Sunday, June 21, 2009

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

A letter to my teenaged self

I know you are currently facing one of the biggest crises of your life. Your father is in intensive care – and you don’t know what will happen. You travel for the first time alone on public transport; you are scared and you feel terribly alone. But you never think your father will go away forever. Maybe because you are foolish and don’t think too much. Or maybe because you are at heart a happy, positive soul. Looking back, I prefer to think it’s the latter. And my advice to you then (and to me, today) is…hold on to that optimism. Your father will be well… and there will be other crises you will weather together.
• Not too much will change in the intrinsic you. It’s a sad thing and a good thing.
• Deep down, you are and will be timid. Which means you will miss opportunities, and greatness will evade you. You let the currents carry you; never fighting them, never adding your force to them. You take the easy way out most times. If there is one thing you should try and change, it is this.
• Your love of books will last. Your biggest regret will be that you have not taken this love and made something more of it.
• Put pen to paper. Continue writing that diary. Buy more notebooks and fill it with the nonsense of youth. I cannot tell you what precious raw material that can be in the future.
• You will be a dreamer for life. A lot of those dreams will come true. Even if they don’t, they will provide you some very pleasurable moments.
• But once in a while, get out of that day dreaming mind of yours and look around. Be curious. Take notice. Take a different route to the hospital. Be a little late getting back home because you stopped to talk to a stranger. When your mother tells you to smile at your neighbours, this is what she means.
• You have a deep core of selfishness. I cannot see it changing – you will continue to take the people closest to you for granted. Try not to.
• You will know love. And passion. But you can put a little more effort in chasing it – you never know, it could make your life just a bit more interesting.
• You will never be thinner that you are now.
• Friends will disappear. It will take a long time for you to re-discover them. And then you would have lost lifetimes of sharing. So take down those phone numbers and addresses.
• Never do anything out of spite. Or embarrassment. You have already lost one school because of it. Don’t lose more important things.
• You don’t know what you truly want to do in life. But you have a vague idea. 23 years down the line, the idea still will remain vague. So dig deeper. Your 40 year old self will thank you if are able to crystallize it better.
You are beautiful. You are loved. You are lucky. Today is not the best day of your life. There will be better. A few will be worse. But you will never be 17 again. So set out to do something today that you will remember for the rest of your life.

My response to Ammani's blog post about Stephen Fry's letter to himself.