Thursday, January 25, 2007
Maybe, just.. rebel a bit...
Dear Me....Sydney, 1977
As if you are going to believe this is a letter from your future self, 30 years on. That's right. From 2007. How can I convince you it's you.. me? What do I say anyway? I mean, it simply cannot work to change the past. Can it? (All those time travelling stories have got holes in the logic a mile wide!) And if I did get this time travelling letter from a future middle aged me, I'd remember getting it. Wouldn't I? (I may now be "old", but I'm not that old!) So it can't happen - and it can't have happened. And if it did, I'm sure something really bad would happen with the time-space continuum. Or something like that!
But I can't help it! How can I resist the offer to be able to write a letter to my much younger self with the wisdom of hindsight. Maybe I could suggest doing a few things a bit differently. Nothing too great - because if I did anything too radically different, it might change things too much. And I wouldn't be here now with who I am with. I wouldn't have done the things I have done, and really, that would be a bummer. And, really, life has been pretty good. I've been very lucky. Compared to many.
If this letter is on target, it's exactly 30 years ago - January 1977 - I/you... you're still 14, going into Year 10, and it sucks being a late developer. Yes, I still remember! How could I forget? It's fresh in my mind again because I am watching a daughter (yes, a daughter!) going through the same thing. (And on her behalf I hate those other girls flaunting their stuff, believe me! - probably more than she does. ) By the time you're 40, you'll be relieved that you had all those years of not menstruating, believe me... and boobs.. meh.. well, they bounce when you run.
Convinced now it's you.. me?
What about Mum not letting you shave your legs? Pluck up the courage now, girl, and rebel a bit. (God knows, your sister is going to do far worse than shave her legs without Mum's permission.) You're really too much of a goody two shoes. Tell her now she is causing you ridiculous teenage angst - and that as you'll do it by the time you're 18 anyway, you may as well not be so damned self conscious all the way through high school. And tell her that waxing is the way to go - and her own legs wouldn't be so prickly if she did that. Funny how she only discovered that, oh, about 10 years ago! And she has no idea what she put me through.
Do you believe it's really me now? Who else could possibly know about this trivial stuff?
OK.. so what else can I warn you about. Sweet sixteen and never been kissed is the way it's going to be. I'm afraid. Yeah, that sucks a bit too. And you're going to get sucked in with the first one - it's a stupid dare, the bastard, and you'll feel humiliated. (And it wasn't even a french kiss! - so it was rather confusing.) He's going to turn up several years later at college, though, and take you out for dinner to apologise. (Even though he's married by then! - Thank god he didn't marry the stupid girl he was sort of with at the time he kissed you. And you accidentally suggest a restaurant that you couldn't afford as a student. Hah!)
And by god, you make up for it after that. Perhaps you could be a just bit more discerning... but I suppose, before you meet your handsome prince, you have to kiss a lot of toads. Just, maybe, you could skip a couple of the dickheads along the way!
Don't worry, you'll think long and hard about the one you end up with (and it won't be the one at college you thought was the one, because that turned out to be a mistake too - and he ends up hurting you.) The 'right one' is the one you um and ahh about kissing because you don't want to ruin a friendship. It might be a ridiculous start to a relationship, poor guy, but you'll still be together 21 years later.. And, belatedly, you realise that you have found someone who is like you.. who doesn't need drink or drugs to get high. And who doesn't get off on smoky bars and pubs or the nightclub scene.
So, maybe, at college, you could have the guts to rebel against the peer pressure a bit. It doesn't get you anywhere. You will throw up all day if you drink too much cheap alcohol, so you could save yourself some misery there. (And enjoy decent alcohol years down the track when you can afford good stuff.) And the couple of times you try pot - god, it so isn't worth it. (You'll know from the time you get all paranoid, and have the sense to think it's all a bad idea anyway... )
Go with the gut feeling you have about the outdoors stuff - the abseiling and bushwalking and that. And working on those Sport and Rec camps is the way to go, because that's the important connection. (Just.. do ourselves a favour.. don't ever go out with that wanky guy who is quite a few years older. He was a dickhead.. really, even if he did pilot a plane and take you up in one!)
No.. it's the guy who is actually a couple of years younger! The first time you meet him he is just out of school, and such a "boy". But the next time.. well.. it's worth accidentally finding yourself trotting out that pathetic line "Don't I know you".. He teaches you how to get high on adrenalin, and how to challenge yourself in a way you never even dreamed of through your childhood. And, go you (go me?!) .. you will take up that challenge.
There are a couple of other things I wish I'd done differently around high school age. Meh.. I'm probably a bit late to say 'get Mum and Dad to let you try a team sport'. I should be going back to primary school age for that one - but what primary school age kid can dictate to parents who make you cut back from two activities (ballet and tennis) to just the one once you hit high school - because 'now you're in high school you have to study hard.' But if you could try something else other than just tennis before you get much older, then it will give you more social sport options later in life. Trust me. (And resist the golf idea, just because they play. Golf sucks.) Neither tennis or golf is a team sport.
And the other thing? Let me tell you now, that while doing well academically at school is good, (and it's what is expected of you, as you seem to be doing so well at school) that it's not the only thing in life. The HSC isn't the be all and end all. Really, truly. There's no point if you don't know what you want to do, and end up not doing something you want to do, and then not being anything.
Noone suggested it at the time, and you probably won't listen anyway, but it's not a bad idea to consider what might be a good career to have if you have a family. Of course you can't imagine having a family when you're 14, or even 17.... You won't want to admit that one of your life goals is to be a mum. How uncool would that be? But let's face it, most people do end up marrying and having kids, and having a job that fits in with school hours... and school holidays.. isn't such a bad idea. Hint hint.
Don't do anything too radical. Because there's one path in your life you don't want to change. You won't believe me when I tell you that will raft rivers, do canoe marathons, cross country skiing.. canyoning.. and then, years later again, you'll be riding tandem bikes on 500km bike rides with your husband and kids.
Who'da thunk it.
PS. I remember doing the calculations for how old I was going to be when it was the year 2000, and I couldn't imagine being that old. Guess what kid... you get that old.. and more!!
Thanks for the 'introduction' to miscmum. I read her 'about' page and plan to go back tomorrow to read more.
For lots of difficult reasons right now, I don't think I can write a 'Dear Me' post right now. I'm sure I'd say things I was sorry for later, and then I'd have to write myself another hindsight post to make up for it. That probably doesn't make sense.
Anyway, I wanted to make sure you knew how lovely I thought your post was. A joy to read.
While I have a few more regrets and resentments I could have offloaded... really, in hindsight, I've had an easy life.. so far.. compared to many... and it behoves me to be grateful...
The part about your mom not allowing you to shave your legs, well that would be funny if I didn't know other people with that same problem. Cheap alcohol, that's a given isn't it?
You really did a great job. If it were a contest, I'd bet on your entry.
And so I've sworn, of course, not to put my daughters through the same thing - and here's Ms 13.. couldn't give a stuff (yet) about shaving her legs or underarms! Crazy isn't it. Anyway, at least she knows I will let her, and damn well pay for waxing as well! If only the rest of the parenting gig was so easy....
great piece of writing, you have me inspired.
Nice to learn moer about you and all your sporting acievements - how fantastic. I feel like a sloth next to you.