Dear Lauren, aged 11 years and 8 months
It’s Lauren, aged 21 years and 8 months here! I can happily report that the next (last?) ten years look nothing like The Hunger Games, or any of those other post-apocalyptic books you’re obsessing over.
I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but I know you’re a worrier, so I thought some advice might come in handy as you navigate the next (last?) decade. Some of it is silly, some of it is serious, all of it is important – so grab a plate of BN biscuits, curl up in a corner and read on…
- First things first: the teeth will (almost) get sorted. The punched bunny look will disappear, but only through years of braces and retainers. You’ll still worry about them in ten years time – but at least by then you can find gumshields that fit.
- So, secondary school. Bad news – exams never get easier or less nerve-wracking. Good news – you seem to do quite well in them. You might not ever grow to love secondary school (hard to believe now I know, you goody-two-shoes) but stick with it. You will make gorgeous friends and find phenomenal teachers (keep hanging around Politics and English). You will also miss every single deadline, have several panic attacks in the loos and really have to grit your teeth to get through sixth form. Keep at it. The hockey, laughter and cookies are worth it.
- Speaking of hockey – grab that stick and don’t let go. You won’t swim for Great Britain, and you’re unlikely to be the next big thing in lacrosse, but you’re alright at hockey. The confidence you feel on the pitch will begin to seep into other areas of life, and it will keep you going when the proverbial hits the fan. Which brings me nicely onto a crucial life lesson you repeatedly ignore…
- OTHER PEOPLE’S EMOTIONS ARE NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Countless therapists will tell you this in countless ways – I’m not sure you will ever listen, but its worth a try.
- Spoiler alert – you’re not married. Your failure to secure a date to the Year Six PGL disco was a sign of things to come. But, you’ll hone the art of third wheeling, and will dish out relationship advice left right and centre despite having no experience whatsoever. Maybe start listening to some of it yourself?
- You are not Hermione Granger, and you never will be. Get over it.
- I know you think you hate parties and social events that involve more than five people, but I promise they can be fun. However – for the love of God, learn to handle your drink. Stop when you get giggly; by time you’re on a table, things have gone too far. Water is your friend. Anyone offering you vodka is not.
- Your body is not a representation of your worth. Don’t delete the pictures from that America holiday because you think you ate too many pancakes; don’t obsess over other pictures when you didn’t eat enough of anything. Eat the pancakes. Enjoy the pictures. Move on.
- Write things down. Write passionately, write angrily, write gloriously. It doesn’t have to leave your bedroom, and a lot of it will be drivel, but it will help you make sense of a nonsensical world. It might even be the answer to ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ (assuming the clarinet CDs/ swimming medals/ fairy cake business fail to provide a sensible income.)
- The next decade will be pretty rough, but it will also be pretty magnificent. Grab hold of the things that matter. Strive to be a better feminist, environmentalist, sister and friend, but forgive yourself when you slip up. Forgive others for their slip ups, but don’t worry about leaving those behind who can’t do the same. Wear big hoops, stay firm in your beliefs and don’t stop eating chocolate, no matter how hard it might sometimes seem.
Love you Loz.
From, Lauren x