You don’t realise just how amazing until you get a bit older so it wouldn’t hurt to go and say something now.
When you are twenty one you will also say goodbye to somebody important to you, somebody you will never forget but will think about often. Be strong, T. You are stronger than you know and it will be all right.
That strength is what will get you through life. I won’t lie. It isn’t going to be an easy one by any means. You will have a few years that you will look at afterwards and think “how the hell did I get through that”. The answer is, I don’t know how you got through them. But you will and you did. Everything that gets thrown at you you have dealt with, sometimes even with a smile on your face. That nickname of “granny” that you had back at the age of 11 when you still wore glasses and loved nothing better than to help people will become even more appropriate as you get older.
Oh and don’t worry about those Hush Puppy shoes for much longer. Your feet will always be as wide as a shoe box but you will find plenty of other shoes that you can wear. Burgundy lace ups will be a thing of the past. As will those burgundy cord peddle pushers your granny has just made you. Honestly T, go and get them out of your wardrobe now and burn them or they will haunt you for your entire life. And whatever you do, don’t wear them to that party your parents throw in a couple of weeks. That cute bloke turns up and you look a complete numpty in them.
Oh and I don’t know how to tell you this but George Michael? Please stop fantasising that one day he will sweep you off your feet. That is a more ridiculous notion than I can begin to explain. Let’s just say that it really is more about him than it is about you.
Don’t bother “going out on the pull” as you wont meet your husbands (yes it’s plural I am afraid) on nights out in places such as Club Tropicana in Colchester. Both of them you will meet when you least expect it and when you aren’t even looking. That said you might want to make more of an effort when you do go out to pubs. Going out with paint in your hair in 2002 wearing a denim shirt with Eeyore on the breast pocket is not a good look for anybody, even one decorating a spare room. It is a wonder that chap Bruce that you talk to gives you a second glance, let alone goes on to propose to you in Florence a few years later.
But I am starting to say too much. I don’t want to divulge too much of what happens as I don’t want you to change a thing but if you want to see the letter you write to the 30 year old you then have a look here “Dear 30 year old me“. But I really don’t want 16 year old you to avoid certain situations. Don’t regret anything. Ever. There is a saying that “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” and actually T you are one of the strongest people you will ever know.
You need to start realising that now, and not when you are in your forties.
Just keep on being you kiddo and you won’t go far wrong.
If I could tell you just one thing it would be to learn to love yourself just a little bit more.
Lots of love
You aged 42
You were delightful at 16. Caring, thoughtful, interested and interesting. Mostly your sense of humour sparkled on everyone around you and brightened up our lives. You brought sunshine into every room with you but yes, you definitely needed to love yourself much more and be kinder to yourself. All teenagers need to be a tad self-centred to survive so a dose of that would Not have gone amiss. You also wrote brilliant letters.
We knew you would become this amazing woman you are today. I’m immensely proud of knowing you and calling you my ‘friend’ on FB.
Oh Dorie, thank you. You have no idea how proud I am to have you as a Fairy Godmother. Your comment made me weep. I miss you and do hope we get to meet up one day soon. xxx
This is awesome Tanya!! A brilliant way to get a dose of nostalgia, and look philosophically at the mistakes that make you ‘you’!! I loved it.
Thanks so much Helen!
Sat with tears in my eyes Tanya. Lovely post and oh so true and meaningful.
Sense a connection with you again on various fronts.
Great post altogether.
Thank you Kate. Means a lot xxx
What a brilliant letter! Funny and heartwarming. It sounds like you have been through a lot in your life but have come out of it all with a strong sense of humour and a great awareness of yourself. That, in itself, is a real achievement let alone all the other things you have achieved. Your 16 year old self would be very proud (and slightly in awe) of you I think.
haha thank you. I think my 16 year old self would be a bit baffled to be honest!!
Threebecomefour says that T16 could be slightly in awe of T42: “could” – ? that’s entirely the wrong phrase! We’re ALL in awe of T42 like we are in awe of C.Fry Esquire.
awww thanks Papa Jim
That is brilliant. Mine would be shorter and more demanding, as I would threaten myself with extreme violence if I ignored my words of wisdom.
“Life is not a fight. Don’t approach it that way. In a couple of years you will meet a tall, dark and hilarious Liverpudlian. Don’t go looking for fireworks. He’s your best friend, and that’s fine in a boyfriend. It’s how it should feel, idiot. Hang on for dear life. It’s him and always will be.
Your Nanna Pat is the woman who can help you make sense of who you are, and she lives in Lancaster. Go find her, make her family and tell her your Dad is a son she can be proud of. You will be glad you did.
When you have kids, love every giggling, sickly, screaming, silly, heartening, heartbreaking, puking, glorious minute. Go everywhere with them as if it were the biggest adventure in the world. They grow up ridiculously fast and you will miss it more than you ever thought possible.
Do these three things and there’s nothing more to bother yourself about: you and your future will be just fine.”
What a perfect letter!
*wipes a little bit of moisture from left eye*
Funny, brilliant, moving, nostalgic and inspiring me to write something similar. Thank you x
Thank you! If you do write it, please come back and link up!
sorry for lowering the tone of the comments, but you really had me at the picture! I LOVE IT! I want to cuddle your young self
aww thanks Mrs! That pic is me aged about 11. Can’t find one of me aged 16. Will consider myself cuddled.
I loved this, as I already told you. It is beautiful, funny and very poignant. If only we could really do this, how different our lives might be.
You’ve inspired me! I will have a think about this one…
Thanks so much!! Trouble is, I am not sure I really would change anything, even with the benefit of hindsight. Do link up if you get to write yours, would love to read it.
Sadly the only photo of me aged 16 I have burgundy hair and I can’t find it anywhere (been looking for it for years). People don’t believe me when I tell them that I could have subbed for Nick Rhodes in Duran Duran…great blog…makes me think of what I would tell my 16 year old self and there are definite things I would change…maybe I’ll do that later. Thanks for the inspiration!
I love this letter! I’m actually going to give it to my nearly-fifteen year old daughter to read as well. (Hopefully, she’ll take note of the ‘hug your mum’ bit…I quite fancy swapping a couple of the surly looks for the hugs we used to have all the time!)
I’m now thinking about all the things I’d say to 16yo me… Lose the hockey-boots-for-black-tie-shoes would be first up, I think!
I have no idea why, but I am sitting here reading this with tears in my eyes. Maybe because so much of this advice, I could apply to my own 15-year old self.
Although they do say that advice, like youth, is probably just as wasted on the young… and I do wonder how much advice my teenage self would have taken (I knew everything already, right?). Hindsight really is a wonderful thing 🙂
Awww thanks Sarah.
Yes, advice is wasted on teh young. And if I had listened to advice I wouldn’t have done the things that make me me, I guess