The Guardian newspaper is running a fun story on readers' letters to their younger selves, and while I may not be the wisest of people, I think there are some things I would have loved my younger self to have known:
To Bollybutton, roughly 10 years ago:
1. You're in your late teens now and still an ugly duckling. You've in fact convinced yourself that you'll never be attractive and are okay with that, which is an achievement since even I have to tell you, you are quite hideous right now. But that's mostly your fault because you reject any form of beautification as anti feminist. On that front, you should know it does get better, and actually this period will turn out to round you off nicely as a person, because you know you can't wing it on looks so you focus on other aspects of your personality.
2. The most shocking thing I have to tell you from the future is that you are working in a bank. Yes, as much as it pains me to say this, your parents were right about your career choices, and a lot of other things. You should not have studied journalism at university. Actually, you should have not gone to uni. You should have started working at the local paper if you were really serious about the journalism thing.
But you do go to university where you pretty much waste all your free time doing nothing. You should have joined the uni newspaper at least, you lazy bum.
3. Since you didn't listen and went to university, my note from the future is to let your hair down more. Smoke some pot! Have some drinks! Go to all the parties! You know how you say now you are determined to live your life without ever touching a drop of alcohol? Well, that gets blown to dust after you meet the love of your life in 2004, and all you think is: "Why did I wait so long to try this?"
4. On that note, and this will shock you to death because you are so dead set on this one, you don't save sex till marriage either, and all you think is: "Why did I wait so long to try this?"
5. At the end of your university life, you meet someone. Now, trust me, you didn't like this guy when you met him at the start of your university life, so why change a good thing. But seriously, you made this more complicated than it had to be.
Either sleep with him or cut yourself loose right now. Since you're going to get yourself tangled up anyway, don't bother moping about it for as long as you did, it really is no big deal in the end. There are worse things in life than getting cheated on. *slap* Get over it!
6. Real life will come as a terrible shock to you and you will sink to such a miserable low at the end of 2003 that you'll wish death upon yourself every day, mostly because all your illusions got shattered at the same time and you can't cope. It does start to make more sense though.
7. Look in the mirror. See how flawless your skin is? Why didn't you notice that more, especially when all your girlfriends told you how great your skin was? Do you think you got away with the spots thing because you're done with puberty? Well. I've got news for you, girl!
8. You're going to be one of those women who takes care of her men like he's a little baby.
9. Don't be so angry. The world goes on, and though right now you believe that if you fan the flames of your passion for change, something will happen, the truth is it won't. Observe the world, keep going to protests, but don't be so convinced that people like you will change something.
10. Go home to visit your parents more often. I mean, you do well, but in a couple of years you're going to up and move to another country (yipee!) but when you do this, you will acutely regret all those weekends and holidays when you could have been at home with your family. Spending half-term with your friends will not be what you remember. You'll just regret not spending that half-term with your sisters and parents.
11. Don't you talk to your mother like that!
12. Also, enjoy your trips to the Home Country more often. In these years, you get to go for four, sometimes five or six weeks at a time. Don't roll around complaining that you're starting to feel bored and missing your friends in the UK. Since those years have passed, you have not managed to go back for longer than 10 days.
You think the Home Country will always be there to visit, but if only you could see the mess of a country it will become. If you knew this, you'd spend your whole summer holidays there. I can't even tell you if the Home Country will still exist in another 5 years, let alone 10, because I don't know any more.
13. On these visits, spend more time with your Uncle and Aunty. They won't be around much longer.
14. Make more of an effort to talk to your Dad in his mother tongue. The man has spent upwards of 20 years talking to you in English. You will learn the comforting effects of hearing your mother tongue when you are forced to learn a new language, and you'll start restricting your conversations with your father to his dialect, but you're pretty hopeless at it. If you start now, you might do better.
15. You finally get to go to the Olympics! And it sparks a domino affect that changes your life.
16. You turn out to be a lot braver than you thought, and do a lot of the things which you used to say "I could never do that"
17. Boots discontinuing your favourite hair mousse is not cause for firing off page long emails to your friends about what to do, how your hair looks today, etc etc. How the hell can you spend so much energy on such pointless things?
18. You will never again get the social opportunities university offers you. You could learn so much through the student societies - new dances, new languages, new cultures, music. This chance will never, ever reappear. Don't waste it. Out of all your friends who you waste your time with instead of growing as a person, only about 3 or 4 will still be with you in 2009.
19. Be nicer to your older sister. You will learn later what she's trying to cope with.
20. To finish, in 2009 you will be happy. You're still worrying over stupid things which in 10 years you'll feel like an idiot about. But you are happy. You feel reborn. You have learnt to see beautiful things all around you and enjoy good company as if it were a glass of cold water on a hot day. You are buzzing with optimism for the future. You value life for what it is in all its colours, a precious gift which we only get one chance at. You don't miss the past and your childhood as much as you did 10 years ago. You still sit around on your ass too much though.
What do you wish you could tell your teenage self?