Louisa and Amy are hard acts to follow, but here we go. This is my letter to my 16-year-old self.
Firstly, the boy who took this photo? He’s going to break your heart in two years’ time, so brace yourself. Don’t let him see how much he’s hurt you. In fact, I’d prefer you to get in first and do the dumping, but you won’t because you think you love him. You won’t believe it now, but six months after the big break-up you’ll meet someone who will become much more important and a year later you’ll marry him. Yes, it’s true, and 35 years on you’ll be playing with your grandchildren together. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? You’ll have lots of adventures along the way. You’ll even live in different countries for a while, but the time apart will only make you more determined to be together.
But let’s get back to the 16-year old you. You know that Australian pen-pal you’ve gradually been losing touch with over the last couple of years? The one you’ve been corresponding with since you were seven years old? Write to her. Keep in touch, because in 14 years you will move to Australia. I know that seems incredible, but you will, and wouldn’t it be great to be able to meet up with her?
Now, when your husband suggests moving to Australia, don’t take six months to make up your mind. Seriously, don’t. It will be the best thing you’ll ever do for you and your children, and the sooner you do it, the better. I know you’ll worry about leaving your good friends behind, but the amazing thing is that you will stay in contact with them, at first by letter, but later this amazing thing called the internet will be invented. You’ll be able to type a letter on your computer and it will pop up almost instantly on your friends’ computers on the other side of the world. Oh, that’s right, you don’t know what a computer is, do you? Well, trust me on this, okay?
One more thing – I know I sound bossy, but it’s something that comes with age and experience – start writing stories. You’ve always loved books and dreamed of being a writer. Well, the thing is, you can. Don’t believe that it’s something only other people can do, and don’t put pressure on yourself to get published. That pressure will come later, for now just write and enjoy it.
That friend who told you that you couldn’t sing was wrong. You need to ask yourself which of you passed the choir audition and why you’d let a jealous girl’s comments matter more than the choir leader’s opinion. Don’t avoid singing in public for years because you took that girl’s words to heart. Sing.
Those thunder thighs you think you have? You don’t. You were a chubby child but you grew out of that chubbiness and it will be years before you need to worry about being chubby again. Eat fudge. It will always be one of your favourite things.
You might not believe it now but your life is going to be a wonderful ride that keeps on getting better. It won’t be a smooth ride, but adversity brings its own gifts of strength and compassion. As you set out, I have every confidence in your resilience. Keep your sense of humour, it is your greatest asset.
Claire (the older, wiser, bossier one)
Claire, what a lovely letter. The wisdom age brings, eh? So glad to hear that your move to Australia has been so very successful!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Annie. I wouldn't live anywhere else.Delete
Gorgeous letter, Claire, full of wisdom. Isn't it funny how we believe the bad things (like a jealous girl saying we can't sing) over the good things (a choir teacher who says you can sing)? Thank heavens we do grow older and wiser.ReplyDelete
And it's fabulous that you not only moved to Australia (yay!), but kept in touch with all of your old friends too. I suspect that's quite an accomplishment. :-)
Thank goodness for the internet. I couldn't have envisaged Facebook when I left England for a new life in Australia. How the world has changed.Delete
Great letter, Claire. And I love that photo. Michelle's right, we do believe the wrong things about ourselves, especially when we're young and trying to fit in.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Sue. I don't have many photos of my teen self so it was a fluke that I had one as a 16-year-old.Delete
That is so lovely I remember often feeling very shy and scared because of things other girls said to me I have always been a big girl but these days I have learnt that people can take me the way I am and I am not trying to be something I am not for other people :)
Good to hear, Helen. It's a happier, healthier way of living, isn't it?Delete
Love the older, bossier you, Claire :-)ReplyDelete
If only they'd give crystal balls out to 16 year olds!
Very true, Amy. Balls would have been a big help. :)Delete
Hi Claire, boy, it's amazing how one thing that someone says stomps on your dreams for a long time, eh? I hope you sing heartily now and all the time and I hope you love it xxReplyDelete
Louisa, I sing The Wheels on the Bus, Row, Row, Row Your Boat and the Thomas and His Friends theme song. LOL.Delete
Great letter, Claire. I wish I could tell ALL sixteen year old people not to listen when someone tells them they can't do something. Thanks for sharing your letter :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Stefanie. If only we could.ReplyDelete
Claire, that's a gorgeous letter. And I'm with Stefanie - I wish we could tell all sixteen year olds some of these things.ReplyDelete
Do you sing now?
Well, Rachel, I do, but only in front of my grandson. He thinks I'm pretty good. :)Delete
Beautiful letter to your younger self, Claire. How wonderful that you met Mr Right after your heartbreak and made that leap of faith to make the journey to Australia!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Sharon. I consider myself very lucky.ReplyDelete
My daughter is 15. I wish I had wisdom to impart! I am still clueless!ReplyDelete