05 December 2009

Dear me

In this year of big anniversaries, here's another one: it's 30 years since I left school. Yowza - how did that happen so quickly! Virtually half of that period has been spent as a mother too, which has made time go faster I think, as I have three young human beings about me growing up at an alarming rate.

There's not been a reunion to mark the 30th anniversary. I finished my highschool education in Perth, and I would have made the effort to get over there to catch up with the people I did my TAE with (I think it was called the TAE!) if there had been one organised. I have been looking at some Facebook photos of a reunion held by another school I went to in Perth. The organisers of this one have posted a stack of old photos featuring skinny 1970s teenagers smoking, wearing shell chokers, frizzy hair and dodgy footwear. In sharp contrast, there are also lots of pictures of the reunion itself, smiley people well into their 40s, nicely dressed and hugging one another in wine-induced merriment.

I wasn't tempted to go this reunion, as I only went to this school for a year, and I hated it. As well as being 14, my parents had just split up, I had moved from the other side of the country, and I felt like a greasy gawky dork. I made very few friends and had an utterly miserable time. I begged my mother to be allowed to move to another school, which she did. It was a great move, and I spent the rest of my secondary education feeling a whole lot happier.

I must be in the mood of reminiscing about my life as a teenager, because I was recently drawn to a little British book called Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self. This is a collection of very amusing letters that famous people have written to their younger selves. Of course, in this modern age, there's also a blog and a Facebook page to go with it, with the author encouraging people to write their own 'Dear Me' letters. So here's mine...

Dear Mandy

At the moment you're really enjoying school, now you feel you belong somewhere again. You'll keep feeling that for a while as you move into university. It's a feeling that will come and go, no matter what age you are, so enjoy it while you have it.

You're right in the middle of discovering the writing of William Faulkner, ee cummings, Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. You'll still love these writers when you're a lot older; you'll never get into Tolkien though. (Just nod a lot when your husband raves about these books.) This newfound love of literature and words is going to shape what you end up doing career-wise ... but you're not going to be a teacher. You'll never quite shake off that feeling that you'd like to be a writer.

You've made some great friends recently. I'm happy to tell you that you'll still be close to a few of them throughout your adult life, even if you don't live in the same city, and don't get to see each other for years and years. Hold on to the self-belief that you've got a great capacity for friendship and loyalty, because it's going to be sorely tested quite a few times in the future. You'll regain it though, and make lots of great friends on the way.

The not so great news (for you) is that you're not going to have a boyfriend for a long time yet. You're still far too self-conscious to notice that boys do see you, even when you're feeling better about yourself once you get to university. Here's a clue - it's all to do to your father. You'll work it out in the end, but listen to Mum when she suggests that counselling is a good idea. It will hold you in good stead too in embracing a long marriage.

It's still going to take quite a few years for those pimples to clear up, or for you to work out how to deal with that fine hair. I know you won't believe now, but you'll live in jeans when you're older even though you can't find any to suit you now (and won't throughout the 1980s). Stay away from pleats. And keep strong about having pale skin - I'm proud that you're staying firm against all that pressure to coat yourself in babyoil to get a tan. You'll be relieved that you didn't. You're never going to master wearing eyeshadow. You'll look young for your age until you are a sleep deprived mother - it's a slippery slope from then on I'm afraid.

There's a lot of great stuff to come, as well as some rocky times. You're going to get your heart broken. You'll have some regrets. You'll wish that you'd travelled more and taken a few more risks socially. That's life. Just make sure you appreciate it as it unfolds.

Two more things ... you are going to hate being called Mandy before too long. You'll insist that everyone starts calling you by your proper name on the day you leave school. Stay firm. And be kind to yourself and those you love, even with that temper.

Love always, Amanda

PS. Oh, and it would be a great idea if you don't fritter away all your money on clothes, magazines and fripperies in your 20s and scrape together enough money on a deposit on a flat in Subiaco or Shenton Park. Think how much it would be worth now!


Kath Lockett said...

What a lovely letter. I might copy that idea for a blog in January (when Doggy December ends)

Pamela said...

Lovely letter Amanda-J! :-)

It released some memories ... like the stacks of great mags you always had; the super salad making Mum that was totally facinating to North American me who learnt that salads are indeed incredible in the right hands; e e cummings (still a total fav!); English and Lit with Deryn and Richard (Clare ended up having Richard too!); belonging and not belonging; and Dad's impact on self-belief ...

I'm so pleased to see how kind you are to your 16 old self ... she was cool - even if untanned in the coconut oily 70s!


delamare said...

Thanks Kath - and feel free to steal the idea (it's not mine after all!).

And PJ (do you still get called that?), thanks so much! Lots of memories featuring you from that time, including the day we met in year 10, Chinese New Year, and lengthy discussions about crushes! And English and Lit of course! Hope we see each other in person soon!