SOCIAL MEDIA

8 Jul 2020

Dear Louise, again...

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Ah, fuck. 

10 years ago today, 8 July 2010, I wrote a blog post called 'Dear Louise...'. It was a letter to my future self from 16-year-old me. I wrote it, I published it, and I told myself not to read it again until I was 26. Today. 10 years later. A decade later. 2010 to 2020. It's happened. We're here. Time has done the thing. I'm about to read it and reply.

CAN YOU SENSE THE EXISTENTIALISM. CAN YOU. Buckle in and hold my damn hand.

***

It's 2020. Blimey that sounds futuristic. How's it going? What are you DOING?

*looks to camera, rises, leaves room, screams, enters and sits back down*

It is quite funny, isn't it? Imagine being 16 and writing this post, thinking about 2020 and how utterly wondrous it must be and then BAM... global pandemic. Everything's on fire. Brilliant. We have to laugh. We HAVE TO LAUGH.

Hey, Look At Us GIF by Ashy | Gfycat

You're 26 now, proper grown up, no more complaining about being treated like a child, if that's still happening then you can't use excuses, you've fucked that up yourself. 

Feisty. No, you're not treated like a child. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean you sometimes revert to acting like a child because it's actually quite nice and being an adult is terrible and you just want to be looked after, like all the time. 

Ten years have passed Jones, or ARE you still Jones? You can't be married at 26, can you? Do you have children? I can't see that happening myself, but maybe that's what's happened. Anything could happen in ten years I suppose. Maybe you met someone on holiday, or at work, or at Uni.

Eeesh. Ouch. No, you couldn't be further away from marriage and kids. So well done on that prediction. But you did want it, and you nearly had it. But thank fuck you don't, quite frankly. Now you're fairly recently single again after 7 years and that is, turns out, exactly where you need to be. Ride it out, baby Lou.

Did you go to Uni? Did you brave it out? Or did you play chicken, freak out and go it your own way? I wouldn't be surprised. Your 16 year old self writing this is shit scared about Uni and would rather not go, being the "I JUST WANNA DO IT NOW" person I am. I kind of hope you did go, and went to one in London like you always hoped. Was it worth it?

You went to uni, dude. You went to Bournemouth and studied English. And you kinda hated it. I'm not sure if it was a case of not being ready or just bad timing, but it wasn't great. And I'm really, really sorry. Because it sucked. And if you went now, if you could redo it all, after everything you've learned and grown through, you would. But you can only do your best with the information you have at the time, so when it goes tits up, don't hate yourself. It wasn't your fault, you didn't let anyone down.

I guess the main question I really should ask is, ARE YOU A JOURNALIST? Did you do it? Did you achieve everything you dreamed of as a teen? I wonder who you're working for, a magazine? Newspaper? Maybe you're freelance, I hope you're bloody freelance girl. Although at 26, you might have only just started out and don't have a choice. Ha, I can imagine you being the 'new girl', starting at the bottom and getting told what to do all the time. You'll hate that, being told what to do, you'll want to do your own thing, come up with your own ideas.

Ok, there's a lot to unpack here. No, you're not a journalist. And let's nip this 'no' thing in the bud because I've said it a lot and it doesn't sound great... who you are 16 will not be who you are at 17. 20. 23. 26. At 16, you think you have it all figured out. You think you know exactly what you want to do, which is great at 16, but you're only 16 and have so much learning and growth to experience! Have I mentioned you're 16?

So no, you're not a journalist. And that's ok because 26-year-old you doesn't want to be. But you'll win this national blogging competition thing with Channel 4 News super soon! In like, four months! Which sounds weird now, it wouldn't happen in 2020, but it'll be huge for the time, and pretty life-changing for a 17 year old. You'll have so many opportunities and it'll even lead you to baffling things like being a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer(!) which remains the absolute bloody best day of your life. But it'll place so, so, so many expectations on you, and you'll end up always chasing more... more, more, more. You'll be set up for never feeling satisfied, that you're a failure, and that you're never quite good enough... oh boy, sorry. 
 

You'll seem pretty set for journalism after all that, though. There's no going back, right? *yet another look to camera* But then you'll have a pressured panic about studying journalism at uni so will switch to English last minute. You know you want to write, but aren't sure how. If I could go back now, I'd do something completely different. Or wouldn't have gone to uni at all, at least straightaway. I wish you took all that passion and determination you had and had a go to see what you could do with it, instead doing what you thought you should do - you were impatient after all. But hindsight is a bittersweet thing. You're happy with where you are now. That's what matters.

What about writing books? Still doing that? You a best selling author yet? I wonder if your first ever book, the one I'm writing right now, managed to get published. Probably not. But what if it did? You're a bloody genius girl if it did, I'd be proud of you. 

You know what? You smashed it. You did finish that book. It took you years, but you finished it. You thought it was brilliant. And you had an agent - you signed with a fabulous one at 19 - but that also went tits up a few years later. But you wrote a book. And maybe you'll write another one one day. Who knows.

