Dear 16 year old Lucy,
I see you surrounded by your ‘Summer 2009 To-Read’ pile with a frown of concentration on your face as you try to work out what the actual fuck E.M Forster is on about. Please put Forster down and read me instead.
I know that right now you are unhappy because you’ve had your first break-up and that you are frightened about receiving your up-coming exam results and sitting your Highers next year. I’m guessing that you are probably in pain too because those braces are a bitch. I hope this letter will cheer you up.
I am writing to you to offer some grown-up advice and pearls of wisdom. I know that you are currently obsessed with The Gilmore Girls so I have even written it in a Rory Gilmore-style list; you could even stick it up on your ‘Inspiration Wall’ (although btw that is kinda lame).
- Stop freaking worrying about your exam results. Standard Grades don’t matter and in a few years’ time you will forget what you actually got.
- Give up trying to read all the books on the list your English teach gave you. Just read To Kill a Mockingbird, The Wasp Factory and David Copperfield, pick one to write about and boom. No one likes a brown noser.
- Stop wasting your pocket money on The Guardian on a Saturday. It won’t help you get any better at close reading and you can read that shit online for free. On the other hand, keep buying Cosmopolitan because that is informative.
- You have just discovered the taste of wine and yes, it is delicious. However, get a lid on the whole ‘getting drunk and crying thing’ because it’s the worst type of drunk to be.
- Your heart might be broken right now but you will get over it. You will have your heart broken many times in life and every time it hurts but bit by bit it gets better and you go through the whole cycle all over again.
- Boys are great but they are also kinda stupid. You shouldn’t fixate on them too much because they sure as hell are not fixating on you. Also, relationships are nothing like they are in The Notebook okay?
- It is okay to keep secrets and by that I mean your inner-most ones. Don’t give too much of yourself away.
- Spend more time with your friends and don’t be so hasty in pushing them away. Don’t give up on people when they are distant. It doesn’t mean that they don’t like you anymore; it means that they are going through a rough patch and they are going to need you when they come out the other side. Friends are more important than boys and that is the cardinal rule.
- Yes, fifth year is going to be hard but guess what you will get through it. Yes, studying is important but it is honestly not the be-all and end-all. There is such a thing as studying too much and you are a classic case study.
- Stop worrying about the future. I know, I know, you can’t help it that your face is permanently creased with worry but when you’re lying in bed at night don’t waste precious sleeping time panicking about the future. Sleep is the best.
If you haven’t guessed already: this is your future self writing to you. Hello from summer 2016! Before you ask; no we do not have a high-powered career, an awesome apartment in the city or a hot boyfriend and child on the way. You gave up on that dream years ago. I am actually, in a bizarre turn of events, living back at home, working six jobs and struggling to work out what it is I am doing with my life. But I tell you this: I am not sad. I am a bit frightened and frustrated perhaps but I know that things will work out in the end. The most precious pearl of wisdom I can give you my sweet sixteen year old self is this: no one likes a permanently unhappy person.
It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true: life is short and you have to make the most of it. So give up on Forster, purely because he’s writing about things you won’t understand until you re-read the book in 2016, call your friends and spend tonight taking ridiculous pictures, trawling Bibo and laughing at the sex positions in Cosmo.
Lots of love,
Your future self