I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to my first blog post, what a delightful bunch of people you all are – thank you! A lovely lady called Steph, who I worked with at Nationwide many years ago, commented that I’d come a long way since the shy, quiet girl she once knew. It got me thinking about that girl and I felt inspired to put pen to paper, writing her a note of encouragement to let her know she’s on the right path.
I hope you’re well. You don’t know me yet, but you soon will. There’s a few things I want to tell you. Knowing you as I do, it’s likely you won’t listen to my advice – I know you prefer to do things your way, but I want to at least try to explain a few things that could help make your life a little easier.
Know that you’ll be ok
Although you think right now the most painful thing you’ll ever experience is being dumped by your boyfriend because you don’t like golf, it’s not. The girls who get their mates to tell you they’re going to beat you up after school, is horrible, but I’m sorry, some stuff’s going to hurt more. Your heart gets broken more than once, surprisingly even after you’ve vowed to never let it happen again and by people you would never imagine possible. Each time as you carefully try to glue it back together, you’ll be tempted to hold a piece back just for you. Don’t. Love with nothing less than your whole heart, even if it leaves it open to risk of further breakage.
Another important point on love, when it comes to a choice between head and heart, unquestioningly follow your heart – it’s a lot less easy to confuse. The only exception will come if your heart leads you to fall in love with someone who doesn’t, or can’t love you back. The pain will be raw and uncompromising, so try, if you can, to give your head the ruling on this one.
You’ll continue to believe in happily ever after, the only difference is you’ll understand that all those Disney films got it wrong. This is a tough one to break to you, but it will dawn on you one day that your happiness is your responsibility, not someone else’s. People will come and enrich that happiness (lots of them actually), but you’re the one who has to choose it every day. It will be a conscious decision at first, but soon you won’t have to think about it. You’ll reach the point where the habit’s only broken by the occasional inane person (yes unfortunately, there are still a few of those in your future) and events you simply have no control over.
All of this is nothing you can’t handle though, you’ll soon realise what you’re made of. You’ll take everything that’s thrown at you and build some surprisingly immovable foundations, so please believe that no matter what happens or how bad you feel, you’re going to be ok.
You won’t always be shy, believe that one day some people will be interested in what you have to say
The humiliation of your sheep outfit falling off on stage to the cries of laughter from an audience seemingly the size of the Albert Hall will stay with you forever, but only to serve as a reminder of how your shyness used to feel. One day you’ll be on a course at work and claim to be timid – the trainer will take you to one side and tell you to stop living as your 14-year-old self, challenging you to face up to the fact you’ve moved on from being that person. Scary, having nothing to hide behind, but trust me it doesn’t take long for it to feel right. I wish I could tell you I remembered his name, if only so you could look out for him and thank him properly for me, but I don’t – all I remember is the impact his words are going to have on you.
One day, believe it or not, all those silences that you couldn’t quite work out how to fill, will become your secret weapon. Whilst others were busy talking, you learnt to listen. You become really good at it actually, so good in fact that people sometimes seek you out when they need help. It’s nice. You have something a lot of other people don’t. You take time to understand how other people work, which makes you a great friend. You may not have the highest IQ, but you’ve done pretty well in the EQ stakes (Google it – if you don’t know what that means) Listening has also meant you’re pretty good at quizzes. Embrace it, it’s arguably the best part of you.
This thing called Google, you’ll be tempted to use it to diagnose medical conditions – don’t.
Go to the doctors instead and trust what they tell you. You don’t always know best (and neither does Google)
You will never look good in a pair of Levis – accept it
The same can be said for halternecks, any kind of bikini or orange clothing – just don’t waste your time
Buy more hats though – they look good and you don’t wear enough of them.
Your plan to have kids when you’re in your 30’s will be the best plan you’ve ever messed up
I know you don’t like kids, but don’t worry, you’ll really like these ones! They won’t come out as naughty as you feared (I won’t lie – that does comes later…) And, I don’t want to scare you, but they come a lot earlier than you were expecting. But they’re great, both of them, they really are. You’ll worry about whether Chloe will make it to her first birthday, whether before she’s born, you’ll ever be able to love Mia as much as you do her, what position you’ll adopt should you slip on the stairs whilst carrying them in your arms. Word of advice – just relax. They’re both happy, healthy, beautiful teenagers now, with a zest for life and the ability to make you proud every single day of their lives. Believe that you’ll do a good job. They’re just like the girls you admire now, the ones you look up to and gravitate towards because they’re so bloody brilliant. They’re very different, which you’ll find a bit bewildering at first, but eventually you’ll learn to celebrate those differences and realise that actually they’re not so unlike you after all – so be kind, understanding and practice forgiveness and gratitude for as long as it takes. Pay attention in Maths too, learning to count to 10 will be something you’ll rely on more often than you think.
A surprising by-product of having such awesome kids of your own, is that you’ll also start to think other people’s are pretty cool too…
Some people still won’t like you, but instead of worrying about it you simply won’t care
At the moment, you think everyone has to like you (even if you don’t really like them – do you realise how hypocritical that is?!), but you really need to get over that and fast. As Dita Von Tesse says, ‘You can be the juiciest peach in the whole world and there’s still going to be some people who hate peaches’. Not your fault, not theirs – just a matter of taste. Accept it and move on. Don’t spend time trying to be someone else either – that will also end in tears.
You’re lactose intolerant – step away from the milk
Unless you want to endure months of agony and the humiliation of a rectal examination whilst your doctor reminisces about how well he knows your husband’s uncle. You’ll want to crawl up your own a*se, and would if he’d left enough room…
Simple strategy – don’t go near the stuff.
And whilst on that subject, you’re vegan now by the way
Make sure you tell everyone won’t you? Smugness is a really crucial part of being a vegan (it’s nothing to do with your deep rooted kindness and compassion for animals, or a loathing of the meat and dairy industry, or a desperate desire to do something, anything, to get other people to open their eyes to the horrors they are partaking in…. honestly)
You’ll find meditation one day, and it will change your life
I won’t explain why – I’ll leave this one to you to find out for yourself.
You won’t always believe that;
- Men are superior
- The world is fair, or that it’s supposed to be
- Your voice doesn’t deserve to be heard
- Carebears really do live in the clouds
- Justice is always served
- Conflict is always unnecessary
- Every flight you take will end up at the bottom of the ocean
- Your Dad’s political views are always right
- Mushrooms are evil
- You can’t do what you set your mind to
You’ll have so much fun, travel the world, make so many amazing friends – understand that there are so many people that have faith in you by the time you reach my age. Hard to believe, I know. But trust me – I’m arguably the only person truly qualified to tell you this.
Love and hugs, sweet girl – you’ve paved such a glorious path for me – thank you for continually pushing yourself and refusing to give up – I know how hard it was at times. My only hope now is that I can live up to your expectations, you definitely more than lived up to mine x