A letter to Sally, aged 16

Writing-Workshop-Badge Dear 16 Year Old Me,

So, bad luck on getting sent home from school.

It probably wasn’t that smart to get drunk before double biology, even if Miss Stocks did make you stand up in class while she announced: “Class, this is what failure looks like.”

And if you don't mind me saying, it was a bit silly to keep that bottle of vodka in your own locker, particularly given the fact it was also where you were keeping your stash of faked absence notes. Muppet.

On the bright side, it might not seem like it, but your parents really are going to get over it. Eventually.

Over the next 20 years, you’re going to get a bit smarter. For starters, you’ll realise that parachute pants tucked into pixie boots are never an acceptable fashion choice, and that the whole Richard Marx thing? Is just a really, really unfortunate phase.

In other news, guess what? You’re going to have sex. I know, right? Actual sex, with an actual person of the opposite sex. I know that after five years of all girls’ education this seems like a distant and impossible dream, but you are actually going to do IT. Several times, in fact.

Right now, I know you’re pretty miserable. You feel like you’re not wired the same way as other people, and you worry about whether your unconventional start in life somehow shows, that everyone else is better at this stuff than you. You think that drinking and ditching school to hang out in strange cities and university libraries will make you feel happier, but it won’t. Especially if you keep reading Thomas Hardy and JD Salinger. 

The good news is that skipping school isn't a big loss. You're not missing much. Honestly? You’re never going to need quadratic equations again. Ever. Or moles. But you’ll never regret knowing all the words to every single Smiths album and being able to quote They Might Be Giants off the top of your head.

In another year you’ll be heading off to University and it’s all going to be so, so much better. You’re going to meet other people who don’t quite fit in, and you’ll realise those are the best sort of people to know. You’re going to have some of the most amazing, interesting, funny and smart friends anyone ever had. Honest. 

Some day, you’re going to get to live in the places you dream of, and you’re going to travel. In the next 10 years you’ll work in Canada, drink cocktails in New York, sail on a steamboat down the Mississippi, ride a snowmobile in Finland, almost get run over in Paris, stay in a palace in Italy, and go swimming in Casablanca. It’s going to be awesome. Just wait and see.

Sally, aged 35

PS: Make the most of your brother. He’s not going to be around forever, and when he’s gone you’ll miss him every day.

[This post is written as part of Josie from Sleep is for the Weak's weekly writing workshop. Head on over there to join in!]

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