Things Are Going To Get Easier (Then Harder), Then Easier Again

Write a letter to yourself aged sixteen (via my trusty Writing Exercises)tumblr_n74xzvbK091r7621zo1_500

Dear Christa,

Honestly, this is a hard note to write given that I know how sensitive you are. You’re still sensitive by the way and you cry a lot; happy, sad, angry (especially angry), you have excellently functioning tear ducts. Well done.

Where to start on this very important document though? First of all, let’s get the obvious one out the way: you aren’t even that fat. Over the next two decades, you will wonder what the hell you were even worried about. Right now, aged sixteen, you look pretty great.

When you get to my age you will have more confidence with less to be confident about. Which, when you consider it, is almost as good as having a flat stomach. When you get here you’ll understand.

I realise as I type away at this, that at my core I’m not that different to you. A little bit less insecure yes but still prone to moments of crippling self-doubt. And I still haven’t the first idea what the f**k I’m going to do with my life.

The only difference now is that I know that’s okay. That living a full and happy life is as important as setting the world on fire, although there is still time. There really is still time.

Keep writing though. Write often, write honestly – basically don’t just talk about it willy nilly; do it, okay?

36 year old you is still as hopeful as you are; still deeply faithful to the theory that everything is going to be okay in the end. Still a romantic twat, even after three years of marriage and over six tripping on shoes left in the kitchen (in front of the sink!). Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah… you get married.

I’ll give you a moment to process that. In fact, let’s just talk boys for a second.

Boys are great, as are the men they grow into. They are fun and funny and you’re not sure about them now but you will find this out for yourself. Some of your favourite friends will be and are, boys. At the moment, you are probably doing one of two things as you read this, or both: a) turning up your nose snottily as if to say ‘ew’ and b) thinking about boys again, for you think of them often.

In fact, it’s impossible for you to talk to one without forming a crush and then fantasising about them, like, all the time. You aren’t even particularly sexual by now so those daydreams are pretty tame.

I can’t remember if you’ve even seen a penis yet, let alone touched one. I think you might still be petrified of the idea of them (they’re not that bad).

You should be experimenting by the way, so I’m not going to lecture you on that. Enjoy the ride, for god’s sake. Actually, I’m not going to talk you out of doing any of the things you will do, except maybe one big one. The choices you make will make you into me. Plus, you’ll have stories for later. My friend told me I have the best dating stories the other night, and it made me proud.

So, carry on. Do everything exactly as you choose.

Do me one favour though. When, aged 24, you get your heart obliterated by a bad man (worth it) and you hit rock bottom with a thud, DO NOT accept the offer of dinner with the first person who asks you. This will not be a good scene and it will last six long years that you will never get back. Trust me on that. (You don’t even get dinner).

Although, didn’t I just say all these things will turn you into me? Maybe scrub the above paragraph. But take less shit and remember, when he says you need help, that you are crazy; he’s projecting.

So yeah. You’re a wife and it’s awesome and not at all as you would imagine. You’re not a mother. I don’t think you have any desire to be but just so you know, I’ve decided not to do that. You have a step son though, he’s nine.

You fancy your husband a lot and you like beards now.

There it is, kid. A recap, if you will: write lots, experiment a lot, penises are actually pretty okay, collect stories for later use and don’t let shitty relationships keep you down for long. Oh yeah, and travel, as much as you can afford to and as often as you can. You’re going to love Thailand.

You’re going to be okay, you know?

Peace out,

Christa xoxo

Ps. Your friends trick you into wearing shorts to school round about now. Don’t fall for it, it rains that day and they all bail on you.

Specs Appeal

glassesgirlMy friend Sammy has a gorgeous young daughter named after my favourite season (Autumn). I don’t know Autumn personally, but from what I have gleaned via my chats with Sammy and the wonderful world of social media, she is a sensitive, thoughtful girl with a beautiful smile. She also has good t-shirt game and happens to wear glasses.

The other morning Sammy posted an update that said she had been showing Autumn pictures on the internet of actresses, princesses and pop stars who also happen to be spectacle wearers. This had come about because poor Autumn had come home upset that she “isn’t pretty and doesn’t look like the other girls at school”.

Well, we all know I’m not the most maternal woman in the world, but for some reason this damn near broke my heart. Lovely girls at this tender age shouldn’t be feeling that way – ever, really – but certainly not as they embark on their first days of school.

As they navigate the thorny pathway through friendship and independence, wouldn’t it be nice if these things never came up? But, of course they do. Most of us have felt different at one point or another and I think any woman who says they haven’t felt uglier than their counterparts at least once is probably fibbing.

When I was around the same age as Autumn, my family and I arrived in England from Canada. One of the first memories I have is of putting up my hand in my new class to ask if I could use the bathroom. The teacher said I could, but first I would have to come up to the front and read something out to the rest of the class. Well, let’s just say when you gotta go, you gotta go and for a long while I was simply the kid who wet herself in public.

It didn’t get better for a while. I didn’t have it as bad as most, I wasn’t the Smelly Tall Girl (Samantha) or the Poor Kid Who Always Puked on School Trips (Janette) but I was ginger and clumsy. Somehow the combination of the two meant I was less graceful than some of the ‘popular’ girls. The Kellys and the Gemmas and the Michelles.

My self-consciousness was further compounded the day they cast Hansel & Gretel for our year and I, along with another poor super-ginger was thrust into the limelight as one of the doors to the gingerbread house. Yes, my 15 minutes of fame were spent giving my all to the role of door.

(There is a Polaroid of this somewhere in my mother’s possession and it is epic).

My point is, I had a thing that made me feel different and it has taken me several decades to come to terms with the fact that my hair colour is actually pretty great.

I am also a proud glasses wearer and have been for two years, ever since I finally admitted to myself that it’s so not cool to be squinting and accidentally ignoring people in public.

Some days I miss seeing my whole face but for the most part, I love my glasses. I feel they add something to my look and are part of what makes me me.

But back to Autumn and her own bespectacled adventures. It seems she felt better when she discovered an image of Jessie J rocking awesome spectacles and is coming around to the fact that being one of the only ones wearing them makes her special, not ugly.

On the topic of successful celebrities who wear glasses, I compiled my own list of favourites. Any excuse to include a picture of The Goose, right?

PicMonkey CollageFrom L-R, Top to Bottom:

  1. Mindy Kaling – Actress, comedian, writer
  2. Tom Hanks – King of the World
  3. Rashida Jones – Film & TV Actress, screen writer and comic book author!
  4. Anne Hathaway – Actress and Academy Award winner
  5. Tina Fey – Actress, comedian, writer, producer; babe
  6. Lauren Conrad – TV personality and fashion designer
  7. Dallas Green – Musician (City and Colour) and all round hottie
  8. Leighton MeesterBlair Waldorf, yo!
  9. Ryan Gosling – needs no introduction…

So if you ever read my blog, Autumn – you will see how proud I am to wear glasses and250720_10152083754445018_181621175_n how much I admire other people who wear them. And you know what else? Not only are you completely adorable, you will also grow up to be sensitive to other people because you understand what it feels like when you feel different. And different is ultimately a great thing.

As for me, I feel like this has given me pause for thought when it comes to the younger people in my life. It’s all well and good to be talking and thinking a lot about my own self-esteem project but what am I doing to make sure they know that they are absolutely fine just the way they are? Not just fine, but pretty bloody wonderful? From now on, as much as possible.

Thanks to Sammy and Autumn for letting me talk about them.

NB: Some names in this post have been changed to protect the innocent. Not you, Popular Girls.