I quite often see blog posts and articles with headings about what you wish you had told your younger self.
They invariably talk about how you shouldn’t worry, and how it will all be all right in the end.
But what if it isn’t all right in the end? What if the thing you want the most in the world never comes? What would you go back and tell your younger self then? That you’re a great big fat failure? That you never get the happy ever after? That the happy ever after doesn’t exist? That the happy ever after apparently exists for some people (at least according to their articles and blog posts about how they met The One and they had The Children and it was all perfect and great and just what they wanted to happen when they were seven) but not for you. You are the unwanted, the left on the shelf, the undesirable, past your sell by date one.
So what would I go back and tell my younger self, and what would I selectively leave out, for fear of sending the Younger Me tipping straight off the nearest precipice?
Well, Younger Me, the most important thing is, you do get to have children. Well, one child at least, although hopes are fading fast for the other two you hoped to have. No you don’t get that blissful birth you remember the twenty-four year old you telling everyone you wanted, that one where everything is like an episode of Call The Midwife, but one of the happy ones where no one dies, like a Christmas episode where everything’s all right in the end and the baby pops out just on the stroke of midnight when it starts snowing and Vanessa Redgrave starts saying something uplifting about peace and love to all, jumpers for goalposts and everyone leaving their doors unlocked in the Good Old Days, but yes, you do get to have a child.
And that wedding you wanted? Well, let’s not get too carried away shall we? You win some, you lose some, and you lost out on the wedding part of the Game of Life. There’s probably no point in looking up that pink castle in Aberdeen where you had your heart set on getting married, even though you don’t know anyone from Aberdeen, because it Ain’t Gonna Happen.
Sorry about that.
Yes, I know you have been planning that wedding since you popped out of the womb. Yes, I know you wanted the ceremony in Vegas, but with an old London bus to transport everyone to the reception, and yes I know you also wanted to catch the tube to the reception, even though it’s in Vegas, and yes it would save money on hiring a car. I know you wanted to have a vintage themed wedding from the 1950s, and 40s, and 30s, and 20s, and I know you wanted a Pride and Prejudice theme with all the men dressed as soldiers from the Napoleonic Wars too. But no, it’s not happening. It hasn’t happened. I’m sorry. Please don’t hate me.
Yes, I know you thought that you would find The One, you know The One. The One who comes when you least expect it, who comes when you’re not even looking. And I know you looked every day for eighteen years, but sorry, he still didn’t come. Not even in the short bursts of time when you weren’t looking, because you were in the bath, or doing an exam, or simply popping to the shops in an old pair of leggings. He still didn’t come. And yes, I know you looked in those shops. You tried to chat someone up in Sainsbury’s once, I saw you. It didn’t work.
Sorry about that.
But you have so many things. You have your health (touch wood) and your family-they’re pretty great. They were there for you when you chose to go it alone. They were the ones who held your hand when that blissful birth didn’t quite go as planned, and they held your baby when you couldn’t. In the middle of the night when you were thinking you weren’t very good at this and maybe you had made a terrible mistake, even though you knew you hadn’t and that you would be fine. They were the ones who took you in and helped with childcare and made you remember that it takes a village to raise a child. I hope. You’d better hope that’s true Younger Me because that’s the mantra you’re living by now.
You have a roof over your head, even though it isn’t the Dream House that you picked out in 1992, and actually at the moment it’s the house you were living in when you picked out that Dream House as a better alternative, but you’re still here, and you’re OK, and you have a child. And that child is amazing. And I know you can’t believe it but you don’t even care about The One anymore, because you’re pretty happy just being you.