Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Dear 16 year old self



 One of the prompts for my course at the moment is to write a letter to your 16 (23, 31 whatever is younger and appropriate) self and I have been thinking about this for a while. Here is the truth: I don't have anything to say to my younger self. No words of wisdom, no good advice, no “be strong, it will all get better” which seems to pop up so frequently in other peoples letters. Quite the opposite, I think I liked myself better at 16. I might be glorifying things in hindsight and I know I had my problems at sixteen but I don't remember been so painfully awkward around people. I don't remember hiding in the corner at parties because it all gets too noisy too quickly. I don't remember feeling so afloat and without direction. I don't remember feeling like I have missed so many things already (and damn it, I'm only 22. There really should be everything out there still but it doesn't feel like it). There are many things I definitely had at 16 which seem to have gone missing somewhere along the way. One of the things I was always confident about is my own smartness. These days I feel incredibly stupid most of the time and I also feel like people don't take me serious more often than I'd like them too. But then, I have developed a habit of over-analysing conversations which might be the reason for this. A simple question like “What sort of music do you like?” will throw me into a panic. Clearly I care even more what people think than I used to, and that's saying something.

I used to have a sense of adventure, whether it came to travel, new projects or dangerous sports. At the moment, a trip across town feels adventurous and I'd rather just hide in my room most days. My room is safe. I used to always juggle several projects at a time but right now, I feel like keeping two balls in the air seems like a lot of effort. Somewhere along the lines I lost my drive. Yesterday I spent thirty minutes motivating myself to finally put the last three seams on a dress I should have finished months ago ( Little sister, it's done. You are going to get it at Easter :) ) Where is that feeling gone that I'd actually look forward to having some time for crafting?

Somewhere over the last two years, mood swings have crept into my life. I can go from happy to almost in tears in about five minutes flat for no apparent reason. This morning, my phone refused to show me the video I was trying to watch and I was so close to throwing it at a wall (I didn't, just in case you wondered). Weren't mood swings and temper tantrums meant to be a teenage thing?

The only thing where I really think I could teach my younger self a thing or two about is the whole boy-girl game. I definitely didn't have THAT figured out 6 years ago.Not that I perfectly do now, but it's an improvement over what it used to be.

So it looks like I have something to say after all:

Dear 16-year old self,
I wish I was more like you were. Also, boys are fun, just remember to look at things between you in the best possible light at all times.
Your 22-year old self

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This is probably the most personal thing I have ever written outside my journal and I'm scared crazy about putting it out there, especially because it is so whiny. I apologize for that but I wanted to be adventurous, right? This seems like a point to start.

23 comments:

  1. Have you already read this article?
    http://jcs.biologists.org/content/121/11/1771.full
    (it's about the importance of stupidity in scientific research)

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, it's a great article. Unfortunately, I think there are two types of "stupid" in science. The "there are so many things nobody knows yet" kind of stupid mentioned in the article and then there is the "Oh my god everybody else is so much better at this than I am. Why am I even bothering?" kind of stupid. I enjoy the former but I hate the latter. I think I might have to work on my self-confidence.

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  2. A wonderfully heartfelt, brave post. I love it.

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  3. I've always struggled with this prompt, too. I liked reading your thoughts :)

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  4. I liked your post it is heart felt and lovely, plus it reminds me of myself when I was 22 :) it does get better and the time you are in now is all about discovering yourself and feeling lost at times. And yeah the hormones go crazy! I thought that ended with your teen years but apparently not. I still cry over things even now.. I think just by what you have written you must be a sensitive person which is so great as you have the potential to feel so much and that can be a nice thing, embrace who you are.
    I love your words, never stop writing from the heart :)
    Your blog looks great too by the way!

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  5. oh goodness, girl! i think you are very wise. i love how you remind your younger self that she is a celebration right where she is at. i think there is much wisdom in being very aware of the present moment. and i can relate to over analyzing or wanting to give crystal clear clarity to someones inquiries about even the simple things. you are brave. and adventurous. and beautifully sensitive!

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  6. I loved reading this post. I'm glad you shared it. x

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  7. That was a very inspiring and brave thing to write, it made me think of myself when I was 16 and what I would write to my former self.

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  8. Thank you for your kind words and support everybody :)

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  9. actually, mood swings do get worse in, my experience -- for me it's chronic PMS! This is a brave and beautiful post, honey! brava! x

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    1. Really? Oh dear, I was so hoping to pass that cup or at least have it go away again. Thank you for the compliment. :)

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  10. I enjoyed your honest, heart-felt post. Yes, it must have taken lots of courage to write and post but its worth it! I kept thinking while I was reading, maybe there is something important and beneficial about looking back where you were in a place in your life when you were happier about yourself. Sort of like when i was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (at 50 years old!) I kept trying to remember what I wanted to do and be at 12 before "life" seeped in... Great writing!

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    1. Thanks :) That's a really good idea. I think 12 is a little early for me but somewhere around 16-17 seems like a good place.

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  11. Brilliant and brave post! Well done on opening up. Also, well done on liking yourself at 16 - I was a total mess back then!

    I'm with Susannah + BohoMummy - I started getting increasingly moodswingy when I was about 22. All hormones. I tried various methods to deal with it, but for me, just knowing it was hormones helped me take it easy on myself when they hit.

    and yes - 16 year old girls need a real firm word about boys. They're not the end of the world girls!

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    1. They do, don't they? :D I definitely did.

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  12. This is such a beautiful post. This really struck a chord with me:
    "I don't remember feeling like I have missed so many things already (and damn it, I'm only 22. There really should be everything out there still but it doesn't feel like it)."
    I'm 27 and I feel like life is just slipping on by way too fast. I fell like I should have done more by now and I feel the clock ticking every day. I guess it's why I'm so determined to create some adventure for myself next year. There's no time to waste.

    I can't wait to read more! :-)

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    1. This is exactly my plan as well. Let's make next year a year to remember! And the year after and the year after as well. :)

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  13. This is great! You sound awesome at 16...I would tell my 16 year old self to be more cheerful! But I definitely love my 23 year old self waaaay more!

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    1. With a bit of luck, I will be saying that too. I have quite a few months to sort myself out, after all.

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  14. A beautifully honest and brave post. Bravo! Loved every moment of it.

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    1. You’re a very brave girl writing this post.
      It makes me a bit sad, and also glad to be ok with my present self.
      I was a very confused and unsure person then, and I’ much more centerd now.

      But I don’t lead a academic life, I think that makes a big difference.

      best wishes

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    2. I think me taking my first tentative steps into "real" academic life at the moment is part of the problem. I haven't really worked out how to deal with all the obstacles there but then I'm sure this will get better.

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