And a vestige of my previous blog
This post is based on a Daily Post prompt: write a letter to your 14-year-old self.
Annie at What the Woman Wrote took up this challenge and her first letter Dear Annie, Part 1 reminded me that I had also written the first letter on my previous blog. I found the letter I wrote in 2012 and it touched me more than I expected so I decided to repost it here, unedited – despite my inner proofreader’s outrage. I added a 2015 update at the end as I felt I had forgotten a few things.
To my 14-year-old self,
I’m not sure how to start this letter; to be honest, it’s been a while since I last sent one. Nowadays people write e-mails, not letters, but I know you’re already into instant messaging and that kind of things. You’re going to love 2012! We have flying cars and the USA have a black president! What, you don’t believe me? Well, you’ll see for yourself in a few years!
Believe whatever you want, but we do have awesome computers and handheld game consoles with beautiful videogames that will make you forget about The Sims – by the way, are you still writing that guide on the 101 ways to kill Sims or are you too old for that? I guess you’re too old, but I only gave up on the Sims about two years ago.
Let me think about it. Fourteen… You just entered high school, then. How does it feel? Do you like it? Not the guys from your class, as I recall; not your German teacher either. Your English teacher is a bit weird but don’t let him step on your toes and keep up the good work!
Oh, I forgot; I hope you’re good enough to understand this letter. If not, you’d better get your dictionary because I’m about to write important things that will shape your future and, I hope, improve my past! Ready?
Okay, I know what I have to tell you, but it’s going to hurt a bit. I know there’s no easy way to do it, so… You need to get our parents to split. To get divorced. It probably isn’t what you expected from your future self, but you and I both know they’re on a wrong track. Better to stop it now, believe me.
You’re probably going to need some time to think about it, to think about the right way to tell them about it… There is no right way. The only right thing is telling them. You know it’s the right thing to do, and I know it’s what you wish for. You’re probably waiting for them to make that decision, but they won’t, unless you tell them to.
I know it’s not going to be easy. What if they don’t listen? What if they pretend that everything is okay? Well, you know it isn’t. Not between them, not between you and mum. You’re afraid, you don’t want to hurt them; but you have to. You have so much rage inside you, you need to get rid of it. I’m not saying you should yell at them – unless they refuse to listen – but telling them how you feel, and succeeding in what I am asking of you, will make you feel much better.
I know you often think about what it would be like if they got divorced. You listen to P!nk’s “Family Portrait” and always think that you want to split the holiday, that you want two addresses, that it could only make things better, and I still agree with that. Many children of divorced parents would probably hate me for writing that, but I think in our case, our parents would be happier if they followed different paths, and I think so would we.
Yes, I think so; I can’t promise we will – well, you will. I’m not unhappy, you know; I don’t cry everyday thinking about our parents, I’m just glad they finally split. Oh, yes, they did, but only after I had left home. Only after I had left the country. Where to, you wonder? Well, you’ll see; or maybe you’ll make a different choice, go to a different country, what do I know?
How would things be different if my parents had got divorced when I was in high school, or even in secondary school? Where would I have lived? How would my mother have turned out? I’m sorry, I’m writing my and I but I mean our and we. It’s just that, in a way, I feel like you still have a chance to change things, maybe not for us, but for yourself, in an alternate reality.
It’s funny, I really wasn’t going to bring this up. I have other regrets than not trying to make them split, you know. Things that affected me personally and which I hope won’t affect you. Things I can’t tell you about, because I feel that if I tell you about them, you will carry my regrets as well, and I don’t want that. I hope you won’t make the mistakes that I did, but if you don’t make these, you’ll make others, probably with as much impact as mine.
So I guess I should give you some advice… Well, I’ll try.
First, you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you don’t do drugs: that’s awesome, keep it that way. Don’t let anyone persuade you to do anything you don’t want to. You’re an honest girl, and I know you still feel guilty about that time when you stole chewing-gums just to know you could do it and got caught, or a few years later when you had to lie to a teacher because of something someone else did. You’re inherently good; please, don’t change.
