Thursday, November 26, 2009

Step away from the toe-socks...

Me and Dad on my sixteenth birthday

I was tagged by Angel for this, so here I go! A letter to myself at 16...

Hey! Natalie! I know you're all excited after that great surprise birthday party your friend Audrey threw for you, but we need to talk about a few things.

First of all, step away from the toe-socks. I know these brightly-striped creations are fashionable, but do you really need anything that makes your size-ten feet look bulkier? I think not.

Skinny ribbons tied in bows under your collar are a fashion trend that should have died at birth. Don't go there, especially for school photos, which never die unless you put a match to them! Speaking of school photos, throw away that curling iron. For God's sake, your hair is naturally wavy and curly. Why the hell are you frying it every morning? By the way, thank you for getting rid of those glasses with the brownish-orange tinted lens. The 70s, shudder!

And stop freaking worrying so much about what other people think. It just does not matter. DOES. NOT. MATTER!!!

I know studying is important to you and you're determined to keep a 90%+ average while simultaneously taking clarinet and piano lessons and music theory classes, and running the household, and taking care of your mother, and being a premature adult, but you need to relax more and worry less. Smile more. This stuff will not matter when you are 45. Like your Dad said, try to have a bit more fun. Study a little less! Btw, your Dad does love you and he did want you; ignore what your Mum tells you. I know all of this is even harder because you are an only child, but one day you'll meet another only child who always will be there for you while you figure all this stuff out.

Speaking of clarinet, "classical musician" is not the career for you. Before you spend four years getting a music degree, think about what you were really put on this earth to do. Playing Mozart for a living isn't it. Music has its place in your life, but I think we both know you're avoiding what you're really supposed to be doing, which is writing and creating art. And there are chickens in your future! Chickens, girl! How great is that? You can sing Mozart to your hens. They will be quite fond of his Ave Verum Corpus.

Me and Ian Turnbull of the Toronto Maple Leafs -- #2 on the team, #1 in my heart!

Don't gamble in your friend Audrey's hockey pools. You'll never win!

You won't want to hear this, but your mother does not have your best interests at heart and she never will. It's sad and it's painful, but she was the product of parents who didn't have her best interests at heart, and she never learned how to have empathy. It's not you; it's her. You'll still be undoing the damage 29 years from now. Enough said. By the way, it's okay to outshine your mother. Don't hold back. You need and deserve to find your own voice.

I know you feel really awkward and ugly inside and out, not to mention stupid, but you're not. Adolescence sucks!

Next year you're going to fall hard for a tall blonde boy who you think will make you happy forever. Instead he is setting you up for eight-and-a-half years of hell. He knows what he is doing and he's going to manipulate you. When he asks you for a date, run screaming in the other direction! He is incapable of empathy, does not truly care for you, and never will. He may be a psychopath, and he's definitely a narcissist. (I know, I know, labels are bad but it's just so satisfying to put a clinical name to his behaviour!) You are too young for boys anyway. Wait until you're in university to start dating! Heck, wait until you're 25, because that's when you'll have yourself sorted out enough to fall for the truly exceptional man you're still with now. You deserve to be treated well; don't we all?

Pets are the only children you're ever going to have, so don't waste time agonizing about whether or not you'll make a good mother. It's irrelevant, and you know what? You'll do just fine without kids. You'll have lots of beautiful children in your life; they just won't be your own. You'll illustrate a kids' book that will make you (and some kids) very happy! Things like that can be your legacy, but hopefully not until you die in your sleep at age 95 with your husband beside you. And you know, there is a lot to be said for chickens. They may not be human babies, but they are funny, spontaneous, fierce, brave, soft, cuddly and beautiful, and their unborn babies are a good source of protein, not to mention tasty!

As soon as you can leave home, do. When you're 21, you'll think that the only way to escape is to marry the aforementioned psychopathic narcissist. But you're wrong! You are a very capable and resourceful person and you need only have confidence in yourself. Do not go to university in your hometown; take those scholarships and go away to school! And when you finish school, travel abroad for a year, maybe do some volunteer work in a far-off country. Whatever you do, refuse to put on that white dress and walk down the aisle with that crazy man. You'll know it's a mistake the moment you wake up on the morning of the wedding. Listen to what your body is telling you and call it off. Wait for the real love of your life. He's coming!

