Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A letter to my past self

A few weeks ago Sarah wrote this brilliant post about how her past, present, and future selves might differ.  It immediately got the old cogs turning...

February 1993
I was fourteen years old: gawky, awkward, totally ill-at-ease*.  My parents were in the process of splitting up and I had found out in January that my mum was a lesbian (note in diary that night: "how can she do this to me?  I have so much to worry about already, like I'm sure Lamin [boy I fancied] looked at me yesterday!"  Ah, the self-absorption of youth).  I was beginning to lose interest in studying relentlessly, or at least beginning to realise that my school was so lacking in intellectual challenge that there was no point trying.  I listened to a lot of Take That and East 17, wore baggy denim shirts over black leggings with Doc Marten boots, and spent endless amounts of time fretting over whether my best friends really liked me or not.  When I thought of the future, all I dreamt of was escaping Bradford.  Going to university was a given, and I imagined that I would finally find my kindred spirits there.

*These things are all still true, actually, but I've become much better at hiding them behind behing a veneer of self-confidence.

February 2003
University having failed entirely to offer up kindred spirits, I'd looked instead to the alternative music scene in Leicester and had spent the past five years entirely immersed in a night-time world of clubs, gigs and parties, working two or three jobs to make ends meet and spending every spare moment with my gang of friends.  In 2003 I was living with my then-best friend, Becky, in her terraced house, where we spent a lot of time watching America's Next Top Model, drinking cheap white wine from the Co-op, and becoming embroiled in a feud with our neighbour due to his weekly drumming circles.  By the age of 24 I was beginning to tire of the party lifestyle and had decided (based largely, I'm afraid, on repeated viewings of Teachers) to try out a new career.  In February 2003 I was in the process of applying for a place on the PGCE course.  I was coming out of an eight year period of depression and medication and I had also - finally - moved on from the incredibly toxic guy on whom I had wasted most of my early twenties.  If asked where I'd be in ten years time, I would have hoped to be teaching and living nearer to home in Yorkshire, in my own house, and travelling a lot during my holidays.

February 2013
I'm somewhat baffled by the fact that I will be 35 in a few months; isn't that, like, well old?  I do not feel old, or all that more mature (my sense of humour still skews towards the 'puerile teenage boy' school of comedy), but I do feel a lot more sorted and - dare I say it - happier than I did at 24.  The last decade has seen me lose some old friends, gain many brilliant new ones, become a teacher, buy a house, learn to drive, do a lot of travelling... all the things 24 year old me would have hoped for.  When I put it like that, I feel pretty damn proud.  I'm currently annoyingly loved-up with a gorgeous boy, spending a lot of time shuttling between Leicester and the continent to visit him.  Ah yes, about that... the only thing I didn't manage to achieve in the last decade was leaving Leicester.  I tried... oh how I tried, but it wasn't to be, so I've made my home here and made my peace with that fact (for now, anyway!).

That being said, when I wrote to my future self I expressed a hope that I would finally - by the age of 44 - have escaped the gravitational pull of the East Midlands.  I'd be interested to know whether I'll still be teaching, as I go through phases of loving my job and then there are times when I hate it.  But, like Sarah, I'm quite happy to take life as it comes over the next decade. 

During the past twelve months I've started to address some massive questions in my life: do I want kids?  Do I want to be in a relationship?  Is a debt-free life attainable?  (Answers so far: no, yes, maybe)  It'll be fascinating to see whether those answers remain the same over the next decade.  What I'm most interested to find out in 2023, though, is whether I finally feel any more adult than I did at 14, 24 and 34.  I kind of hope that the answer is "no" and that, like Peter Pan, I never grow up.


  1. A brilliant post. I think a bit of self-reflection is always good. I'm still in awe that I'm 27 How did that happen? Age seems to creep up ever faster doesn't it!

    1. Don't get me started on that! Why does a year seem endless when you're 12, but goes by in a flash once you pass 25?

  2. Such a good idea for a post. It's so inspiring to read about someone who has achieved their goals... The past ten years in my life have been rather eventful, I'm kind of hoping my next decade will be a bit more peaceful!

    Liz xx

    1. It hadn't even occurred to me that I'd achieved many of my goals until I sat down to write this: it made me feel quite chuffed with myself!

    2. I enjoyed writing mine because I was still sort of measuring myself against the goals I'd had as a teenager, which don't fit who I am now; writing it made me realise how many of the things I *really* want I have achieved.

    3. Am about to publish mine now too, you guys inspired me!