‘La vérité vaut bien qu'on passe quelques années sans la trouver.’
“Truth is more valuable if it takes you a few years to find it”.-Renard
The power of the written word has always amazed me. It is capable of such marvellous things. Over the years I have used it in so many ways. But perhaps most prominently-and most personally-through the writing of letters and by keeping a diary.
Now, unlike most diaries, this one is not a constant stream of consciousness onto the page, but instead is a record of events which I have deemed to be important at certain times in my life.
It was started in April 2002, on a long car journey. The first entry is of little relevance nor interest, but it was written by my 10 year old self. Preserved within these pages is a slice of that 10 year old me. My thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, aspirations, and fears at that time. I can never return to that place in my life again, that moment has past.
The diary continues with many entries in much the same manor, highlighting whatever my 13/15/17 year old self deems to be ‘important’. There are moments of genuine sadness recorded in there, my heartbreak over the death of my Grandpa, my depression which led to body image issues and my severe lack of confidence in myself.
Moments of significance change as does my perception of what is deemed important. At 11, the diary entries are full of grief over my first close death.
At 13, it is the fears of starting a new school.
At 15, it is gripped in the nerves which are associated with exams.
At 16, the pages are filled with ramblings and romantic notions of my first proper boyfriend.
At 17, the entries become more serious, more closely related to my thoughts and feelings of now, as I stumble towards adulthood.
I happened to stumble upon this diary a few weeks ago and after reading the entire thing from cover to cover, I decided I would like to add something of use to it. At the time of things happening it is often very hard to see how such events will turn us into the people we are today, but hindsight is always 20/20. I still have much to learn, but in terms of what lessons life has already taught me, I am gaining a very well-rounded education.
So may I present you with, a letter to past me, 10 year old me in fact. It is this I would like to share with you today. I hope you enjoy it.
Dear 10 year old Alice, (or are you going by Ali yet?)
Firstly let me just clear up a few things. This is your older self, talking to you. A few answers to the questions I know you want to ask.
-You’re not fat, you have curves and you like them.
-Yes you’ve gone to university, I don’t know if you get a degree yet.
-Yes your hair is still blonde, you like the curls now.
-Yes you can drive, and you have a car.
-You still love to read and you now know how Harry Potter ends (and no, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll just have to wait and find out!)
Is that roughly all you want to ask? I expect so. You are about to go through a huge transitional period in your life. Try to embrace it, it makes you a better person. Here are 15 pieces of hand-picked advice to help you get through it, because sometimes it’s going to be very tough. Now, listen up…
1) If I recall correctly, at this moment in time you are trying to get suspended from school…it works. When you finally sort yourself out and stop acting like such an idiot, study. As boring as it is. Just because you are reasonably smart, doesn't mean you'll get A's without working, don't settle for satisfactory. It just means you have to work harder later on.
2) Everybody dies. It doesn't matter how much you love them, sometimes people can't be saved. Cherish every moment, that way you won't regret your choices so much later on in life.
3) Laugh at yourself more. The world doesn’t come to an end, if you do something silly.
4) Ask questions if you don’t understand. Don't at the back of the maths class feeling stupid, because you’re really not. It's what the teachers are there for.
5) You don't have to be perfect, just try your best, because in the end your best is all anybody really expects from you.
6) Don't put yourself down. Trust me on this one. There are plenty of other people who are going to do it for you.
7) It is not your fault. When it all gets really bad, and it will, remember to breath.
8) Love and be loved. Allow your heart to be broken, to teach you to be strong. It all works out ok eventually. From where I’m standing right now I have never been happier, but you will have quite a journey to get to this point.
9) It is ok to say no!
10) When you get offered your first cigarette, turn it down. Please. It’s not worth everything that happens after.
11) The money in savings is there for a reason. Don’t spend it all frivolously, you’re going to need it later on and wish you still had it!
12) Mum and Dad really do have your best interests at heart. It’s going to be precarious, tough and difficult at times, but try to keep the peace with them. Perhaps if you do this now, you won’t be in quite the situation I am.
13) Dad is not a bank, do not treat him as such.
14) Keep hold of those dreams. Write everything down. You will learn so much from this.
15) Smile ! You’ve got one shot at this gig called life, so you might as well enjoy it all!
Lastly let me leave you with this to ponder.
"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again." –William Penn.
(and the many hugs you will want, but not receive over the next few years)
from your future self.