Letter To My Younger Self
16th July 2014
What would you say to your 16-year-old self if you could go back in time? That's what the Big Issue asked me three years ago...so I wrote a letter to my younger self. This morning, I went back to read what advice the 31-year-old me had given to a much younger me...here it is...
I know you hate surprises but I’m not going to tell you exactly how your life is turning out. I’m guessing that’s annoyed you because you love knowing everything but this is for your own good. I want you to continue going with your gut. It’ll be right most of the time.
I do have some shocking news to break to you though. You won’t end up becoming a doctor. Or one of Janet Jackson’s backing dancers. This won’t be because you aren’t clever or good enough. Your mum just ends up making a good case against both career options and you listen to her. Don’t worry, you will still nail your A Levels next year and then, you’ll enter a world you’d never seriously considered before. I warn you though - those childhood appearances on Blue Peter will eventually come back to haunt you. As for the dreams of medicine and dancing – I’m afraid you’ll always get jealous when watching ER (you’ll be glad to know the series goes on for years and George Clooney gets even hotter) and you’ll continue to bust out the moves in your living room when no one is watching.
As you grow older, you’ll be told you can achieve pretty much anything you want if you are prepared to put in the hours. But not many people will tell you this - no one can have it all, all of the time. There will be moments in life when you are forced to choose between work and family. If you choose work, family will understand – they are very supportive. But don’t be afraid to put family first.
Try not to judge others because situations are rarely black and white and even good people can do bad things. Instead, watch people. Listen to their stories. Empathise. Sympathise. Be a good friend.
I know you’ve had to deal with mean girls who make you feel horrible about yourself. That is just how some people are and you cannot change them. You can change your reaction to them though. It is better to have 5 amazing friends than 25 okay ones so cherish your great mates and don’t feel bad about dumping the toxic ones. Surround yourself with people you respect and make you laugh.
You know how mum tells you your mouth will be the making and breaking of you? Well she’s right. You don’t have to tell everyone exactly what you’re thinking all the time. I know the way mum and dad guide and discipline you can be frustrating at times, but you’ll eventually realise just how good your upbringing was. And believe it or not, your brother will eventually become a little less annoying and you’ll end up the best of friends.
I know being part of two cultures can be hard and sometimes you feel like you don’t belong in either, but it will become easier – so easy that you don’t even think about it most days. Be proud of your heritage and appreciate what your family sacrificed to give you the opportunities you have today. Stop wishing your skin was fairer. You’ll eventually realise that most people in Britain spend lots of time and money tanning their skin to try to make it looks just like yours. You’ll start wearing saris soon and no other item of clothing will ever make you feel more beautiful than six yards of material wrapped around you.
Learn from other people’s triumphs and mistakes. More importantly, learn from your own mistakes. Learn how to smile a bit more because you have one of those faces that looks bitchy and bored when you’re not smiling. And it won’t improve.
Shoes will be a love you and mum share for life. Cricket will become so much more than just something you and dad share. Your brother’s room may look like a shrine to Arsenal now but eventually you’ll become the Gooner and your brother will forget who Arsene Wenger even is.
I know your head must be spinning right now, but there are just a few more rules you must live by. No matter how charming or funny a boy is, if he’s a bad kisser, walk away. Kissing is too precious to waste your time engaging in bad play. Remember that life is a journey, not a destination so take lots of photos, dance like no one’s watching, laugh until it can hurt no more and love like you’ve never been hurt before.
I’m going to leave you with a bit of honesty – you will never be tall, your bum will never be small and the stretch marks will never fade. But you, my girl, will be just fine.
Your 31-year-old self.
P.S. Get dad to buy as many shares in Apple Inc. as he can afford. Trust me, I’m not a doctor.