Wednesday, 11 April 2012

In which I write a letter to myself, aged sixteen

When I started this blog, I was in a confusing place. Newly single for the first time in, well, ever, I had a lot of soul searching to do. I called it Goodbye Ruby Tuesday because I felt I was at a major turning point in my life, saying goodbye to the girl I had been for so long and saying hello to... someone new. I didn't know then who that person would be.

A little over a year on, I feel like a whole new woman. It wasn't long ago that I told Forces Wife I felt I was "still making all the same old mistakes", but I finally feel as if I'm growing up. And with that new found sense of wisdom, I thought I'd tackle something I have been wanting to do for a while... a letter to my sixteen-year-old self:

Dear R*,

You're sixteen, and you think you're a grown up, so I know you're not going to listen to a single word I have to say. At 27, I am officially too old to "understand you" - it's all such a cliche, isn't it? Regardless, I'm about to tell you a few things that will make your life a whole lot easier:

You're not going to do that well in your GCSEs. I know, awful right? Well, not really... sure, mum will go mental (more on this later) but let's face it, you're pretty lazy and you're not that interested in most of your subjects. But don't worry, you'll pull it out the bag for your A-Levels. Having done next to no work this time around, you'll work really hard for those and get the grades you need to get to your first choice university. (Drop biology the first chance you get though - a D at AS-Level is worth about two beans to the university admissions board, and you'll get more free periods to play UNO with Forces Wife work on your Psychology coursework.)

This year, you will meet your first love. He's wonderful. You will have some wonderful times together, and some mind-blowing sex. But remember, he's just your first love, he's not your only one. Between you, you'll royally screw it up in a couple of years. Enjoy it though - he does love you, you do love him, you're just young. Maybe consider breaking up before you start uni though. Just a suggestion.

I know that you and mum hate each other right now. This year will be the worst. It'll all start to improve when you turn 18, and you'll actually move back home for almost five years after university. (Seriously - houses are a lot more expensive than you imagine.) When you have your heart broken for real at 25, she will be your rock. Just remember this - she only wants what is best for you, but she is only human. She makes mistakes too.

The biggest mistake mum ever makes will have a disproportionate effect on your self esteem. Please try not to let it define you. If you take it to heart, it will take you more than ten years to deal with the repercussions. A few days after you get those disappointing GSCE grades, you'll both be going to see some very high achieving friends of yours and their mothers. Mum is embarrassed by your comparatively low grades. This is her issue, not yours. She will tell you to "make an effort" because "at least you're prettier than them" - the implication being, of course, that you are relatively lacking in all other areas. This comment will lead to you defining yourself by your looks for many years. One day in more than a decade's time, you will wake up and realise that you have been relying on men who do not deserve you at all to validate you. If you could realise this now, you'll save yourself a lot of misery and heartache.

On a related point - don't cheat. It will never, ever bring you happiness. You are ok on your own. Don't self destruct in that way - just end your floundering relationships the right way and move on. Maybe sleep with a couple less people too. The number of people you sleep with is nothing to be ashamed of... it's just... well, maybe just avoid the ugly ones, ok? And your university housemates. That ain't ever going to work out well.

Keep in touch with your friends. Someone you aren't that close to now will be your rock in the most difficult time of your life. In fact, aged 27, the vast majority of your close friends are people you already know. Treasure that. I don't know whether I should tell you this, but the man who you will love throughout your early twenties and who will eventually break your heart is also someone you know already. In fact, you snogged him quite recently. Yep. Him. It won't work out, but he will teach you so much about yourself. Be kind to him.

Generally, your life won't work out quite how you imagine. You'll have some setbacks at work - but you will be doing a job you enjoy and are good at, so just focus and move on. When you do eventually buy a house, it won't be with a man, and this might temporarily feel like a bad thing, especially when all your home-owning friends have done it with partners. But hey, you can't even imagine how good it will feel to do that all by yourself. You won't be married by 27, and yes, several of your friends will be, but you'll have an incredible man in your life and for now that's enough for you. And you won't be pregnant by 30... or at least I bloody well hope not!

So that's what you need to know. Respect yourself, be true to yourself, work hard, and have fun. It will all turn out ok.

Lots and lots of love,

R x

*Also, the blog name references Ruby Tuesday because she shares my initials. Oh yeah. Not just a pretty face.

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