93. A Letter to my 16 year old self…

My friend Caitlin inspired me to do one of these.

Dear Kate,

Stop chatting to people on msn messenger and listen to me please. You’ve done no revision for your GCSEs and your parents are freaking out. Somehow you’ll do really well but you’re really going to have to up your game for ‘A’ levels and university as it won’t be a cakewalk.

Yes, you think you’re really bohemian and that when you grow up you’ll be one of those people who permanently backpacks around India. You won’t. Sorry to burst the bubble but you’re actually much more conventional than you think. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll travel, yes-siree. You’ve been to so many places already and the list just keeps growing. It’ll give you the sense of freedom you so long for, and will open you up to so many new experiences. It’ll be your driving force.

But you’ll also have a very serious and sensible job. By the time you’re 26 you’ll have one of those vague job titles that doesn’t really mean anything except, ‘I’m doing alright’. I know this sounds kind of boring, but that’s how you pay for all of those exciting holidays, see? Oh and you also get your own office which you get to personalise with pictures of cupcakes and Hello Kitty. So it’s not all bad.

I know you think you’re going to marry Andy. You’re not. I’m sorry, no way to sugar-coat that. He’s a sweet boy but he’s not the one for you. Enjoy it while it lasts and try not to be too hard on him when he fails to visit you at university. I know the breakup CD he gives you is unconventional, but keep it, it’s got some pretty cool bands on there.

Now listen carefully. You’re going to get your heart broken. At least twice, and no doubt many more times after that. If I could protect you from that I really would. But these things happen. I know you’ll find this cliche but it really will make you stronger.

We still don’t know if you’ll ever get married, but you know what you’ll learn to be ok with that. You’ll learn to be happy on your own and that’s awesome. Your tastes won’t change that much. You’ll still dream of finding a deep, poetic boy who’ll write songs about you and stay up late discussing current affairs. But you’ve not managed to date one of them in all this time. And if I’ve learnt anything, what you want is usually the opposite of what you really need. So if you end up settling down with a monosyllabic plumber from the suburbs I won’t be the least surprised. Just don’t believe in someone who doesn’t believe in you.

Your love for writing will remain but for god’s sake don’t waste your time on all that angsty poetry. You’ll find it years later and be mortified. Especially because your Mum’s read them too. You write them because you feel lonely, and that people don’t understand you. Honestly, that’s not unusual, it’s called hormones (and probably in your case a bit of bad luck too). But in the future you have so many wonderful friends from every walk of life! They’ll make you laugh and even more importantly they will look after you when things get really bad. You will owe them.

Oh and you’ll live in New York one day. No, seriously!!!! You’ll feel more at home there than any place you’ve been before. It will revitalize you. You’ll push yourself to try new things, meet new people. You’ll tumble out the contents of life like a puzzle and make it your own.

It’s going to be amazing, and awful, and hard, and glorious. You’ll have some successes, you’ll fuck other things up. Just promise me you won’t ever lose your sense of humour and if anyone ever calls you boring please punch them.