Recently, Stephen Chapman in his blog (here) wrote a post (here) that included a letter he could write to his 16th year old self. I found that post quite intriguing and I decided to do the same. What would I write to my 16 year old self?
You're 16 and in what the Greeks call lyceum, right after high school and before university, and the year is 1997. You're dating 'her' for the second year and you've already started getting ready for the national exams for a university place. Last summer you visited your brother doing his MBA in London and fallen in love with the city. You're planning to go there, maybe for a post graduate degree, and stay to work and live a different life that offered in your little home town. I don’t want to give away too much. You know the whole time travel conundrum. But I can only tell you at the moment at that’s a really good plan and stick to it!
Not everything will go according to plan. It never does. You’ll get some ups and some downs. That’s basically life. However, you’ll see how it all gets better, oh, so much better. Your problem is that you worry too much, about almost everything! Sometimes, you get a thought on your head and you blow it out of proportions. Take you military service for example. You hear your cousin’s stories on his military service and you freak out so much that you lose your sleep over it for a couple of days. You fear that they’ll find out your big secret (oh, I’ll get back to that later don’t worry) and be horrible punished for it. But you know what? You’ll join the army in February 2005! That’s 8 years away! Why worry about it already? And the amazing thing is that it all goes well. Yes, it’s tough at times, but think that apart from you there are hundred newbies going through the same process. It will all be fine! You’ll see. And think that after that’s done, you might be free to apply to a British university! Just, think of that!
The other more important thing that keeps you up at nights, that also makes you cry to sleep, is the fact that you’re gay. Yes, you are. It will take time to sink in. You will remain in denial for some time and keep on dating women for years to come. In the meantime, you will spend nights wondering ‘why me? Why had this to happen to me?’ Well, the truth is that nobody’s living an easy life. Everybody has issues and problems. Yes, even that George Clooney you’re watching in the reruns of ER. He might be good looking, famous and wealthy. But I’m sure his life is not a never ending joyride. So, in a way, what I’m trying to say is quit worrying and the self-pity and start doing something about it. You’ll see, it’s nowhere near as bad. You’re so lucky and blessed. You’ll see that you have friends to support you, even family! Yes, you will tell them about it! Stop screaming in shock. It will happen and everything will start getting better. Your brother is an amazing person and far more understanding than you give him credit for. No, I don't need to know about those CDs he took from you at the moment.
Your life is not perfect. You will be heartbroken at times (like everybody) but you will find your place in the world. It might take some time (and maybe some tears), but hang in there. You’re even luckier than older generations because during your time internet will take over and things will be simpler and easier. It might sound weird, but people start meeting through online dating websites or chat channels like mIRC. Believe me when I say that you’ll get your confidence and you might be a bit popular at times with men. It might take a while and it might happen in later age than other people, but it will happen. Be positive.
Another thing, and please do it for me, try to pay a bit more attention in gym class. I know it’s really not your thing. And I know it’s easier to play your computer games and read your horror or sci-fi books. But there could be a way to do both? We’re never slim and we never were really fit. But, if you try a bit harder at the age you are, it might be a bit simpler for me now, trying to make up for all the lost years!
To sum things up, I’d like to tell you that you shouldn't worry that much about everything. You're doing a great job growing up. You have lots of great friends that you will keep for decades to come. You have a supporting family. It will be great. At believe me, you'll love being a university student. But you shouldn't worry about things that are out of your control. You can’t make everybody like you and there are some thing you simply can't change. Just learn how to best bet on the hand you're given. Ah, try to spend some more time with your grandparents. They won't be around for that long. Also, I know you won't like it but keep studying as hard as you do. It will open some doors for you in the future, maybe including a one way ticket to go to live abroad and have a wonderful life.