If you could send a letter to yourself aged 16, what would you write in it?
There is so much I’d love to say to my 16-year-old self; I’ve probably learned as much- if not more- from my mistakes than anything else, and I think I’d still want him to go through all that and figure it out for himself.
I think if I could say anything to him now, it would be just to simply offer reassurance and encouragement.
Here it goes.
This is going to sound very weird- even for you- but I’m writing to you from the future. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you where I am while I write this letter- and besides even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.
Similarly, I won’t give too much away in regards to what exactly lies ahead for you over the next 11 and a half years, but I will give you some words of advice that might help you along. I realise that you are now at the age where you are not exactly prone to heeding advice- especially from your parents and teachers- but do with it what you will.
You are focusing a lot of your energy right now on trying to ‘fit in’ and appear ‘cool’ in the eyes of your peers. Don’t worry so much about this. Embrace your inner weirdo, and be comfortable with who you are. All that zoning out you do serves a purpose- of which you will come to understand later. You are uniquely special- be content with being yourself.
You will very soon become more anxious because of the fact that you don’t have a clue what you want to study in university, or what you want to ‘be’ when you ‘grow up’. Relax. I’ll let you in on a little secret; while I write this letter it’s the year 2015, you are 27 years old, and you’re still not sure! It’s all good, don’t freak out.
Here is a quote from one of your fellow countrymen, I think it might help.
‘If you want to be a grocer, or a general, or a politician, or a judge, you will invariably become it; that is your punishment. If you never know what you want to be, if you live what some might call the dynamic life- but what I will call the artistic life- if each day you are unsure of who you are and what you know, you will never become anything, and that is your reward.’ – Oscar Wilde.
Know that you will find your way, and you will never stop learning and growing. For you, it’s all about the journey- don’t stress about the destination.
You should also know that you have it pretty damn good. Stop complaining like a spoiled brat; if there’s no milk in the fridge get off your arse and go to the shop, if you can’t find your football socks in time for training, do your own washing next time. Trish and Shem want what’s best for you, even though right now you are convinced that they- and the rest of the world- are against you. Get over yourself, you can’t even begin to comprehend the sacrifices they’ve made to get you to where you are- they’ve helped shape the person you’ve become. You owe them your life; shower your parents with love and appreciation every single day.
Do you think you are making the most of your talents? I know how much you enjoy English for instance; take the higher level exam like your teacher suggests, instead of having the craic down the back with the boys- discussing what the best formation to implement on Championship Manager is- coasting along in the realms of underachievement. Trade in some of those hours you spend watching TV and pick up a book, or start to put your thoughts onto paper. Make the best use of your talents, don’t settle for mediocrity.
A couple of more things to remember:
- If it seems like a good idea at the time, it usually isn’t.
- Your fear of eggs is completely irrational, snap out of it.
- Always pack tea bags wherever you go.
- If a girl says she’s OK, she is most definitely not OK. Approach with caution.
I’ll leave you with one last very important instruction.
When the time comes- on the night of your graduation from secondary school- your beloved football team Liverpool will be contesting the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, against AC Milan. At half time in that game you might be feeling a little dejected, but take whatever money you have in your wallet- in fact get all the boys to empty their wallets- then walk out of the bar, go around the corner to the bookies and put it all on Liverpool to win. Trust me.
Enjoy the journey Pad!