Letter To My Sixteen-Year Old Self
I came across this writing exercise from two years ago, and I found myself reading it with fresh eyes again.
You are so caught up right now in studying for exams so that you will get to university. Don’t worry, you will make it! But, it won’t be quite what you were expecting. Now you are top of the class in school, but just wait til you get to college – girl you are in for a bit of shock. You won’t be top of the class anymore and this will shake your confidence. But remember, this life’s early winners often fall away. Your time will come.You have talents that will lie undiscovered for many years, because you judged yourself by a rigid standard of IQ. EQ is yet to be written about..but you are developing it right now.
And don’t worry, it won’t all be studying – you are about to meet your first serious boyfriend and he is going to be lovely. Although you will break up two years later, you will remain friends, and he will always be a special part of your life. You won’t believe this, but you are going to leave this special guy for someone else, a tall, dark, handsome stranger (yes, they really do exist in real life) who you will fall madly, deeply in love with and plan to spend the rest of your life with….except it won’t work out that way. He will break your heart and you will think you will never love again. You will..but it will take time for you to find your Mr Right. And here’s a tip, he won’t be what you expect at all – he won’t be tall, or dark, but he will be kind and generous and he will make you laugh and he will stick by you through some very dark times.
Ah, the dark times..I wish I could save you from them..truly I do.
Now take a look at yourself in the mirror…You are so young and so lovely and the tragedy is you don’t realize how beautiful you are. I know you are pleased with your figure, if not your face (you think it’s too chubby – but you will wish to have that fullness in your face back again believe me!) but make the most of it now, because see those perky breasts – you will lose one of them in later years to breast cancer. Yes, breast cancer. It’s incredible isn’t it, to think that you will have to face something only older women get (you’re wrong there!) when you are still a young woman. But, don’t be afraid. It will be a tough road, but you will find a strength you never knew you had to get through it and eventually it will take your life in a whole new wonderful direction. Just you wait and see.
Now, comes the hardest part to tell you, yes, even harder than cancer. I wish I could prepare you for what it will be like, but I am sorry, there is no way to prepare you for it. Your Mum, who you fight with now like all teenage girls, the one you take for granted, and who doesn’t understand you (or so you think) she will become your best friend. She will see you through relationship break ups, lovingly nurse you through cancer, and be there for you unfailingly and with unconditional love through many of life’s ups and downs. You will discover a deep love for her and when she dies your heart will be broken. You will feel a pain so deep you will think you will never survive it. So please treasure her as much as you can right now, tell her you love her, ask her more about her life, you really will regret it if you don’t. I don’t know if you will ever get over losing her, but I do know one thing though, you have come through tough times before, and so I want you to hold on and know that you truly do have the strength you need to get through anything that life throws at you – even if it won’t always feel like it.
Oh and one last thing…stop being so serious about everything. Right now you have so little to fret about..right now, life is just one big adventure waiting to happen – be fearless and grab all the opportunities you can.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you would say to your own sixteen-year old you?
I remember this exercise from the WEGO writing prompt challenge in April, 2012. I haven’t pulled up yet what I wrote, but I like what you said about not fretting so much. Life is an adventure, and at 16 there are so many crossroads and opportunities. I would challenge my 16-year-old self to explore more of these options and have more self-confidence in my abilities as well as in my appearance. Thanks for bringing this topic to the forefront and for helping us to see more clearly what we can do now with the wisdom we’ve gained over the ensuing years, and in my case, decades. xxx
You have a great memory Jan! I love your advice too x
This is so lovely and poignant. I would tell my 16-year-old self many of the same things, about treasuring my mom while I have her and not realizing I was beautiful. I see so many young girls who don’t realize how beautiful they are and I wish I could tell them. The one thing I would add is I would tell myself you will lose poetry but you will find it again (or maybe it will find you). Thank you for a great post and for inviting us to chime in (but then, you always do). XOX
Thank YOU Jackie 🙂 you’ve just reminded me how having to learn poetry for examinations at school made me hate poetry – but look at how I love it now after all these years.
I would have never guessed you hated it once! Glad you came around 😉
Thanks for sharing this Marie- my 15 year old son is experiencing some hard times and I wish his amazing future self could send him a letter. I participated in an exercise like this a few years ago from KNOWORTHY asking breast cancer patients to write themselves a letter – I’m sharing it here for anyone who might find it helpful. http://knoworthy.com/breast-cancer-stories-cancer-will-something/
This is such an inspiring post. I read it thinking how we often neglect what we have looking to far ahead or behind wishing we had something else. We have to hit rock bottom sometimes, which generally involves poverty, health or death, to realize how good times actually are and how we need to appreciate them. Not wish for more, although it is human. I think you are incredible and reading this made me remember again where my darkest times were, how life is filled with opportunity now and how finding those things we should be grateful for is important.
Marie, this post made me cry. It’s so achingly beautiful and filled with wisdom. Sometimes I wish we had this wisdom at a very young age, but I guess that’s reserved for when we get older.
Thanks Beth and Cara for taking the time to read this and share your thoughts x
Thank you for sharing this. I often think of my inner child, not so much my younger self. About things I would say to her, to save her and make her grow faster. To avoid her pain. Well, as it turns out, I did face my inner child, in two dreams I had. And to my surprise she told me I was the one who needed to change. How crazy is that, huh?
But in all seriousness, every stage comes with challenges and special lessons. We somehow cope because we are built to adapt/adjust to situations. But it would be lovely if we could get a warning about a lot of things. But not sure if that would make life so exciting, if we knew the outcome about everything. Hmmm…yeah why not. I wouldn’t mind knowing a few things in advance.
Rebecca – what a great comment and I love the reminder to take care of our inner child 🙂