A letter to my sixteen year old self

Dear Emma,

I’d like to share a few things with you – things you need to know. I know you won’t believe me but …

it all works out okay

1. I’m going to say that again, because I know you won’t believe me. It’s all okay in the end.

2. There are ups and there are downs, but the ups make up for the downs. And the downs teach you to be kind to other people and understand that we’re all just people, and we all have ‘soft’ spots.

3. Your mum is going to be your role model. You might not believe it right now, but no person on earth (except maybe your Nana and Gramps and your Dad) loves you more. What you’re feeling isn’t anger, it’s guilt that she gives everything to you and you’ve got no way of ever being able to pay her back except by making her proud of you. That’s what the best mums do. And don’t worry about making her proud of you. She will be. She is, even if you cut the top off a boiled egg.

4. Your sister is going to be your best friend. I know you can’t see that now, but you will. I know she sees you as some weird oddity, and you can’t see past her popularity and shell suits (yes, Abi!) but you will, and no-one will ever make you smile more than she does.

5. Don’t worry about your popularity. You’ll look back and realise you didn’t have a ‘best’ friend because you don’t work like that. And that’s fine. You have lots of friends and your skill is adapting to different groups. That’s a strength. Treasure it.

6. You have the best skin ever. Fact. It will never be as beautiful as it is now. And keep the alabaster look. You don’t know it yet, but you’re saving yourself from wrinkles. It’s all good.

7. Don’t worry about your weight. All girls worry about their weight. It’s pointless. You’re perfect.

8. Keep reading. I know Mrs Skinner thinks you’re crap at English, but that’s just because you’re not confident yet. You will be. And just because she doesn’t like Wilfred Owen doesn’t mean anything. You like him. He will make you cry over and over and do you know what? Her opinion is for shit. You’re not confident yet because she knocks the stuffing out of you with every comment she writes. Mrs Trethewey got you. She’ll be your teacher role model in years to come. Value what she says, not what that uber-icy-bitch says. Miss Dawson gets you too. Treasure her, and Miss Mullineaux and Mrs Kerr, because those teachers are the ones that you’ll be like: quirky and intelligent and caring and strict when they need to be.

9. Keep writing. You are good at it, no matter what she says. I know how hard you work for those Bs, and that you feel like you have to work twice as hard to be thought of as half as good, but one day, people will ask you how to write.

10. Don’t worry about other people’s opinions of you. There are a lot of messed-up people in the world and if they don’t like you, it’s no biggie. Nobody says you have to like everybody. Hell, you don’t like anybody.

11. Weird is fine. Weird is good. Be weird. It’s what you are. This is where you get confident, so go for it.

12. I know you don’t know what to do yet. Try teaching. It’s who you are. But don’t forget, half of your teachers were shite. Remember Mr Mulroy? Some of the people you will work with will be like Mr Mulroy. Some of them will have been made into head teachers and deputy heads. Don’t forget: being in a position of power doesn’t mean that they deserve respect. Respect is earned. Don’t be afraid to get the hell out of dodge if the going gets tough. You aren’t a one-man army and you can’t fight them on your own. They will bring you to your knees with their stupidity and ineptitude. Move on and remember, that’s just human nature.

13. You’re naturally artistic and creative. It doesn’t make you weird. It makes you cool. Go with it.

14. Know that your miseries are all superficial. Big troubles will come, but you’ll be fine. And each time, you learn a little.

15. Enjoy every moment of your family and friends. They’re what make life worth living.

4 thoughts on “A letter to my sixteen year old self

  1. Well done 🙂 There will be a lot of readers that this resonates for. It’s true – stick to weird because that’s where the important things are for you, and some time in your mid-twenties, it dawns on you that the whole village is actually rather proud of you.

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