Things do go tits up quite a bit. A huge thing you'll learn is that no matter how brilliantly things seem to go (and they do go quite brilliantly), they can quite easily go tits up when you least expect it. You can't control it all and the world doesn't owe you anything. But you have such high expectations of yourself that when shit happens, you'll run away and think you're terrible and a failure, but that's absolute rubbish. You need to learn to pick yourself up and push on. In the same breath, you're allowed to take some time out. That's ok. Don't stress. You are not a failure if your life doesn't continue at the same pace of success and happiness as it did when you were an overachieving, full-of-life teenager. Chill the fuck out and ride the wave.

But what if you're not doing anything to do with journalism and writing at all? Maybe you changed your mind, decided to become a secretary, a receptionist, a cashier. I hope not. That would be shit and would prove my 16th year of living an absolute waste of time. Do you even remember how this all started? How a couple of random quick though actions changed your life?

Why are you so fucking cryptic and what do all these typos mean? I have no idea what you're talking about which probably proves a point. But if I may bring you up quite swiftly: there's nothing wrong with being a secretary, a receptionist, or a cashier. Get a grip and be nice. You'll get a job at Waitrose when you're 18, you'll bloody love it and will have much more respect for those working in customer service, so shut up. Whatever you do at 16 also will not be a waste of time, no matter what happens. You're not paving the way for your whole future - that's a lot of expectation on fragile shoulders.

To answer your question... you are a writer! You get paid to write and that's truly wonderful. It just won't be in the way you imagined. You'll thud your way into the charity sector when you leave uni - writing articles for young people on everything from sex and relationships, to mental health and money, and you'll love it. It's perfect for you. You'll do some freelancing too, you little networking scamp, and then move on full-time to Anthony Nolan, where you are now. You'll try your hand in copywriting - something you never thought you'd want to do - and find out you're absolutely cracking at it, mate. You adore your job and you adore the charity sector. I think you'd be proud of me.
 

So, how's @louisejones_x? Swear to God you better still be tweeting, that is if Twitter's still going. Mind you, ten years IS a long time and something new and probably started up, wouldn't surprise me.

We ditched _x for etc but yes, you're still on Twitter for your sins. It's a cesspit and not the funny, friendly, escapism space it was back then, but you just can't quit. Instagram is nicer, and you'll be on TikTok until midnight most nights. 

Are you still 'friends' with the people you met on Twitter? What about the people that helped you out and did things for you that you never expected them to do, and you go !!!!!!!!!!!! quite a lot? I sincerely hope you are, maybe you're proper friends now? Now you're 26 you're 'allowed' to be proper friends with them, go out for drinks, parties and whatnot. If they want you to, obv. Maybe you turned out to be a right bitch and they turned you away. If that did happen, then I hate you. If it didn't and you ARE proper friends with them, then HIGHFIVE. 

Again, so much to unpack here. I never realised how obsessed and reliant you were on others. You had so much support from some fantastic writers (yes, still friends with them) when you started out, but you are a child and they are adults so it's not the friendship you think it is. They're supportive role models, there's a power imbalance. One day you'll learn about the fabulous concept of boundaries, and how to rely on yourself more. Your worth is not defined by others, lady. 

I wonder how many followers you managed to get, over a thousand? Few thousand? Perhaps somehow you're famous and have tens of thousands. I want your autograph if you are famous. 

Ah, the cute days of being obsessed with follower counts. That is over. We care about meaningful engagement. Growth.

I just hope you're happy, 26 year old me. I hope you're successful. I hope you're doing everything you wanted to do. I hope you fought your way through A levels, Uni, and the start of life. Your 16 year old self doesn't really understand life yet, no matter how much she rabbles on about it and complaining about how she DOES understand things. I don't think she does. Am I doing things right now? Going the right way about things? I'm just watching and listening right now, gaining experiences, and people are influencing me hella loads atm.

You're smashing it, little Lou. You're doing all the right things. It's a lot, and it's about to get even more of a lot... quite overwhelming, in fact. But you'll love it. And then it'll get messy, because that's what happens, but you'll deal with it marvellously for your age and experience. Because you do know things and you're very wise and very emotionally intelligent and that should never, ever, be underestimated. It's the most valuable trait you have. But it will absolutely be taken advantage of and you will not be safeguarded. I'm really sorry, it's not your fault, and please get therapy sooner than at 26. Many thanks.

So sorry, I'm now doing the cryptic thing, aren't I? That's where I got it from.

I just hope I'm not screwing things up and going too far with things. I am 16 after all. I'm meant to be going to parties, hanging around parks, getting drunk, making stupid teen mistakes, and crying over boys. But I'm not. Should I be? Did I miss out? Please tell me I didn't miss out.

You'll do all your crying over boys in your 20s, don't worry about that. I'm very much here for all this self-awareness, but you never wanted to do all those things. So no, you didn't miss out. You weren't 'meant' to be doing anything. You were doing you... But yes ok I wish you got drunk in parks more because it hits differently in your 20s. 

I wonder what life is like in 2020. 

Haha.

Have we still got a fucked up government? Probably.

