Letter to my seventeen years old self

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Hey you! How are you doing? First things first, how old are you now? Just to help me recall what is going on in your life. 17? Wow! Almost an adult, soon enough you will be able to vote! Yes I know, a little too late this time, you will turn 18 in July and this super important election, the first one you old enough to understand and care about is happening in May. It’s a shame but don’t worry, there will be plenty of others.

I know it is a bit frustrating. I know also I am not being super helpful right now and you resent me for putting pressure on you, as I said earlier that you are “almost an adult”. I should know you don’t want to hear that, especially from me, you are hearing it enough all day long and it starts to get terrifying. In June you will have this big exam in order to finish high school. Don’t worry about that please, you will pass it. Even if teachers and parents are babbling about it since you’re eleven, it is actually not such a big deal. You are a good student, you own a good memory. So just learn, they are not even asking you to understand anything about what you are learning, it will be enough for this.

Don’t count on me to reveal you the subjects, mind you? That would not be fair and, honestly, I don’t even remember what it was about, this is how little I got affected retrospectively. But I do know this is a super big deal for you so don’t worry, you will nail it. End of topic. I do know though that there is something way more important than that for the future and you are scary dead about it right now: what the hell are you gonna do ?? Everyone seems to be super curious about it all on the sudden. What are you interested in? They aren’t really interested in what interest you deeply, you are getting it right. It is just to know what you are gonna study and where. They don’t mean to be rude, it is just to help you plan easier, to make it smoother for everyone. The problem is that you have no fucking idea. I mean, you do. You write. You write a lot right now and it is amazing. Do you know that some of the stuff you have been writing these last months, I still find it pretty cool, more than 10 years later? Keep doing it a little bit more, now that you are in the right mindset because it is pretty volatile, you’ll see.

Soon you will go to college and then you will stop writing for a long time. It is not bad at all, it’s just that you will have so many other things to do! So much will happen to you and you will not have space for creative writing in your mind. I know that most of this creative drive is due to boredom and a huge hunger for experiences. Your stories are taking place in far away countries because you crave to go there. Or anywhere. You write about huge and sad love stories because you want to know what it feels like. Your characters are travelers, lovers, refugees, they fight for what they believe to be fair. They are not always right but they do learn, in their own way. And soon enough, you will meet people like them in real life, even bigger or weirder, and you will travel like they do. You will love and be loved the way they are (it will be less dramatic though but it is really not a bad thing. You know for a 17-year-old girl, you write pretty dramatic stuff).

Yes so, you write, big deal but it is hard to see it as a “real” career. I don’t want to tell you where you will go to college and for doing what. Let’s not spoil everything right away, it is taking away all the fun. Just be sure that you will learn immensely, both inside and outside of class and it will lead you to quite unexpected directions. But this question remains, you know, The Question they all force you and your pairs to answer right away, this “what are you gonna do with your life ?”, as if at 17 years old you even have the slightest hint… Isn’t it ultimately boring and scary for nothing? Let me tell you what I know now: at the age of 28, I still don’t have any fucking idea (but I still swear a lot). I do say that in order to make you feel better but I am sorry in advance if it only makes you feel even more lost and anxious. If it does, try to get used to it as soon as possible because anxiety and her nasty sister fear are not ready yet to leave. You can start to learn how to keep them at bay as much as possible and also start to deal with the fact that they will probably be lifelong companions. Get used having them always sitting at the back of the car, hear sometimes what they have to say sometimes but never, ever, ever, allow them to drive.

I know you are scared but you are also impatient. To what, no idea, such as me right now you should not care because you are positive and strong enough to be able to enjoy the journey. And so far the journey has been super enjoyable and I am so proud of what you are about to do! In my dark moments, I happen to wonder “What if I had/hadn’t done/chosen that at the time? Maybe I would have that and not that now…” but it is pointless I know. I know that I can’t know. No one can and it’s good this way. It is important, even if I am now writing this from the future, that you don’t start thinking too much about the kind of life you think you want to have at my age, or at any age actually. It could push you away from things you really want to do at the time you will want to do them, it would deprive you of all these wonderful moments because you let fear drive when you have such thoughts.

I want what I want now because of all I did before (all what you are about to do). Just 2 years ago I had a lot of different ideas about plenty of things and I thought still that I would never change my mind. But guess what? I did, and I am happy I did. Yet certain decisions should not be made lightly but in our case, to let go a little bit would actually be a good idea. It is true that some choices may have lifelong repercussions but we cannot know which ones when we make them, at best we can have some hints so don’t stress that much about it, please!

Because ultimately you will be fine and you will live so much more than what you can imagine right now! And you will start to write again one day when the right time will eventually arise.

I do see how much pressure school and society are putting on your shoulders right now. Your anxiety is not coming from something broken inside, it is coming from all these expectations and contradictory injunctions that you and I have been swallowing all over, just like anybody else. But you will learn how to get distance from them, a little bit more every day. It is long, I am still working on it, I am right now going through a long period of self doubt that is making me want to write to you today, the same way I would like my 39 years old self to write to me to tell me that I came through it and that she is grateful for what I have done to make her who she is now, whoever she may be.

I would like to have that now but, as I can’t, the best I can do is to write this to you today :

It will be fine, ultimately. Now go!
PS: You could be surprised that I didn’t talk that much about boys in this letter, as it is honestly also one of your big preoccupations right now. So I should say a bit more to you about it, without revealing anything in detail: yes you will lose your virginity one day and some of these boys will like you. Now that you know that, you can ease a little bit and start thinking less about what they would want, or like, and a bit more about what you want and like from them and about them. It may save you some time and troubles. But you will come to that eventually, it is just an idea 😉

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