I recently read a piece in Happiful magazine where Denise Welch wrote a letter to her 16 year old self. That had to be an interesting exercise, Denise certainly thought so. So, here’s my letter to me, aged 16, from me, aged 40.
You probably won’t believe this right now, as you sit quietly in the corner of Silhouette, looking on enviously as everyone else hits the dance floor with such finesse when DJ Sonya spins Fool’s Gold by the Stone Roses…but in a few years time you’re going to be up on that podium, shamelessly shaking your booty a la Beyonce (she’s only about 12 right now but she’s going to be as big as Madonna when she grows up).
Thing is, when you’re up there shaking your booty you don’t need to take it seriously. There’s no finesse at play. You’re letting go. And you won’t look like the cool kid you so desperately aspire to be right now (in fact, you’ll be told you dance like a woman possessed – not sure you were going for that?)
But you’ll realise how boring the ‘cool’ aspiration is soon. In fact, the best dancing you’ll EVER do is in your flowery pyjamas, in your kitchen to Kylie Minogue. Sorry, but that’s 100% true. And your friends who love the Stone Roses and the Senseless Things will open up about their love of B*witched and S Club 7.
That wobble you had on Prinny Ave last year – that wasn’t a one off unfortunately. But you’ll learn how to live with it when it happens and you’ll stop wasting time being scared about it happening. You’ll get some help along the way and panic will become less prominent. It will be overtaken by the prominence of garden centres and cats and backyard hens.
And you do have interesting things to say, so why sit so quietly all the time?
You do a fabulously terrible impression of John McEnroe, you can speak passionately about the horrors of pyroclastic flows and regale tales of nightmares that feature the Incredible Hulk. You thought you had no idea how to talk to boys, to anyone, but you just misunderstood. One day, your husband and your step son will be overjoyed with this conversation.
There was some degree of everyone else putting on the act as well. Rare punk rock vinyl and who at school was only listening to the mainstream indie pop were the topics du jour. Volcanoes and John McEnroe would have been WAYYYY more interesting topics of conversation.
Desperate to speak, but mute, at that pub table with your outgoing mates while nervously sipping half a Carling (don’t worry, your taste improves as time goes on). You’ll progress onto bottles of Lambrini (remember, your taste buds will mature with time) and god knows what else that’s being passed under the table to boost your chatter and false sense of confidence.
It’s not really the best way to do it, but you won’t do it forever.
In trying to break free of the shyness you’re going to do some things you might regret. But try not to. You’ll experience good and bad, and eventually you will learn to value yourself. And you will fall in love with a good man who values you too. Not for drunkenly booty shaking like Beyonce for five minutes on a podium, but for spinning around like Kylie, wearing flowery pyjamas and no make-up and singing badly.
And you will meet some really tough challenges along the way. There will be moments when you think you can’t take any more. You’ll feel broken and exhausted.. But those feelings will serve a purpose. Because you will beat those challenges and the sunlight will be brighter and stronger because you’ve seen real life.
You’ll love more than you could ever comprehend. You’ll make mistakes and you’ll learn to be a parent in a way you never imagined.
You’ll swap your obsession with Courtney Love to an obsession with garden birds.
You’ll swap your Spiders nightclub membership for a gardener’s club membership.
You’ll find peace in nature and writing and early nights.
Your restlessness will follow you around into adulthood like a yapping Yorkshire terrier biting at your heels, but you’ll use it to be productive. Most of the time.
But you won’t be perfect, not ever. You won’t be happy consistently. But you will live. You will experience life and your spirit will drive you.
Try to feel it now, whatever it is, because now will never happen again.
Love, Lucy x
PS – the girl who called you ‘moonface’ was just jealous.