Let me say one word to you: yoga! Don't wait until your 30s to take it up. Do it now. Your body and your mind will thank you.

About that shiny-new driver's licence: if you lose an expensive contact lens and refuse to wear your glasses because you think they make you look hideous, do not drive a car! Yes, you will have to wait a couple of weeks for a replacement lens in the pre-disposable-lens era, but suck it up. Don't get behind the wheel with one contact lens and do a shoulder-check with your blind eye, because you won't see the car you are about drive into as you change lanes. Fortunately the damage will be minimal, there will be no injuries, and the cops are going to be really, really nice to you as you sit crying and dribbling snot all over the backseat of their shiny cruiser.

On second thought, that accident did drive home to you just how important it is to be an alert and responsible driver, and how dangerous driving can be. So if it's going to keep you going for the next 29 years with a clean driving record, maybe we should keep that little fender bender on the record!

There is so much I know now that I wish I knew at 16, but life is a learning experience and sometimes the knowledge comes later. Here's what's important for a 16-year-old to know:

Never look to another person to find your worth. That has to come from within!

There's nothing wrong with not being the same as everyone else! There's a lot to be said for being creative, different, and even "weird." You just be who you are, and the hell with what anyone else says.

Love is a two-way street. You both have to give and take. Don't let yourself be sucked dry by emotional vampires. And don't forget to love yourself, in a healthy, non-narcissistic way!

Never stop laughing and never stop having fun. If people think you're crazy, tough noogies. Life can be hard at times, so celebrate the good bits.

Always listen to your gut. Your body is wise, even when your brain isn't it, and it will tell you all you need to know if only you'll listen.

And finally, throw away the toe socks, curling iron and ribbons, and start planning for chickens. Chickens will be your spirit guides when you're middle-aged and wiser! Now go have a cuppa tea. I know you want one.

The middle-aged you

PS: It is not all your fault. It never was. Stop blaming yourself.

Me at 16, wearing a Toronto Blizzard soccer team shirt and holding a stuffed Curious George toy close to my heart! The Blizzard went belly-up soon after, but I think they've since been resurrected.


  1. Wonderful, Pnat! If only we knew then what we know now, eh?

  2. Anonymous3:01 pm

    What a great girl you were (are!)--I feel for you and all the pain you didn't deserve but survived anyway. I'm glad you came out victorious!

  3. Well said. I love where I am now, but sometimes wish I'd been a little wiser back then!

  4. Sharon, in San Francisco (who should be half so self aware)7:45 pm

    wow Natalie...i don't have that kind of insight at are amazing. I'm sorry for the good bit of pain to get there, but I admire you tremendously.

    Chickens...and dogs...that's the way to go! and Gordon...Rock on Natalie!

  5. Oh Sharon, I think you're doing pretty darn well! And I still have a loooooong way to go, but I'm getting there. But thank you! I was touched by your comment. And your new "user name" made me laugh out loud.

    Thanks for all the great comments, ladies! You make me feel glad I shared.

  6. Lol... toe socks? Like little socks for each of your toes?? ROTFL! You're so gorgeous in those pics! Loved the post...!

  7. Angel, I'm thinking that in a lovely tropical country such as yours, there's not a lot of need for toe socks. (That said, I'm not convinced there's any need here, either, even in a Canadian February.) Anyhoo, toe socks, think more "gloves for your feet" and you'll get the (stupid) concept.

    And thank you for the compliments. :)

  8. Anonymous6:12 pm

    Oh Knatty Darling Honey Baby, i wish i could give you a big hug. you have articulated a life experience that many of your readers have ... or can relate to.

    this was brilliant ... as you are.

    you are truly an exceptional individual. and i love and appreciate your life trajectory and your learning processes and i love Mr C for his role in it ... even though i lust after him ...hahah. ;)

    great post as usual. you are BRILLIANT. :)

  9. Awesome post! I really enjoyed reading that! Bows? Toe socks?! Different era completely! :-P

  10. Dr. Sloth, you make me feel good! THank you for that gushing praise. :))

    Scrumpulicious, I can only hope your fashion choices were more sensible in your youth (although I'm pretty sure you're still IN your youth, at least compared to me!!) The 70s and 80s were an alarming time for fashion...


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!