The Umbrella Collective - 16

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

This week Amy, Alice, Rhiannon and I have decided to get all serious on you and write a letter to our sixteen year old selves. It's been done but not by us, not yet.

Hey you,

So you're sixteen and I'm twenty four and there's a whole eight years difference between us. Nothing much will have changed in those eight years, right? You've got it all handled now, it'll all be fine then? Oh sweetie, no. I don't have any of my shit together and I'd like to blame you because you had all the potential in the world but I'd just be blaming myself and we both know we don't like to do that. Let's blame someone else. Dad? We'll blame him for a lot in the years to come even if none of it was his fault. Some of it was and he deserves a kick up the bum for that but mostly, it's on us, kid.

The friend you just made or will make in the next few months? She'll be your best accomplice, counsellor, sister and biggest pain in your arse but she sticks around and you both make it through. Never let her go because she is now the window to your past self and will call you out on your crap from twenty miles up the road down a gravelly phone line at 4am. She will be the witness to your teenage self when everyone else has since forgotten the mistakes you made and while that seems scary, it's actually rather humbling. Some other friends will stick about but mostly they'll be passing acquaintances in a crowd of a club or mistakes you made while drunk on tequila in situations I'd rather you not be in in the coming years so spend time with them, love them for who they are but forget them swiftly.

Be kind to mum and nan. You have a lot to come in the next three years and it'll devastate you, worry you, grind you down and dismantle you more than you think you can handle but you come out the other side, promise. Don't blame other people for your personality faults - own them because one day those personality faults save your life and forge you a career out of thin air. Work hard at school because there does come a time where you need the things you thought you didn't and when you can't pluck the answer out of the recesses of your memory it's rather embarrassing. University seems like the be all and end all for you right now but that time will come, take it as it comes and remember that your life is going to be more exciting and more dull than a classroom all at the same time. Stop smoking now because I'm sat here with a Nicorette tab in my mouth quitting and if you'd have quit I wouldn't be here right now. Also, keep an eye on your weight because after two children you don't get that luxury as much. Treasure your boobs because they're...different now.

Oh, did I mention we have kids? Girls. They'll be the best things that have happened to you and they'll make you grow up like nothing else.

So I have some advice for you. Stop being a cow to the people who love you. Stay up all night drinking tequila with that friend I mentioned earlier. Experiment with your sexuality and never be afraid of it. Stand up for what you believe in even if you're the only one standing. It's not important for everyone to like you as long as they respect you and you respect them. Keep singing. Keep dancing. Learn quickly that Sambuca is bad for us. Learn extra quickly that men with beards and shaved hair that are built like rugby players are our type but the majority are not for us. Don't take risks with your health, sexual or otherwise. When the first man asks you to marry him, don't do it but stay with him as when it runs it's course it'll lead to something beautiful and remember that you won't have to wait too long for someone to truly loves you and not someone who loves you for what they can get from you.

So in short, don't do much differently. I really enjoy who I am and I am that person because of the epic cock up's you'll make in your future. You can't stop what's going to happen but when you're drunk on a concoction of spirits and wine, make good choices because I have scars that I wish weren't there.

Also that boyfriend of yours you think will last forever? He won't. There'll be more. There'll be more that you wish weren't even for one night but that's okay because it leads you to the person you're with now and he wouldn't have fallen in love with you if you weren't such a complete mess. Be a mess. It's worth it.


  1. I love this Laura! Particularly the fact that you tell yourself not to do much differently- it's true, it all makes us who we are now. And the treasure your boobs made me laugh a LOT. xx