I have often read letters other people, famous or otherwise, have written to their younger selves but I was never tempted to do it myself. Couldn’t quite see the point. Until sofagirl brought it up tentatively and I found myself letting out a “yeah, let’s do it, could be fun”, without having the faintest clue of what I could possibly say today to an unsuspecting 17 years old. Not that she would listen.
I am one of those souls blessed with no regrets so there would be no attempt to steer me in one direction or another with 20/20 hindsight but I would probably dispense some advice to ease her worrisome nature:
- first of all, don’t to worry so much. All that time you are going to spend worrying about stuff that will never come to pass or will come to pass but will work itself out is time better spent lying on the couch, catching up on your reading – and, while we are on the subject, you will never get to all the books you want to read so don’t stick with the boring ones;
- you will never, in your wildest dreams, imagine where you will end up living. Some of your spectacularly strange decisions will turn out fine, even positively interesting. So, go ahead, consult the i-Ching if it makes you feel better, but you will go for it anyway;
- in times of trouble, friendships will be your anchors – never let them go;
- do not fret your life will be populated by a cast of Dostoevsky characters, with you at the center of all the turmoil. Good thing you dispensed with Russian literature early in life. In the arc of the next 40 years or so you will be mostly happy, often deliriously so;
- no need to stay away from dodgy men, bad sex, impossible crushes and doomed relationships. None of it will kill you. I know that you consider marriage too bourgeois for your smug self but – spoiler alert – you will end up marrying at the ripe age of 39. The reason being that you crossed paths with an uncommonly smart and good man;
- all that money you will fret about spending on travel, it’s a good investment of sorts. Locking eyes with a turtle while lying in the mud or negotiating a taxi fare with 40 Egyptian cab drivers will make for happier moments and more useful lessons than staring at your bank balance on your laptop. Plus, they make for much better dinner party conversation;
- I know you cannot possibly imagine this but you will succumb to technology. You don’t know Steve Jobs yet but he will make a nerd of you;
- it’s a more interesting ride than you imagined at the onset. And you will be rather lucky so be kind, be gentle and be proud of who you are.