A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s a bit of a fad, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Dear M,

You won’t recognise me, though I recognise you all too well.

Right now you’re breezing through O-levels though you’ve been bored to tears at school for 3 years.  They’ve not stretched you and they’re pissed off at you for not conforming to the rigid structures that they insist are called learning.

What you have discovered is the ability to work hard.  For now it’s manual labour on weekends and school holidays.  You’re loving working for Jim and alongside Eddie.  Learn from these guys, as role models they have the wisdom of life which you’ll really appreciate later.

Remember that ability to work hard, I know you won’t regain the work ethic when it comes to school.  Everyone seems to have everything mapped out for you, making career choices you play along with because you don’t want to cause ructions and you haven’t a clue yourself what you want to do.  You know that their choices are wrong for you, but can’t say why.

Don’t worry if the shit hits the fan, it will sort itself out because you learned how to work and survive.  I won’t hide the fact that it will be tough learning through the university of life.

You know that ZX81 you’ve spent a lot of time with ?  It will sound really weird to hear that what you’ve taught yourself with it will eventually be the key to your future.

Life’s about to get tough for 10 years but the rewards will come.  How do you fancy living in New York at some point?

Those operas you went to with family until recently that you secretly enjoyed.  Don’t forget them.  Right now it’s Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and I know you’ll be surprised to find that musical taste fading.  Opera and classical will come back to you as the rewards for making it through the tough years.

ScrollNow I do have to broach a subject you hope no one knows about.  Although you enjoy them to some extent, you’re also hiding behind all those masculine activities.  The hiking and fell running, helping to run outward bound courses.  You might not believe it that from the future I’m in, getting 14 year olds to abseil down rock faces at 2 am would have you prosecuted.  So enjoy your balmy times.

Despite all these activities, you have a secret.  You’ve always wondered what if you’d been born a girl.  When you were still small enough you experimented with mother’s clothes, shoes and makeup.  Ok, right now that thought makes you embarrassed and defensive.  Peer pressure suggests that even having vague thoughts about such things must mean you are a homosexual and that’s the kiss of death.  It’s pure ignorance but you’re not going to be able to do anything about that.  You’ve seen how the schoolyard bullies react to the effeminate kid.  I know you don’t participate but it might have been nice to have stood up for him just the once.  I know why you didn’t, you were thinking there but for the grace of God, go I.

Later in life you will learn some very strange answers to those questions you have repressed.  All I will say is that they will be enlightening and liberating and they will come slowly over many years.  By and large you will enjoy the experiences of learning those answers.

You’re not close to your parents right now.  Hell, few 16 year olds are.  You know you’re about to be a big disappointment to them, you’re just postponing the inevitable day of doom.

Things have a way of working themselves out.  They will be proud of you, eventually.  It’s your independence of thought and disdain of the crowd and their fads that will see you succeed and be fully accepted by them.

You’ve a long road ahead of you ploughing your solitary furrow.  The good times will come and you’ll meet some wonderful people along the way.


The future you.