In the run up to and in the wake of International Women’s Day – 8th March – various social media outlets encouraged their users to create videos or write letters containing pearls of wisdom they would share with their younger selves. Alas, I missed the boat to get involved with that but it got me thinking. I don’t much see the point in writing to a me who no longer exists and everyone knows that when an older person tries to impart wisdom on the yoof of today their words will be met with an earnest nod and a large pinch of salt. Youth is the time for making mistakes and learning lessons; for seeing the good in everything and for muddling through the trials and tribulations that bring us crashing into adulthood.
Before my cup half full of innocence sours from experience – so dramatic! – I thought I might harness what youthful exuberance I’ve clung onto and write a note to the future me. It’s a bit personal, I hope that’s ok. Fingers crossed it won’t make you as red-faced reading it as I felt writing it. Here goes…
Cast your mind back a bit to 31. I know, I know: as you read this 31 is a good long while ago but as I write, it is the exact age we are, give or take a few weeks and I’ve gone and gotten the nerve to share a few of my thoughts with you.
From our teens until now there have been parts of our body we’ve hated. I wonder how many of the superficial niggles have given way to the aches and pains that come from being around for a long time? With this in mind I thought I’d remind you of how far your body has come three decades in:
Let’s work our way up from those big feet, shall we? By this point our (mercifully rhythmic) flippers have carried us across dance floors and sandy beaches, through puddles and paddles with dear family and friends. Our legs are strong and have climbed mountains, run marathons and, somewhat miraculously, kept me upright after one too many glasses of vino.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a thigh gap but then again, I don’t think many A-list celebrities have had them without the aid of Photoshop and that is A-ok. We, like them, have other things to worry about.
I hope I have continued to have the constitution of an ox to deal with the many weird and wonderful things we’ve put in our gob in the name of culinary experimentation. Our arms don’t quite match Madonna’s but they do a pretty good job at carting kit around and giving good, nay, great hugs that can share in celebration and give comfort in times of distress. Hairdressers are forever trying to thin our hair out – are they still at it with future me? I love my thick hair! People pay a fortune to boost their bonces yet hairdressers are always dying to take the volume away from me. They wouldn’t do it to Beyonce and they’ll not do it to me! Hopefully, by the time you read this they won’t have worn us down to the point of defeat. I think they are just annoyed not to be able to cross-sell their volume-boosting wonder products to me.
As you read this we might be on the verge of some kind of mid-life crisis, wanting to go a bit wild. Please do not get any more surface piercings. They catch on everything and are a total pain in the ass. Remember the time we got an infection in ours and mum had to cut them out with the kitchen scissors? Not cool in our 20s, tragic in our 40s.
By 31 we’ve had our fair share of bosses. Some have been incredible and helped us to reach for the stars. We’ve also had one or two bosses we would rather forget but please don’t. Remember how they humiliated and degraded their staff in a bid to feel a bit better about themselves or further their own careers. I’m no expert in hiring staff but I am certain about the kind of boss I never hope to become. Being made to feel worthless is shitty in your 20s, shitty in your 30s and I’ll bet it’s shitty every decade after that.
While we are on the subject of business, right now women the world over are demanding equal pay for all people. Patricia Arquette recently gave a rousing speech as she picked up her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress that raised Meryl Streep to her feet. She ended her speech with a demand that women be recognised and paid the same as the men who work in the same roles as we do. I so wish that future me remembers such speeches as being a catalyst for positive change. On the off chance that we are still struggling, I am putting my faith in you, future me, to keep that fight going and not to settle for less than we and future generations deserve.
The main reason I want to write this letter to you – to me – is hope.
I hope that by the time I read this letter back at least some of the dreams and big ideas that currently reside inside my heart and my head will have become a reality.
I hope that in the time it takes between now and then I will have maintained the courage of my convictions to see my plans through. I hope my mind will still be my own and my imagination will be an even bigger playground than it is now. I hope you won’t allow my optimism to be replaced by cynicism. I hope I still sing. Are we married? If so, did we meet on Tinder? (I think I can guess the answer to this question already but I have been known to be surprised before!)
Is there a wee you and me making their own mark on the world? If so, I hope we are dressing our mini me as finely as our mum dressed us. Apart from that one time she sent us to a trampoline birthday party in a dress. I hope our children are as loved as we have been. I hope we champion them as much as our parents did us, at all the stages of our life.
Do we have a home of our own yet? Please tell me I am not still living in a houseshare. Right now, I go to Pret for lunch with alarming regularity and live in rented accommodation with three other adults, all of whom wish we were living in bricks and mortar that were all our own. I think there is a direct correlation between my lunch choices and my current living situation. You can let me know if my inkling was right.
Keep fighting the good fight!
Love Laura xx