Saturday, 28 November 2009

A Letter To My Sixteen-Year-Old Self


While I was out shopping today I had a quick look through this book (and later ordered it from Amazon)*.  It's a book of letters written by various celebrities (the ubiquitous Stephen Fry, Yoko Ono, Fay Weldon, Joanna Lumley, Rolf Harris and loads of others) to their sixteen-year-old selves.  It's an interesting idea and caught my imagination, so much so I thought I'd have a go at it myself. 
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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.

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What would you say to yourself at sixteen, knowing what you know now? 

* Proceeds from the book go towards the Elton John Aids Foundation.

26 comments:

Heather said...

aww man, there is just too much to tell myself.

Josie @Sleep is for the Weak said...

This is soooo lovely. Do you mind if I use your idea for a prompt in my writing workshop next week?
x

notSupermum said...

Heather - go on, you can do it!

Josie - hi there. No of course not, I'd be delighted!

rosiescribble said...

Fasinating and a brilliant idea. There is so much I would say to myself aged 16. I think it would all be quite depressing though. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Thankfully I'm so much happier 20 years on.

Hot Cross Mum said...

I love this idea and you have written your letter so well. What advice would I give myself - hmmm, a tricky one. Very inspiring.

Mum's Survival Guide said...

That is a great idea for a post. Not sure what I would say to myself looking back.

notSupermum said...

Rosie, hindsight IS wonderful isn't it? I think as long as we learn from our experiences then all is not lost.

Hot Cross Mum - thank you. Hope you have a go at writing your own version.

Mum's Survival Guide: I imagine it would help if you had a photo of yourself at 16 to inspire you. Happily, I didn't inflict mine on you all!

Nicola said...

Oh I love this. Your letter to yourself is so revealing. Particularly love the advice about never being with a man who doesn't treat his mother well. That is so bloody true, as I have also found out a little too late. Should have been a HUGE warning sign.

Will definitely be giving this some thought and possibly blogging about it this week. Inspiring.

liv said...

I'd tell myself to move out of the U.S. before the Bush administration.

Audi said...

Ah, but your 16-year-old-self would never listen to your advice. The real question is, what do you want to tell your FUTURE self, the one who has time to act on what you say? I'll bet she's a much better listener...

sallymandy said...

Ah, this is wonderful. Thank you for passing on the idea about this, and then your own letter to yourself.

I know you also have young daughters, and I have one about the same age--almost 13. Now would maybe be a good time for this letter to ourselves exercise as I head into the teenage years.

Wow. Never marry a man who doesn't respect his mother. So true. My hubby does not respect his mother, and though I know he loves me, this is definitely an issue with us. A little black monster emerges with her name on it, aimed at moi.

Thanks.

sallymandy said...

Forgot tos ay: thanks for your recent visit! Nice to hear from you.

notSupermum said...

Nicola, I'm glad you found some truth in there - the bit about his mother was realised, like you, after years of bitter experience.

Liv - thanks for visiting! Yes, but would you also say it would only be until Obama came in?

Audi - oh yes! You're right, I'm going to have to think about that.

Sallymandy - hello, lovely to see you here. Yes, our girls are the same age - 13 - and I'm thinking of doing something similar for The Teenager. Thing is, will she take heed? Probably not.

Emily O said...

I had a post like this planned, like you I saw the book and was inspired! Will try and write mine this week and link to you. I think it's a great idea.

Linda said...

Thought this was a beautiful post written with compelling honesty, I don't know if I could be that brave.

notSupermum said...

Emily - I look forward to reading your letter. Thanks for visiting.

Linda, thanks for the comment. Perhaps it's not the fact you can't write it honestly but that you can't bear to? I'd love to read yours, you write so beautifully.

Looking Fab in your forties said...

I love this! I would tell myself to stop smoking before I become hooked and to never take any shit off a man!

Kelloggsville said...

What catharcism - good for you! I would say stop smoking, go to church and start having babies now. ( I was 30 before I realised any of this and wish I'd done them all a lot earlier!)

deep post and thank you x

Kelloggsville said...

As a quick follow up - I avoided reading this post for a while as I was rather scared of how it would make me feel (from the title) and actually it was really very cool, thanks x

The Small Fabric Of My Life said...

I love your letter. I have th ebook and I used it as the basis of a writing workshop at the prison a few weeks ago.
It was also discussed on Radio 5 last week and someone suggested your 16-year-old self writing back to you.

notSupermum said...

Looking Fab: great advice, glad I've never smoked but have taken plenty of shit of men in my time.

Kellogsville, thanks for the lovely comments. I did find it quite cathartic, and keep thinking about some of the things I put in the letter.

Small Fabric/Jane - I'm waiting for the book to arrive from Amazon and looking forward to reading it thoroughly. Wow, not sure about the 16 year old writing back - that would be quite hard to do I think. Have you tried to do it?

getting stuff done said...

am glad you left a comment - I thought you had stopped blogging and I love your blog.....

god. that was a really honest letter. I don't even know if I could write one like that. I will think about it though and maybe I will get around to it.

Dear me. 16. Oh dear. What was I like then! stop drinking so much cider and stop wearing so much make up I think could be a good start!!

Yummy Mummy said...

Oh I absolutely love this! I may too have to borrow. What a great idea. I really had no idea at 16! xx

notSupermum said...

Getting stuff done - thanks, glad you came for a visit!

Yummy Mummy - oh yes, please do, I'd love to read your letter.

KittyB said...

'Never marry a man who does not respect his mother'-they should teach that in schools. So obvious and yet so easy to ignore. I've had a go at my own letter too. AKA cheap therapy!

Stigmum said...

Brilliant!