I was having a lovely chat to a 17-year-old high school student the other day. I was being witty, charming, urbane and interesting, as is my wont, right up until the time she said:
"You know, you look good for being over 40."
I am 37. Also notice, she didn't say "REALLY good" or "awesome" just... "good."
That'll teach me to act down with the youth.
I remember being 17. Everything about me was perky, from my boobs to my attitude, and I alternated constantly between being puffed up with ridiculously misplaced confidence and totally felled by sudden glances into the harrowing depths of my inexperience.
I am sure you have a similar vision of younger you. I thought of some things I'd like to tell Matric Mini-Me, and thought it might be an exercise you could have fun with too.
So read my list and then make up your own: mail it in or stick it on your blog; and make any number of points you like. (Don't have a Women24 blog yet? Gosh, how embarrassing. Best start one tout de suite.)
1. This is the thinnest you're ever going to be. Stop being such an idiot about your thighs.
2. You know that cool girl in the school hostel you're trying to get to like you? She's snogging your boyfriend.
3. In 20 years, that same chick will be messaging you on Facebook to do random favours for her, totally out of the blue, without ever having admitted to having snogged your high school boyfriend.
4. Not being able to let things go is going to be a major theme in your life. If you could just forgive and get over this silly boyfriend-snogging tart now... your whole life could be MUCH easier.
5. Grow out your fringe as soon as possible. Seriously. Oh, and good grief, woman, pluck your eyebrows.
6. Keep swimming every day. You're going to miss it and it gets harder and harder to re-integrate exercise into your life once you start letting other things become more important.
7. Your next boyfriend is The One. How cool?
8. Smoking really isn't as attractive as you think , smoke rings notwithstanding. You twit.
9. The bad news is your dress sense isn't going to improve. The good news is you're going to care a lot less.
10. But the best news? You are going to have a much better life than you are expecting. Because it turns out there are lots and lots of other brave and odd chicks out there, and they will make you feel totally normal. Okay, not normal. But... nice. And it's going to feel great.
What would you like to tell your 17 year old self?