5 Things I’d Tell My Sixteen Year Old Self

So this is a new thing I’m trying out. It’s called Free Space Friday, where I’ll be posting random blog stuff about various embarrassing things that have happened to me, stuff on mental health, uni life, and other general things which pop into my head. If you feel like nudging me towards writing about a particular thing, feel free to drop me a comment or email and let me know what you think.

Dear Sixteen Year Old Me,

Things are probably pretty hectic for you right now. You’re in the middle of taking a bunch of exams and things which everyone around you keeps patiently repeating is going to DETERMINE YOUR WHOLE FUTURE. While they have a point, it’s probably best if you know now that these exams aren’t the biggest deal in the whole world and you’re going to do fine in them in any case.

Anyhow, that’s not why I’m writing to you. Since I understand the concept of time travel almost not at all, I’m not actually sure of the chances of this reaching you, but I’m guessing they’re very slim. That’s okay though. Let’s ignore physics and pretend that I have somehow been successful at contacting you.

  1. First of all, you’re going to spend a lot of time in the future getting coffee with people.

You’re currently two years from legally being able to drink, and you’re still in your house party stage right now. You probably can’t imagine a future where you’re passing up those bars and nightclubs you’re not yet allowed in [not for a lack of trying] for coffee meet-ups, but I promise you I’m not lying. You’re going to get really good at the coffee and catch-up. You’ll realize it’s because most of the people you choose to hang out with are caffeine obsessed, and at the very least they can always order tea or, god forbid, a juice. You will silently judge each friend on their order, and you’ll also spend a large portion of this time wondering if you should have ordered cake. The answer, as always, is yes. Don’t worry about this though. You’ll tell yourself that you should be more exciting, and you should brave a night out once in a while, and it probably won’t kill you, but future-you knows that her blood is already 90 percent caffeine, and I’m fairly sure adding alcohol into that mix isn’t advisory. Also, it means that you have an easy socializing option which most people can agree to without having to arrange taxis home, and they’re much less likely to end up vomiting out of your kitchen window after an Earl Grey or two.

2. You’re still not going to have your life figured out.

Yeah, I see you, sitting on the sofa in your house, munching popcorn and laughing at the fact that the adults on Friends and Girls still don’t have their shit together. You think that, because you’re ambitious, and you’ve revised and you have a Plan for the future, things are going to work out fine. I hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Future-you might have gone to university, and she might have a degree, but she still hasn’t got her shit figured out yet. She still wants to be an author, and she does still write, but she also has a bunch of interests and skills which don’t quite coherently add up to a particular job. Future you will be alarmed by this, especially when it means she has to spend three hours motivating herself to check her bank balance, but she’s also fairly successful in an ambiguous way. Don’t despair. Maybe when you get this, you’ll also simultaneously receive a letter from your Future-26 year old self, and she will actually have her shit together. HAHAHAHA

3. Going to uni = still not an adult

Poor, foolish you. Somewhere along the way, some wicked person has wrongfully informed you that going to university is the secret key to becoming a responsible adult, and you’ll spend your time there working hard, eating healthily and doing all the amazing sports and societies you saw on the prospectus stuff, but which are too expensive or niche for your high school. Once again, you need to have a long hard think about why on earth you’re so damn gullible sometimes. Future-you is still going to be eating cookies from Lidl for lunch, spending too much time on Netflix [you don’t have this yet, but trust me, it’s one of the best additions to your life so get ready], and faking a headache whenever her boyfriend asks if she wants to go to the gym. Sometimes you’ll think this is a huge problem, and you’ll question why you can’t be more like those people who can do things like keep plants alive, host dinner parties for friends, not spend all their money on books, and not miss a single lecture because they’re too lazy or hungover to get out of bed. Ignore that instinct, please. Adulthood is a grey area for most people, and it involves a lot of things you might not know about yet, but I promise you that you won’t get your adulthood badge by being able to perfectly pair your cheese with some wine.

4. You’ll learn to love your body and self.

This is a big deal for you right now. You’re starting to get those hips, the ones which somehow seem to knock everything over in stores without you actually feeling it. You’re also starting to realize that those hips are preventing you from comfortably wearing that huge collection of skinny jeans you own [mostly because the button will pop off if you try it]. You’re starting to wear make-up to school to hide the acne, and there’s going to be a very long period between good hair days. That’s fine though. Future you still isn’t entirely comfortable with her body. There are moments when she looks in the mirror and tells herself that she needs to cut down on the chocolate because her belly is all floppy and her thighs are too big, but for the most part, she’s come to accept that everyone is different, that those magazines and celebrity pictures you keep being subjected to are a bit of a sham, and that immature, catty high-school thing of calling people out and shaming them for being different weirdly ends in high school. Similarly, you’re currently the geek of your year, not quite fitting in comfortably with any particular group. You feel a bit isolated and alone, but once you reach university, you’ll soon realize that you’re not quite so alone, and there are other people there who will embrace you for being your wonderful, eccentric self. You’ll love these friends you make, and through them, you’ll learn to love yourself too.

5. A perfect romance is just as likely to involve lazing around in bed in PJs at 2pm, eating chocolate raisins and watching Pokemon as it is jetting off to Paris for romantic weekends.

This is another situation you’re probably going to laugh at and tell yourself isn’t true, but here it is. At the moment, you’re too busy swooning over cheesy tv shows and rom-coms to understand how they’re brain-washing you. The idea of someone whisking you off to Paris on a whim and feeding you macarons while professing his undying love on the Eiffel Tower is still a secret dream, but you’re also going to learn that this isn’t realistic. It doesn’t mean that the person doing this grand romantic gesture is right for you, or even a good person. You’re old enough already to be over Twilight and you can now see why Edward breaking in and watching Bella sleep is not cute like the books try and make it sound, but creepy af. So you’re starting to see beyond the haze of BS. Good. Future-you is here to tell you that a good, healthy romance will likely involve you doing things you thought you were way too old and mature enough to do, like cuddling up and watching Pokemon in bed, or having an ice-cream fight or doing silly dances to terrible music, but I can promise you that this is the true recipe to a great romance. It means you’re with a partner who truly knows you and cares for you, and it means you remember what it is like to throw back your head and laugh that awful giggly, goofy laugh of yours without worrying about looking stupid. Try not to concentrate too much on what other people have, or where they are with their lives and relationships. It doesn’t do you a bit of good to worry that you’ve been single for six whole months and that probably means you’re going to die in a house you share with your one thousand cats, and it doesn’t do you any good to worry where a relationship is headed or if you should stay with a person even if they’re wrong for you [most of them will be] because you’d miss having a person who is legally obliged to go see that movie with you even though they know they’ll hate it. Most of those people you’ll envy over the years will argue and fall apart, get divorced and start having passive-aggressive digs at each other over social media between the darling baby photos. You’ll find the right person at the exact moment that you calm down about being single and stop looking, and I can almost guarantee that this person will be the one who treats you like an equal, not a princess they need to rescue and appease. Grand romantic gestures are cute, and you’ll probably never quite lose that deep-down hope you’ll get to experience one for yourself, but in all honesty, they really are overrated.

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