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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Letter to your sixteen year old self - as a writing exercise


So I belong to a new writing group under the astute leadership of film maker, author and teacher Heath Davis. I'm so lucky to be part of it! Each session we do exercises to stretch our writer muscles, challenge our perspectives. Last session we had to write a letter to our sixteen year old self. What advice would you give yourself? I decided to publish mine as an open letter:


Letter to my sixteen year old self
Listen, you think you know a fair bit, especially about who you are and what you believe, but BELIEVE ME those beliefs will be challenged, so keep an open mind.
Your strength will be stretched far further than you could imagine possible. Sometimes you will feel like dying, leaving this planet or finding a dark hole to hide in. Other times you will feel joy, light in your soul and love in your bones. 

You will feel disappointed in yourself, in others, in this life. You will have to fight like a warrior, sword and shield in hand to stay sane, for yourself and for those you love. And you will have to let go – of your expectations, friendships, lovers, people you need and some you thought you did.
You will have a lot of anger inside you, grief actually, that thinks it’s anger. And it’s not something you can let out easily, even if you can give it a name. But it’s there. Acknowledge it. Accept it. It’s an important part of you. Denying your grief will only lead you down a dark and lonely path.
You’re a soft hearted person, compassionate, easily moved to tears, but people look at your confident exterior and make assumptions about you. There’s nothing you can do about the way you look, except perhaps smile more… but beware being used. You give of yourself generously, sometimes overdoing it trying to keep everyone happy, to live in harmony, but few people will actually appreciate that. Including your family. 

Don’t mistake concern for understanding. Few people will actually ‘get’ you, and who they are will surprise you. Don’t judge by appearances.
Live where you want to live! Even though that might mean leaving family behind. Place is so important to you. You’ll feel a connection to place in your genes. You cannot change this. Don’t live somewhere you hate. You need to be grounded in somewhere that feeds your soul, not sucks the strength out of you.

For God’s sake, trust your instincts girl! Your inner critic will shout at you, make you feel guilty for choices you make, make you second guess every decision, force you off track and make you ignore your instinctual reactions, which are NEVER WRONG. Did you hear me? Your instincts are never wrong. Trust them. Live by them. 

And don’t compromise so bloody much. Stand up for yourself!
There will be hard corners that need softening, sanding back. Don’t be ashamed or worry about that. Life will teach you lots about yourself, how to be. Things your parents were ill equipped to teach you. Pain is the great teacher. Pain we notice. Pain we listen to. Pain has its own healing power, if you let it guide you. 

Don’t talk too much. Slow down. Take your time. Gather your thoughts with care. Make your words count. It’s not the loudest who garners the most respect. It’s not the fastest. It’s the most in tune. Be that person and you will never be short of friends, good times and happy memories.
Be yourself. But be open to modification. No one is perfect. We’re all broken in some way. And that’s ok.



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