A Letter to My Younger Self
(Or were you Debbie back then? I can’t remember? Not Deborah anyway; never Deborah).
Scientist have recently proved that time travel isn’t possible, probably – science is never 100% sure is it? – something to do with a pear-shaped nucleus which means that time can only travel in one direction: that’s Dr Who out of the window then, and The Time Travellers Wife and a whole host of other stuff, but it also means you’ll never see this letter. And I do wish I could travel back in time and get this message to you.
Well, it’s embarrassing really. I can’t believe we’re related. I can’t believe that you were me, or I was you, or whatever way round it is. Some things don’t change though; it doesn’t take much to confuse us! I’d say LOL but you’d have no idea what that means and that makes me smile, and well, laugh out loud actually! You thought you knew so much back then didn’t you? You were so sure of so much. What you wanted to do; what you didn’t want to do as well. So damned self-righteous, full of good ideas and good intentions. Well, you were, what, 19, 20? Not exactly an idealist, but not far off. At odds with everyone, arguing a point even when you barely believed it yourself, just to be contrary. You were never a conformist, I’ll give you that, but you weren’t exactly a rebel rouser either were you? You had too much fear for that. I mean what was that all about, really? Why were you so scared of everything and everyone? Why did you try and hide the fact? I mean, I know why; I’m the older and wiser you, but it took you long enough. You were getting an education but you knew stuff all about life, and barely any more about yourself; what made you tick, what motivated you – and what stopped you from all sorts of enjoyment and achievement. It was a good safety mechanism. You didn’t get into any real trouble, but you never really had much fun either. We should have been having the time of our lives and you screwed it!
For a start you kept everyone at a minimum safe distance. You were mad about T and he was mad about you, but you wouldn’t invest in the relationship. Why? Because you thought you’d find someone better or because you wanted to be fancy free? No. Because you were afraid. So you kicked him out of your life and moved on, except you never really moved on did you because you were a stupid heartbroken girl who was too afraid to let love run its course? Idiot! You never had a shortage of boys in tow, I’m not saying you were undesirable, but look how that turned out: a queue of boys besotted with you – not one of whom you ever wanted to go out with! So a bit of a disaster on the love-life front really. (We did get better on that score, but it took a bloody long time to sort out).
And jobs were a disaster area too. You should have taken the assistant editor’s job with the Girl Guide’s Magazine. Imean, really. What were you thinking? Holding out for a better offer? They had 300 applicants and it was you they offered the job to AND YOU TURNED IT DOWN. What an opportunity. Were you mad? Were you thinking you’d get a better offer? No you weren’t. Don’t try and cover up this stuff with me my girl. You were afraid to move out of your comfort zone. Afraid you weren’t good enough. Afraid you would fail. Fear, fear, fear – again.
So, the closest you get to writing is a stint as a community newsletter editor, a spell in a publishing house, and a bit of freelance copywriting. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the nearest you get to a book deal is working in the library. It took 30 years for you to take yourself seriously and have the confidence to call yourself a writer. I mean for f**ks sake. We could have been anything we wanted to be, but no, you didn’t have the courage or the confidence to take an opportunity.
Sorry. Getting a bit het up here. I forgive you. No really, it’s OK. I do. If you’d made different choices, been a different person, I wouldn’t be here writing this now. I don’t want to say too much. There’s a lot you have to learn, and you’ll need to do it the hard way. There’s some hairy stuff to navigate through. Hard decisions, difficult days. You make it. I’m testament to that. We muddle through. Better than muddle through actually. You were quite a resilient character. I admire that about you. About us. I just wish you’d gained a bit more confidence earlier on; I wish you’d stopped trying to please your dad sooner– you knew in your heart of hearts it was futile – and got over your fear of failure. Let me tell you this – It isn‘t a secret- you are going to fail. You are not going to get through life only having succeeded. But that old adage is true: it’s thejourney that’s important, not the destination.
I suppose I should be grateful to you, my younger, fearful, unwise, under-confident self, you taught me a lot, including empathy and tenacity, neither quality we would have possessed without the heartache and trauma you put us through. Yes, I am grateful. We’re in our 50’s now. We’re in a goodplace: in a stable, loving relationship, having done lots of great jobs, and met lots of great people; we’re comfortable in our own skin and confident in our ability to at least try things, even if we don’t always succeed at them. We’ve forgiven our parents – sorry, that may come as a shock I know; -it was necessary to our development- and we have a good relationship with our sister; again, hard to believe I know, but it’s true. It’s great having a little sister in your 50’s, honestly, you’re gonna love it! Oh, and we’re writing a novel. Yes, you heard that right. After all this time we finally believe in ourselves enough to call ourselves a writer. I won’t spoil the fun, it’s a great journey. We believe in us. We believe we can do anything we set our minds to and we don’t care if it doesn’t always quite work out.
Right then, I suppose I better get going. I’ll leave you to your typewriter and self-loathing. LOL. (Yes, I’m laughing out loud again) It’s a joke. I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at me. Really though, you should lighten up a bit. Laugh more. Take yourself a bit less seriously. You’ll thank me for it.
So, I suppose this hasn’t quite turned out the way I planned, as a kind of SOS in a letter from the future to save you from yourself. It was meant as a bit of a lecture too, if I’m honest, and I still am that you’ll be pleased to know. I guess it turned out more as a ‘Thank You’ to you – my former self- for helping make me the person I am now. If by some quirk of the time-space continuum you do get this, please ignore the advice. We turned out OK.
With love from your sage self