A Letter To My Sixteen Year Old Self

17/12/2015 Lifestyle, Personal 11

A Letter To My Sixteen Year Old SelfDear sixteen-year old Laura,

Things will get better I promise. And I’m not just talking about that terrible haircut you got, although for the record that horrific, mushroom-shaped bob will eventually grow out and you’ll start dyeing it all those crazy bright colours like you always wanted to.

No, what I’m talking about is how you feel after leaving high school. Existing at the bottom of the social hierarchy for five years has done its damage, that’s for sure: for several more years you’ll be painfully shy to the point where you find making friends impossible, and you’ll pretty much refuse to talk to anyone at college or your part time job for a long time. Your ability to hold onto and internalise all of the cruel comments (whilst conveniently forgetting any good ones) will cause you to mistrust others to the point where you’ll keep everyone at arm’s length, but here’s a few things you should know:

  • That group of kids walking down the street who happened to laugh near you? They were almost definitely not laughing at you, so stop worrying and thinking everyone is analysing you all the time. No one is paying as much attention to you as you are, so give yourself a break and don’t be so self-conscious all the time.
  • A slight social faux-pas is not a big deal! You certainly don’t need to still be awake at two in the morning cringing about something you did several days ago that the other person will have totally forgotten about anyway. One of the things that makes you feel so awkward all the time is that horrific fear of messing up, so just try and relax (easier said than done, I know).
  • Own your interests: yes, reading and writing epic fantasies after the fashion of J.R.R. Tolkien isn’t exactly the coolest interest, especially as it seems like all your peers are out drinking and smoking (FYI: they totally aren’t!), but that’s just you, and you should never be ashamed of that. Years later you’ll be using that love of reading and writing to write a blog on which you’ll write some weird, crazy letter to your past self…
  • There are genuine, kind, good people in the world, so don’t let past experience, or your experience with a small amount of bad people colour your view. Your cynical view of the world and other people only does you harm, so learn to give people the benefit of the doubt, and let things go (yep, I’m talking about that kid who called you ugly in Year Seven whose teeth you would still happily punch out – just let it go!).
  • You’ll always be kind of shy, but don’t let that stop you doing anything you want to do. Even by the time you reach 22 you’ll still hate meeting new people and being in social situations outside your realm of experience, but keep applying for those jobs etc., and I’m sure one day soon it’ll pay off (ok, so this is kind of good advice for current me too!).
  • Be thankful for what you have. Yep, it’s time for the tough love! All that time you spend moping and overthinking everything is time you could spend being thankful for the things you do have, seen as there are so many people who have it so much worse. You have a wonderful family and a roof over your head, and a whole future in front of you, so just enjoy it!

So there you go younger me, that’s the best advice I can give you. You’re about to go to college and you’re going to hate it, but don’t worry: you’ll make it to university and you’ll absolutely love it there (all the books and learning obviously, not the drinking and stuff that most people look forward to…you don’t get any cooler I’m afraid!), and the older you get the less important all that high school crap will seem.

I can’t make any grandiose claims, like you’ll have published a bestselling novel in the next few years, but I can tell you that you’re going to be OK. One day soon you’ll be a fully functioning adult (well…sort of) with a full time job, and a flat, and a car (you pass your driving test first time and your brother doesn’t by the way, so remember to rub that in his face!), and you’re surrounded by awesome people.

Good luck!

Love, Future Laura.

So writing this felt kind of weird, and is definitely the most personal thing I’ve ever posted on here. So what would you tell your younger self now?

11 Responses to “A Letter To My Sixteen Year Old Self”

  1. Gemma

    A lovely post, Laura. I love the advice you give. I think the main thing I’d tell my younger self (and me now, actually) is not to worry so much about the little things or what people think. Something I’ve done before is write a letter to my future self – there’s a website called Future Me where you can write an email and set a date for it to be sent to you. I think it’s a really lovely idea and you might enjoy it if you liked writing this 🙂

    • Laura

      That is such great advice about not worrying about the little things – that’s something I would do well to remember myself!
      And that website sound awesome! I’ll definitely have to check that out. That’s such a nice idea to be able to receive a letter from your past self some time in the future. It would be so interesting to look back and see how far you’ve come 🙂

  2. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I’d have quite similar advice for my 16-year-old self. Except I’d assure her that college was going to be wonderful, much better than high school. (What is the distinction between college and university you make? Over here both are post-secondary options.) I’d also tell her it would be a good idea to get a head start on learning German because it would be much more difficult AFTER marrying a German speaker and starting a family. Thanks for going out on a limb and writing such a personal post!

    • Laura

      I’m glad you enjoyed college (in England you finish high school at sixteen, then you can go to college for a couple of years if you want, and then university after that).
      Haha, yeah that head start probably would have been a good idea in hindsight! 🙂
      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Cait @ Paper Fury

    omg this is the BEST letter of ever…and basically all the things I want to tell my 16yo self too. Or my…current self? hehe. Social anxiety…gah. I’m still working on that. But I wish I could tell my 16yo self that it really doesn’t matter if I’m obsessed with books and NO ONE I know is and to just ignore the friends laughing at me for reading. Because I missed years trying to not read because of that! NOT GOOD. XD
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    • Laura

      I’m still working on the whole social anxiety thing myself, but I have definitely improved on it since I was sixteen (probably working in a shop and being forced to deal with people has helped)!
      That’s such good advice! It shouldn’t matter what other people think of you and your interests, you should just be yourself. I was always like that in high school and tried not to admit I liked ‘boring’ things like reading, but I like to think I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin as I’ve got older. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  4. Lola

    Some of these I would be writing to my younger self as well. I stil cringe when I remember myself at that age, being a teenager was hard and everything felt so much bigger and worse and I overhtought everything. And indeed it’s easier to remember those bad words than the good ones.

    I guess it would be nice at that age to know that things would be alright eventually. And I do think people become more comfortable in their own skin as they grow older and it’s good to embrace those hobbies and things you really like. I am still not great with social situations, but so much better than I was in high school. I am not as shy anymore and I can talk a lot when I know someone, but I still hate big groups of people, so some things never change.

    • Laura

      That’s the worst when you look back and remember what you were like and cringe. I see kids that age now and hear them making a huge deal out of problems that in hindsight now I have bills and stuff to worry about seem so trivial, and then you remember that you were like that once!
      Yeah, it would have been nice to know back then that things would turn out OK eventually, because at times when I was being quite melodramatic I was convinced that it wouldn’t! I agree that some personality traits never change though – I am less shy than I was back then, but I don’t think I’ll ever not be shy, and I’ve got to the point where I don’t mind.

  5. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I missed this one – feel free to link it up to the December discussion challenge if you want, even though it’s less book focused. I think it’s great for us to get to know each other more!

    Anyway, on to my actual comment – Such insight we could give our younger selves. Heck, I could give my 22-year-old self some pretty good advice now too! 🙂 I wish I could say that all of my high school confidence issues went away completely, but some personality traits cling a little more tightly than we’d like them to. And I can still vividly remember the boy who called me ugly as I was looking for a seat on the bus in seventh grade (even though I’m SURE he has absolutely no recollection of that moment) – it’s also a good reminder of the ways our words can hurt, even when we say them carelessly!

    • Laura

      Thanks! I’ll be sure to do that 🙂
      That’s what’s so annoying about the horrible things people say to you – you personally remember them and cling on to them and use them as a way to make yourself feel bad for years to come, yet the person who said it, who probably didn’t even mean much by it will have no recollection of it. It really does make you think though about the things you say to other people, and how it might mean something so much more to them than it does to you.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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