I read Stephen Fry's letter to his 16 year old self and felt inspired. His is here, and absolutely wonderful.
I started this a few weeks ago but have been editing it now and then.
It was a really interesting thing to do - I wasn't sure whether or not to publish it. But sure, why not?
I'm writing to you, 10 years from the day you're reading this. I'm 26, you're 16. I'm about to go back to college to do a masters degree, you're just going into fifth year. You're young and stupid. I'm slightly older, but still young and still quite a bit stupid. That's ok, everyone has their own kind of stupidity - ours has been serving us quite well so we'll struggle on with it.
You've had a tough few years, and I'm sorry, but the next few years are tough also. You get through it, you survive, you don't cope very well at first, but you learn techniques and soon you start to thrive and enjoy your life. You fall in love and you have many many friends. Lots of them are gay - I swear, you're not the only one on the planet!- most of them are wonderful, some of them are awful fuckers but you'll be able to filter them out yourself in time. Helpful tip: just because someone does something awful, it doesn't negate anything wonderful they've done or the good memories you have with that person.
I like a lot of things about you. You do your own thing, you try your best. You're smart, but not overly precocious. You will learn very quickly that there are people more book smart than you once you leave school - but you're clever and resourceful enough to get by. You can make people laugh and you work your butt off. None of these things leave you (most of the time) - cherish them. You will achieve a lot through grit and determination.
I can't correct your mistakes - and we both know there's been a few already - or the things I don't like about you(you will retain your love of whinging). I can't make your life perfect back then anymore than I can make mine perfect now - I wish I could. I wish I could tell you what I know now - that the world isn't as hateful towards you as you might think, I wish I could tell you to talk to someone, to admit that you're lonely for something you can't even describe yet. That you yearn for a place that's yours - something I know you still haven't quite found. It's a kind of loneliness that you have got used to, that you get comfortable with, so much so that anything that shakes you out of that makes you unsure and uncomfortable.
There are big challenges ahead - I wish I could tell you to ready yourself for them, prepare yourself to be challenged in terms of who you are, what makes you Rebecca, what gives you strength.
You know who you are, and that's something I envy from my position of mid-twenties drift. The certainty and clarity you have about everything, right and wrong, friends and enemies, black and white. That leaves you to a degree, as it does everyone. It never abandons you entirely, and we never lose that streak of pompous self-righteousness - you will learn to not be as annoying about it though (or so I hope!).
Happiness in every life comes and goes, the trick is to enjoy it while it's here but not wait for it to end - I still haven't learned. The rug can get pulled out from under your feet, and it will be. This happens to everyone. We get over it.
I'm sorry that I underestimate you so much - I'm sorry I called you a brat the other day after I read my diaries. Seriously though, you need to stop judging people so much. They may not judge you as much if you do - when you presume everyone is an arsehole then they may see no reason to show you any different.
I know you believe you have all the answers, I wouldn't deny you that experience for anything - but be more open minded. You can listen to people's points of view without accepting them, it's a sign of an enlightened mind, which you can have if you just listen. And keep reading - what was the last book you read? Turn off the computer and go out into the real world.
Keep writing. Please just keep writing and writing even when you think it's crap and no one else will like it.
Please be kind to yourself and to others. Give them a chance.
ps eat lots and lots of eggs and gluten now while you can.
pps The Leaving Cert is actually grand. Noone else will say that to you - but c'mon, who are you going to trust??
pps Even if you are bit of a brat, you're wonderful and worthy of every respect and love.
Can the customer be even more right with the web?
4 months ago