Now, I know you’re hanging out with girls who already know what they want to do next year, and I know you’re going to want the same thing, because of your deranged French teacher and German classes you can’t stand. I know you’ll look at your grades and let them decide of your fate. Well, it isn’t fate, it’s your choice, and it has to be your choice.
You need to really think hard about what you want to do, and once you know it, you’re going to need to work hard to get there. I know in secondary school you only worked enough to get average grades, except in classes you really enjoyed. Now I’m asking you to do more, to do better than that, to prove to yourself that you can do better. I know you can, I just wish you knew you can.
I know you don’t work in classes you don’t like because you don’t see the point; the point is to get you to think, to help you understand the world you’re living in, and believe me, you’re going to need it. Whatever it is you’re doing in your free time, you don’t need to do it. Killing Sims is a waste of time, and you’ll watch Buffy when you can afford the boxsets and don’t need dubbing or French subtitles. And you’ll watch Firefly, too; trust me.
There are so many things I want to tell you, but I don’t want to reveal your future, and I can’t give you a neverending list of out-of-context advice. Please, just believe in yourself. Just ask your best friend: not so long ago, she told me that she thought I could do anything, everything, and I want you to believe her. I wish you were both in the same class, I’m sure it would make things easier for you, but I guess even you can’t change that. Maybe next year, then?
I’ve written over a thousand words to someone who will most certainly never read it – and the future tense seems like a stupid choice in this sentence, but I don’t think I can find a better tense to use. So I will stop writing and go on with my life without thinking about this again. If some divine power sent this letter to you and allowed you to make changes in our lifes, I still hope you’ll be where I am today. Maybe not exactly. Maybe not professionally. But there’s someone I really hope you’ll meet. Plus, two cats.
P.S.: you need a driver’s license! Really useful! … Please? I still don’t have one…
Dear 14-year-old me,
There is one piece of advice I forgot to include in my 2012 letter. I didn’t think of it at the time, but it is very important to me now and I have to share it.
Right now, it must seem like English is the only foreign language that will ever have a place in your heart. This isn’t true. It took me a lot of time, but I eventually fell in love with others – starting with German. Yes, you read that right – German. It is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but if you could make some room for it in your heart earlier than I did, it could make a huge difference for your 2015 self.
Also, when choosing an elective, don’t waste time with Advanced English. I know it sounds like something you would enjoy, but I really didn’t. Maybe you won’t get the same teacher as I did, and maybe you will enjoy it more than I did, but I can’t have you take this risk. If you can, choose a third foreign language instead, like Spanish, Italian, or Russian, all of which are taught at your school.
Also, whatever you decide, don’t minor in Japanese at the university – an elective is fine, but trust me, college will be hard enough without it. By the way, don’t pass on the opportunity to study abroad – I loved it! – but make sure to gather advice from other students who did the same before you go. Make it a point to explore, meet new people, make the most of your time in France and abroad, and don’t spend so much time on your computer.
Whether your focus remains entirely on English or gets split between two or more languages, please don’t give up on any of these languages afterwards, and make sure you get regular practice. Find people to write to and skype with, visit the countries where those languages are spoken, maybe do work placements or get an actual job abroad, etc. It will enrich your life, boost your confidence, and look good on your CV! It will also be useful for your future career, should you make the same choices that I did.
One last thing before I go: please, please learn to love and respect yourself. Learn to see your strengths and love them. Learn to see your weaknesses and work on them. Don’t let anyone be mean to you and get away with it, but don’t let trifles get to you. If people hurt you, they aren’t worth your time and certainly aren’t worth being sad or angry at. Don’t let strangers or people you don’t like ruin a perfectly fine day!
I guess that’s it for now. I wish I could tell you who to become or remain friends with and who to avoid at all cost, but I don’t think I should. I have to believe in fate: that you will meet the people you are meant to meet, and that the most important people in my life will be the same in yours. I know you will make mistakes – some of them the same as mine, others not. I know you will have regrets, but maybe you will learn to let go of them faster than I, and that really is the only thing I can wish you.
Your 2015 self
P.S.: you still need a driving licence, but don’t get a car – just hire one when you need it.
Featured image: Once I got a love letter by Pimthida on Flickr, cropped and resized by me.