So it was that I found myself in Waterstones between Covent Garden Market and St Martin's Lane, looking for a couple of books to buy relatives, that I found myself browsing through a book with contributions from famous people, which involved them writing letters to themselves at sixteen.
It was an entertaining read, with many having a smiling look at their own past, complete with a "You are young, but you will learn" attitude. The rule was one page only for each letter. Something that, predictably, Baz Lurhmann failed to follow (But to be fair, I speak with bias. I think his films etc.. are overblown egotism).
But it set me thinking. If you could write a letter to yourself at sixteen, what would it say? Plus what would a no of bloggers put down in such a letter if they had the chance. So it is that I thought I'd set down a meme of letters for bloggers to write to their sixteen year old selves.
There is a condition of course. So as to avoid overblown pretension, you can only give three pieces of advice, and it needs to be snappy, so I suppose, seeing as I have laid down this meme and set the rules, I'd better start:
There is a lot I want to tell you during this brief moment, suffice to say that I am painfully aware that whatever advice I give you might be pointless. After all it is the difficult and unhappy situations that help make us the person we are known and loved for as much as the great situations. But if I can give you three pieces of advice that will make your path through life easier, then I can't do much better than the following
1) Stop, and I mean stop worrying about what people thinking of you. Trust me, it's screwing you up a bit. So what that you are not as academically brilliant as you'd like to be and can't get girlfriends. Being defensive and worrying is not helping. In fact it's making it worse. Just relax and be yourself. Those closest to you love you for yourself and they are worthwhile friends as you already know, so think what could happen in the wider world if you relaxed a bit more!
2) Career. You will be relieved to know that you do go to University and you do get a dream job, but it will be tough and not without some frustration and hurt and plenty of self-doubt. Relax. Just bide your time and you will find situations come to you if you simply put in the required effort. Oh and I hate to break it to you, but you will not be a leading figure in the Labour Party and Foreign Secretary at 35, and you will not be the one to smash Clause Four. That chap you think should be a future leader does that and, trust me, not being a high flier at a young age is a good thing. It's spared you a lot of hassle, ridicule, and loathing. The political successes you do have a small, but definitely worthwhile.
3) Girls. Oh Paul where do I start! You are already aware that you have wasted time fancying one or two girls and right now, ever hopeful, you are starting to have your eye on that lovely small brunette in the year below. The one whose Dad is a work colleague of yours. Right, nothing is going to happen there, nor indeed will anything happen with anyone whilst you are at school. This is partly down to the fact you are just not comfortable in your own skin and it will take you a while before it slowly dawns on you that you need to just be yourself and trust in time and circumstances, plus a bit of casual confidence (which again takes time to develop). Sorry mate, but you need to know and it will save you chasing after girls, many of whom make good friends but are just not your type and vice versa! That said, you will have some great relationships and happy memories and nearly all the break-ups you have will be amicable. How many can say that! Oh and yes, that kiss you will have. The casual snog whilst slightly drunk, caused by supposedly the pair of you celebrating St George's Day! Don't, I repeat, don't worry about it. You were single, so was she, neither of you did anything really bad. That's some way away, but I wanted to spare you the endless worry you will have about what might happen as a result!
Hopefully if you follow that, life will be less fraught for you, but just remember. Relax, and don't try too hard and things will happen. You have a lot going for you and there are more positives about you than you think. Oh (cheating slightly here I know), but in about two years you will become a Christian. Scary I know but great times lie ahead, just one word of advice when you are being very pious and evangelical. Think before you speak!
PS. Slightly unnerved by what a fifty-two year old me might tell me