A letter to my teenage self

Dear Teenage Self,

This is a letter from your wiser older self.  I’ll try not to use too many big words because you haven’t learned them all yet.  Give it time.  You’ll know lots of pretentious words before you’re 30.

What can I say, young grasshopper, that will have meaning to you at your young age?

My teenage self.

Well, even though the teenage years seem to go on forever, they will come to an end.  You’ll be glad to be free of school… until you go back to university and decide to become a teacher.  I know, I know; I can’t explain it except you’ll learn to conquer being in public despite that panic thing which is actually agoraphobia; I’d tell you to Google it, but you wouldn’t understand what that means because the internet isn’t a hit yet.  In the future, you’ll waste oodles of free time on the web, blogging and Facebooking (but then so will lots of other people, so you won’t be alone.  It’s a societal thing.)

If you can, do a bit better in school and volunteer.  These sorts of things will help you get scholarships to pay for your higher education.  Plus, volunteering feels good: you meet all sorts of wonderful like-minded people.  When you’re older, you’ll wish you put more effort into your schoolwork and got lots of 90s; thankfully by the time you get to university, you become a real keener and do so well, you’ll even briefly consider a Ph.D in English Literature until you realize it limits your job prospects to being an English professor and driving a Volvo.  But you COULD do it and have a Dr. in front of your name.  And that’s what counts.

However, despite what I said in the last paragraph, get out more.  You are far too devoted to having your nose in a book.  Find more ways to hang out with friends.  Hiding in the basement writing novels that will never see the light of day is bad for the complexion.  You can’t write without experience anyway.

Try something a little bad.  At least once.  I’m not talking crack cocaine; I’m talking about letting loose and living.  Get drunk once.  Puke on someone’s shoes.  Wear a lamp shade.  Something.

Drive as much as you can (not while wearing a lamp shade, puking on someone’s shoes, or getting drunk.)  By the time you’re my age, gas will double in price, and you won’t be able to go to the station and put it on the “tab.”  Relish $0.69 a litre.  It isn’t going to last.  There will come a day when fuel economy is more important than engine power.  Yeah, I know, eh?  It matters when gas is $1.30 a litre.  Don’t get me started on $3.50 Ben’s bread.

Be wise with your money.  Don’t buy crap.  You’ll eventually hate the clutter.  During university, you’ll move around a lot AND live in buildings with stairs.  Lots of stairs.  Stay away from yard sales and Frenchy’s.  You’ll buy so many books you won’t have enough shelves for all your Dickens and Austens.  (Oh, consider more wicker furniture; avoid the heavy wooden things.   And do you need that many clothes you NEVER wear?)

On the subject of narcissism, unplug the hair dryer.  Your hair is curly.  Stop straightening it.  You’ll gain 10 to 15 minutes per day; 70 minutes a week; 280 minutes a months; and 3360 minutes per year.  That’s 56 hours of your life you’ll never get back because you dry your hair.  Someday you’d rather use that time wisely, by playing Snood and Farmville.

When you’re out and about, speak up.  You wouldn’t say poop if you had a mouthful, so try not to be so shy.  Someday you will actually enjoy public speaking and won’t want to shut up.  You’ll even try karaoke though you won’t sing for anyone now.  (And you think those piano sessions are quiet and mysterious, Shrieky McGee!)   So start having a voice at a younger age.  Maybe that would help the bullying situation.

Speaking of bullies, you’ll survive your social disasters.  In fact, it makes you an empathetic person who is supportive of those who are the underdogs of society (which is usually most of us at some point.)  I have a feeling we would’ve been a spoiled little brat without a few bumps in the road; thankfully we’re not too princessy and can hide most of the selfish impulses.  Most.

On the topic of boys, since this occupies most of your hormone-filled days: occasionally some really nice good looking guys are going to cross your path, sometimes even showing up right on your doorstep.  Now I know you won’t believe me, but they’re going to like you and you won’t really know it because you aren’t yet a master of body language AND you don’t believe anyone could really like you.  Don’t let your self-esteem issues keep you from enjoying romance and missing the boat.  At 135 pounds, you aren’t fat.  Stupid Cosmo and its stick-thin models skewing a person’s sense of esteem.

Finally, remember to spend more time with your family, enjoying every moment, every road trip, every meal.  There’s going to come a day when not everyone is going to be together for holidays and special events.  This is going to hurt, will make for more than a few nights of crying yourself to sleep, but life builds character and makes you wise.

It’s not all bad, though.  Keep in mind you’ll get to do some awesome things.  Like fly to British Columbia to study French (ha!)*  There are so many wonderful people to meet in all your programs of study.  And you’ll actually get to work as a journalist, be on the radio, be published in magazines, and master the art of changing a flat tire and cooking tea biscuits (that one takes awhile!)

In essence, even when things are bad, enjoy your life.  It goes far too quickly, especially when you begin realizing one-third of your life is gone and you still haven’t published a book, married, had kids or gotten a house as per The Plan.  When you’re young, boredom can make time last forever; as you get older, it goes so fast, you’ll begin to sound like one of those older people who always says “I don’t know where time goes anymore.”

Really, it goes by in a heartbeat.

Sincerely,

Your Old, Decrepit Self

*Little French learning actually goes on when you’re in the most British city of all Canadian cities, Victoria.

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