Today I have the pleasure to welcome C.J. Flood to Chouett.com.
If you had the opportunity to write a letter to your younger self, what would you say? I know that I mine would probably not fit on a A4 sheet and that I might need a lot of space to contain all the things that I might need to say. Looking back on my life now, though I would like to convey to Virginie at 14 that, in the end, it will be ok and learn as much as you can while you can, but one thing you have to do for sure, is enjoy the ride!
Hope you’ll enjoy C.J.’s message.
Dear fourteen year old me
Ah, fourteen year old me. You are so conflicted it’s hard to know what’s best to advise. On occasions you can be painfully sweet, like when you spent the evening making Valentine’s Day cards for all the kids in your class you thought unlikely to receive them. Other times you can be appallingly cruel, such as when you pretended to want to go out with Perry Tanker only to reveal to his delighted face that you were joking.
You threw the Valentine’s cards in the bin on the way to school, whether because you feared the gesture was insulting or patronising, or because you didn’t have the courage to carry it out, I’m not sure. But this is a theme of your young years, a deficit of courage followed by an excess. Try to find the middle ground, the place where you feel comfortable, and don’t be afraid to be seen doing something kind.
You’re right, the feeling in your stomach whenever the phone rings isn’t normal. It might be Anxiety, with a capital a, which is a mental health issue. Or it might just be a sign you are doing, or about to do, something you don’t want to. Pay attention to it, but don’t let it rule your life. You really shouldn’t dread your friends’ calls though; they should be something to look forward to. Perhaps you are friends with the wrong people?
If you keep surrounding yourself with the most beautiful girls in the school, you are doomed to feel physically inferior. Don’t play the game where you rank each other amongst yourselves anymore. When the prettiest girl in the group, the one with the long legs and thin ankles and almond eyes, suggests it? Just. Say. No.
The boys will rank you. It helps them feel powerful. Tell them that you reject their superficial scoring system. Tell them they are hapless victims of the patriarchy, and they have your deepest sympathy. Tell them that soon you will be far away from here, and they will be blurred shadows in your memory, a vague feeling of pain that you are very happy to forget. Meanwhile try not to internalise your number. Stop seeking out their notes. Begin the lifelong game of telling yourself the scale doesn’t matter.
Oh, and the reason you have to sleep for hours every day after school is because you are an introvert. This means you enjoy quiet tasks, and need to recharge alone after spending time with people. This is okay. School is hellish for an introvert, especially one who pretends to be extrovert for most of the day. Stop pretending. Seek out the quiet spaces and the gentle folk.
Your gut instinct that books are the answer is correct. Why not broaden your horizons a little in terms of reading material? Point Horrors and Jackie Collins are great, but there’s somebody called Sylvia Plath who digs a little deeper. The Brontés are pretty special too. Ask your English teacher to recommend something.
Stop trying to rise through the social system, and focus on your work. Just because you’re clever enough to pass your exams without revising doesn’t mean you should. You could get a full set of As! Why not try? And finally, please, my dear, dear child, please, wear a longer skirt. Tugging that thing down like that all day is exhausting, your mum and dad are right about this one.
Trust me, I know.