Dear Teenager

Dear Pogue,

The New Year is here. A Happy New Year to you. My wish for you this coming year is that you have a truly great year full of dreams turned reality and all that good stuff. Yeah!

Ok. Remember how I left you with a challenge when I last wrote? Yes? We were going to write letters to our younger selves. Maybe to encourage. Maybe to advise. Perhaps to caution. It was your call, your life. Now you need to let me know what you have said because, well, firstly I’m just plain nosey and, secondly, once you’ve shared your intention there’s some accountability for your advice. Yes, I know it is the past but some people are rooted in their pasts and need to deal with that, heal that in order that they can move on in the present. Could it be that your letter will go to that place?

If I had my way
I would move to another lifetime
I’d quit my job
Ride the train through the misty nighttime
I’d be ready when my feet touched ground
Wherever I came down
And if the folks would have me
Then they’ll have me
Any world that I’m welcome to
Is better than the one I come from

Steely Dan: Any world (that I’m welcome to)

Me? Well I have sat and thought about this. As you know I can overthink just about anything so have spent a lot of time exploring the possibilities. There have been many occasions leading to this moment when I have thought that if I could do it all over again I would do it differently. I really would. Retrospect is such a wonderful thing. Retrospect is also such a curse.

Retrospect allows me to offer sage, measured advice born out of experience. Advice that is weighed to cause the maximum gain in the here and now. How those extra years have allowed me to understand what would have satisfied me. When I was younger I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. And nor should I have because it is only the miles walked that allow knowledge enough to know what will satisfy and what will frustrate or disappoint.

The curse comes when I am able to realise that I could have done life so much better. That now, looking back, I can see the waste in life, the unrealised opportunities, the things done that should not have been. It’s like reviewing a game of chess. Seeing “that” move that sets into motion the current situation. If only this and not that.

Which brings me to another issue. If I, the young I, had been recipient of retrospective advice, heeded it (which should not be taken as a given – I was pretty head strong back then) and altered a moment in my history what sequence of events might I have set in motion? Looking back on my “new” past, how long before more advice and intervention would have been required?

All this thinking, all this overthinking, has brought me to a place where I think any advice given to my younger self should be of a generic nature.

So here I am, pen poised, best intentions rallied, breath held, ready to offer wisdom that would, that should improve the years up to this point.

I think I would counsel myself to take education more seriously during those teenage years. I came to education late and wandered, aimlessly through a number of years.

I would also tell myself to be less accepting of people at all levels of my experience. A combination of neglected education and other peoples agendas meant I probably missed the career I should have pursued. I think I was far too impressionable. Perhaps I would tell myself: “It’s OK to believe that you are right and back yourself”. Sometimes you just need to politely tell other people to get out of your face!

It was being impressionable that brought me to religion. I don’t regret this per se, but would tell my younger self to explore more of what is being offered. Question it. Read the literature of those who don’t agree, a “know thy enemy” sort of approach. Do you know how many shades of Christianity there are/have been since the Reformation? I’ve been told over 6000, but I must confess, I’ve never bothered to count. So any blessing that the Reformation may have been to Christianity it has also been a curse leaving a legacy where every woman and her dog can start a “christian” movement.

I digress. The point is, with such breadth of belief all under the one banner I would advise myself to taste a number of flavours, to ask more questions and be prepared to look people in the eye and say: “Really”, when the occasion demanded.

Religion is the belief in someone else’s experience
Spirituality is having your own experience.

Deepak Chopra

Better still, I would encourage myself to read more widely and go direct to source. I want to shout back over the years that spirituality trumps religion every time. To understand that one brings freedom and the other restrictions. And also, I would find God in a whole lot of places and experiences that are not sanctioned by many religious people. Goodness, how much time could I save myself if I had known this?

Finally I would want to say love is something that needs to be worked on. Believe me, Hollywood lies far too often and sells us all short in an attempt to make good box office. I have met too many people who have been disappointed, sometimes painfully, by love in all sorts of relationships. Inevitably it is all about the investment that has been put in, and, remember, it’s a two way thing.

Far too many people are looking for the right person, instead of trying to be the right person.

Gloria Steiner

Love is given to us as a seed, as a number of seeds, as many as we have relationships. If nurtured it will grow into a mighty tree but if left it will wilt, become stunted, and die. Yes there is magic in love but that magic is so often proportionate to the effort made and the care taken. The act of putting the other first, over and over. Younger self, don’t be so idealistic.

I think that’s it.

Oh yes, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen. Now that is it.

What did you write?

Yours, looking for realised dreams,


If you’ve read this and had any thoughts please leave a comment. Life’s about learning and if you can teach me a thing or two, I’m listening.

3 thoughts on “Dear Teenager

  1. Excellent post! I think all free thinkers come to education late. Mark Twain once said, at least I think he did, that he never let his schooling get in the way of his education. It’s very difficult to find oneself and assimilate at the same time. One might say, a paradox. As school appears to mostly be about the assimilation of pliant minds into the dominant culture, finding oneself is the antidote to school. And what is finding oneself but education. Unfortunately, such is life, a good education always takes many years.

    I really like your blog. You have a light touch and a flair for expression. Excellent work. Always worth reading when I can.


  2. I absolutely love your letter, Wic. I actually discussed your blog post regarding the letter to a younger self with two other people, both in their sixties. The funny thing is that both of them are with you on education and love.
    Even though my younger self has passed her expiration date, I am heeding your advice for the self I am right now. Thank you for that 🙂


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