Hahahahahaha.

Is Apple still making pointless yet still amazeballs products?

We don't say 'amazeballs' anymore and we've all succumbed to Apple, sorry.

Are we still at war with Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan? Probably. I hope it's alright. I hope it hasn't changed that much from now, 2010. Ooh I hope they made hovercrafts, or flying cars, or somehow created a way for people to fly. Bloody hell that would be incredible.

Steady now.

I bet books don't even exist now. Do people even know how to write still? Or have gone back to cavemen and converse in grunts because the internet has taken over the world? Again, I wouldn't be surprised.

Right, genuinely, my handwriting is so much worse now and I blame computers. And yes, we do talk in grunts because we're all depressed. But books do still exist and you still hate Kindles, you'll be pleased to know.

DID BIG BROTHER COME BACK? Did it really move to Channel 5? Was I on BB if it did? I would have auditioned I'm telling you now.

FUNNY STORY. Yes, it did come back, and yes to Channel 5. And you'll be asked to be a part of a PR stunt which would never happen now, where you and a group of other journalists and 'people on Twitter' were asked to spend a day in the new BB house and livetweet it. It was fucking great and in hindsight, very weird and niche. Congrats on predicting this gem, you. 

What about Doctor Who? Daleks still pissing around?

Yeah but it's shit now.

I wonder how many footballers have admitted to cheating. All of them, I'm guessing. I bet we don't even HAVE a national football team now cos we're so shit.

Excuse you, the England team of the World Cup 2018 are national treasures. 

Is Prince Harry King yet? He better be. OMG did you marry him? Maybe you're living in Buck Pal with all your little posh kids running around, going to Ascot and taking part in Trooping the Colour. Cor, good on you girl if you are, GOOD ON YA.

Close enough...


Well I'm off to carry on writing my book, you know, that best selling book that sold hundreds and hundreds of copies ten years ago? Yeah, that one. I just want you to remember everything, Louise. Remember all the things you did as a 16 year old, and how the hell you managed to do everything you did 'back in the day', how much you couldn't believe the things happening to you, the opportunities you started to have. You were one lucky sod. 

I remember, pal! Too much, maybe. I need to stop comparing myself to 16-year-old me, because it's weird and not sustainable, and you absolutely weren't living the most healthy life, no matter how wonderful it seemed. You gave so much of yourself and your energy away, all for the promise of opportunity. Red flags through rose-tinted glasses just look like flags, after all. (Thanks BoJack.)

But I do bloody love the self-awareness and gratitude here, honestly. So wholesome. You did well. Still are. You're a good egg. A scrambled and fried egg, but a good egg. You were very lucky but deserving too (I can sense the imposter syndrome setting in at 16) and I love how much you loved life and everything you were doing. You had a lot of fire.

I really do hope, that by some miraculous reason, you manage to read this when the time comes.

I am! I'm reading it! I'm doing the thing!

I guess the point of it is to see whether I'm everything I hoped I would be, and to see whether I grew up to be the lovely, funny, awesome woman I dream of being.

YOU ARE.

Living in London with a gorgeous family, having amazing inspirational friends, writing books and being a freelance journalist. I mean, that's if the world doesn't end in 2012, that is...

You got a free pass for 2012 but beware for 2020. Seriously.

***

Ok, that wasn't as painful as expected! It was actually quite interesting to read my writing style (nerd) and see what I wanted to know about from 26 year old me. I'm sad that there was nothing in there about friends or family, or hobbies. I was just obsessed with writing and progressing and contacts and networking and opportunities. Really impressive at 16, but fuck me. I wish I chilled out a bit and spread out my priorities. 

I was scared of the reflection today, of feeling disappointed knowing that I hadn't achieved what I wanted at 16. But like I said, does anyone still want or do what they wanted at 16? Unlikely. You were 16. I still compare myself way too much to that very young, naive, fiery girl. And despite the arse-ripping of 2020 (and all the years in between) I love who I am a decade later and everything I've achieved. If only 16-year-old me knew she'd run a marathon! I might not have nailed everything I wanted, but I certainly threw in some surprises.


I suppose, then, that I have to believe there is so much more to come - more than I know. If we can all survive 2020, obviously. Apparently, at 16, I'd have been surprised if I was married with kids at 26. But now, single and living back home, I've felt like I've fallen behind. That I haven't moved, that I'm stuck. I wrote this blog post in the same spot I wrote that one 10 years ago, for fuck's sake. It's bullshit, obviously, life is mad and I'm a grown up now (I AM, DAMN IT) but thoughts be thoughts, and comparison has no boundaries. But at 16, I knew that family life probably wasn't in my next decade. INTERESTING.

Interesting. It's all interesting and this has been a time. Congrats if you stuck with me through this existentialism, and congrats if you remember reading the first blog post 10(!) years ago. 

My question is: why the hell are you still here?

1 comment :

  1. I'm single and old and I do feel like I'm stuck too, but at least, I'm happy (and I hope you are too!) gotta find a job soon. Wishing you a nice day and stay safe~

    ReplyDelete