I was given this book for Christmas; letters famous people have written to their younger selves. A writer friend and I decided we would join in….. It turned out to be a harder write than I anticipated…. This is my fourth draft…. So here we go….
Ahh Chris, 16 was one of the best years! I am so proud of you. Old school closes, sent to new school with 10 times the number of pupils, for essentially the 2 most important years of your school life. And boy did you handle it well. From your passionate fight to save your old school; to your bravery at fitting into a whole new system. Identifiable as one of those “Catholic girls whose school closed”, you never let it phase you. And you took it with such grace, that you were never going to be Dux, because it was always going to go to the girl who had spent 5 years at the school… not the chick with only 2 under her belt..
Tenison College closing was the beginning of the end of your relationship with the catholic church. I remember you watching the nuns, brilliant, clever, insightful – kowtowing to the Priests and Bishops, with absolutely no say in their future, or the future of the girls in their charge. It rankled then, and it still rankles now. Other things will happen in the next few years that will seal the deal, and you will lapse. But you will always find comfort in the silent spaces that churches provide. And occasionally the familiar rites will give you comfort – especially when you’re homesick.
16-21 will be some of the best years of your life. You will find freedom, you will fall in love with the South Island, and realise that you can make your own choices and then live with the consequences. Life will be good! I only wish you knew then that they would be some of the best years of your life, and to enjoy them more!
Am pleased to tell you that Donna will still be your bestie… 47 years and counting! It will be one of your most important relationships, and although life will mean that you (as yet) don’t live in the same town, you will always be there for each other and every meeting will be like putting on comfy old slippers.
Oh Babes, I wish I could tell you to love yourself more. And love that body more. At 16 you WERE NOT FAT! You were beautiful, and because you don’t know that, you will always be surprised when people tell you – and you won’t believe them. And because you think you are fat, you won’t watch what you Eat, or care for that body long term…. But You will learn to kinda like it , eventually….
There is one stage that you will adore your body… and that’s when you have your bairns! You will discover that, that body that you hate, is designed for growing, delivering and nurturing babies, and you will adore it, and you will rejoice in the changes it undergoes.. and even the scars that are left… (And Lovey? Babies? You were right! Babies and kids were your calling! The kids you have, and those that come into your life, will be the VERY best thing you ever do! They will give you riches that you cannot even imagine now)
I wish I could tell you to love that brain sooner… you won’t know for ages how bright you really are. And coming from a whanau of the super bright, you will spend a long time thinking you don’t quite measure up. You are really intelligent, and I know you will spend years covering that up. But Honey, the good news, is that not only will you come to terms with it. You will discover that others appreciate it too… and you will never want to stop learning…
At 16 I can now see the start of the qualities that will hold you during the hard years – because like everyone, you will have years that just seem to be full of endless crap! But you will survive, because the strength, sense of humour, compassion and kindness you showed changing schools at 16 will support you thru the worst of times.
Sadly, you will also be joined at times by The Black Dog and an awful internal voice you eventually call The Bitch Troll.. I suspect they will be with us for life; and sometimes the fight will all but defeat you. I wish I could save you from hosting them. But I think they will teach you empathy.. And in a curious way they will eventually lead you to people who are soulmates – not in the singular Life Partner sense, but people who are like you, think like you, care like you. You will work out, very late, that you are an Empath (yes, I know, it is a very Wanky New Age term; but it is what you are).. And that realisation, and finding your “Tribe”, will eventually make you stop thinking you are weird. But it is the reason that you are so good at the things you do. Its why people are so important to you. And why you preach the LOVE message so hard. It will also be why you realise that Unconditional love, actually doesn’t solve life’s problems, BUT it does make helping some people so much easier..
And damn! You will LOVE! People, places, times…. That zest for life you have now, never leaves! And it will get deeper the older you get.
And you’ll be pleased to know you will never stop loving words! Reading, writing, talking, speeches, stories, poetry, and now blogs – ahh… you don’t know about blogs… you will LOVE the internet when it arrives, and how it will expand your world, and let you meet people from everywhere!!! And you will learn (also a bit late, sorry) to be careful with your words. Your quick wit and fast brain will sometimes make you careless and you will hurt with your words. Which is surprising, because we are sensitive, and we carry the weight of other’s words long after we should….
So, do I give you advice? Would you listen if I did? I’d like to tell you to guard your heart a bit better, love yourself a bit more, listen to what other people say about you…. But if you took that advice, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and that seems a little strange to me…. Do I have regrets? Of course, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. But the one thing the intervening 38 years have taught me is that you cannot live with regret, and that everything and everyone happens for a reason..