Saturday, 24 October 2009

A letter to myself

Dear Livy-turning-17,

Hi. I see you there, in your purple wrap round skirt with the metal belt and the white vest top, getting ready to go out with Paul. Don't spike your hair up. Really, don't - ok, you already did. No problem, Paul is going to tease you about it enough tonight that you'll never do your hair like that again. You're excited for this date; it's with one of the many boys you always secretly liked who never seemed interested. A friend of the popular people. Tonight will be kind of a rush. He'll give you a Sugar Ray CD as a birthday present and you'll watch a film and share popcorn awkwardly, and he'll hold your hand, and you'll joke around and tease each other like flirting friends do.

Only... by the end of the night you'll be over it. He'll say goodbye and give you a hug and by then - in that four hour time period - you'll have realised that he's just a boy. Vulnerable and crude and not worthy of your swooning daydreams. He'll say, "We should do this again sometime", and you'll say "Nah." Don't say you won't. You will. You'll become pretty well-known for that in the next couple of years, by the way - shutting boys down with characteristic bluntness. I know, you never thought you'd be capable of it, but you are.

Speaking of boys, remember when your friend Sarah was seeing that guy and you went with her to watch him playing football at the park? You dilly-dallied around the swings, hidden behind a bush, watching and kind of wishing that tall dark haired one would take his top off. Well, I've got news for you. You will see him shirtless many times in the years to come. His arms and chest and smile will become as familiar to you as your own. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Wait and see.

Let that get you through the rest of your youth. You worry too much about school dynamics; you wish too much to be more popular than you are. You're sometimes embarrassed that you are clever and know the answers. You feel all misunderstood and broody. You're kind of a geek that way, and lots of other ways too. Speaking of which, you're going to wish that you'd plucked your eyebrows and used a lighter shade of concealer. Your future self will really stress about that, which proves that you'll never really grow out of your geekiness and determination to make a big deal out of things that don't matter.

You have big dreams. University and then a law qualification and a big city - New York, ideally. You'll even obsessively watch 'Friends' and 'Sex and the City', and you'll love them and imagine the sophisticated life you'll have in that amazing city someday. Such a cliché dream for a school girl, but you want it all the same.

Not going to happen, but you should keep dreaming. Just keep your options open. Remember that there are lots of 'right' choices, lots of ways to realise your potential, and that some things matter more than money and prestige and style.

Anyway, Ms Liv, all those things you're wishing for will come. You're going to grow up, and soon. By this time next year you'll be two inches taller, and have a figure. You'll finally have had kisses you can look back on without wanting to die. You will date. You'll move to Manchester, which isn't the same as NYC but you'll like it. You'll try new things and grow up in more ways than you can imagine.

Eventually, you're going to change your mind about pretty much everything you think you know, politics and people and religion and music and philosophy and parenthood and more. You'll barely recognize yourself in about eight years' time, but don't worry. You'll still be a geek.

Love 25-year-old you

P.S. You WILL grow into your nose. Have faith.

P.S.S. You'll never grow into your gangly gorilla arms. Get used to them.

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