Saturday, 28 November 2009
A Letter To My Sixteen-Year-Old Self
Dear 16 year old Me,
I know you don't weigh yourself right now, because you are tall and slim so it makes you look like a beanstalk (just ignore your brothers when they say that, they'll get bored of it one day) but as you get older you will become tall and fat and that's much harder to deal with. Start weighing yourself now and do something about it when you see when the extra pounds appear. Look after yourself, because guess what? Nobody else is going to do it for you. Yup, the buck stops with you.
Enjoy being tall. Wear heels more often and don't slouch. People will look at you for all the wrong reasons for slouching, but for the right reasons for your height. And I know you won't believe this but short people will be envious of you in the long run, honest.
OK this is a biggie: Dad will never be proud of you. Nor will he ever be impressed by anything you do. Accept that now and you will avoid a lot of heartache in the future. And while I'm on the subject of Dad get some counselling or therapy about it - it might help you to avoid picking the wrong type of men to have doomed relationships with. Mum, of course, is a different kettle of fish altogether. Cherish the time you have with her - learn from her, talk to her about her childhood more. And ask her to write down all her best recipes - one day you will kick yourself for not thinking of this!
One day there will such a thing as laser eye surgery - get it done as soon as it comes out and don't wait until your forties. Of course it will be expensive but it'll be worth every penny.
Don't play it too safe - take the occasional mad risk, or do something outrageous. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter what other people might think. Go on, you know you want to.
Don't believe a man when he says he is separated from his wife, he probably isn't. Or that his wife doesn't understand him, because she probably knows him only too well. And don't believe him when he says he is only going on holiday with her for the sake of the kids. He's not.
Never, ever marry a man who doesn't respect his mother. The way a man treats his mother is the way he will treat you one day. Although hang on, you will end up having his two daughters who will bring you a great deal of happiness, so go ahead and marry him. But follow your instincts and chuck him out three days after your second baby is born instead of waiting for another three years. You'll manage better on your own. Trust me on this one.
Learn to swim! It'll make such a difference to your summer holidays.
At 16 you'll be thinking of the type of career you should do in the future and believe me you'll wish you'd spent more time thinking about this. You will spend so much of your life at work that it should be something you enjoy doing. Don't take any notice of the careers advisor who is a completely short-sighted, but well meaning, traditionalist who thinks girls can only be nurses or secretaries. Look carefully at your options or you will spend the next 25+ years floating from one thing to another before finding the thing that you are really good at: working with children. Think about teaching, because one day you'll realise how satisfying it can be, but also investigate how to become a child psychologist. One day you will wish you had.
I hope you learn to like yourself more, because deep down you're a good person. Good luck.
What would you say to yourself at sixteen, knowing what you know now?
* Proceeds from the book go towards the Elton John Aids Foundation.