The Blog

Letter to My 10-year-old Self

Firstly, congratulations on making it this far, what with your little sister hurling a metal bin at your head when you mocked her dolls and your even littler brother spending most of his time crawling about at the bottom of stairs, meaning that you've tripped over him and smashed your head on the marble floor more often than advisable.

To my 10 year old self

Firstly, congratulations on making it this far, what with your little sister hurling a metal bin at your head when you mocked her dolls and your even littler brother spending most of his time crawling about at the bottom of stairs, meaning that you've tripped over him and smashed your head on the marble floor more often than advisable. Secondly, and yes, you'll still be worrying about this in your twenties, there was no long-term damage. You are, and will continue to be, just about as clever as you need to be.

You are not, however, and I know that this hurts, the cleverest person you know. There are, even now, other 10 year olds who are wiser and smarter and quicker than you, and sticking your ideas of self-worth on 'being the cleverest' is going to make you deeply unhappy. 'Being the best' is not the way forward- so you can stop trying vainly to finesse the perfect cartwheel. You will not be the prettiest, or the funniest, or the most talented. You will be a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, of irritating habits and surprising benefits - you will be, despite your best efforts, imperfect. But people will still like you enormously, and you will be tremendously happy. In time, (rather a lot of time, I'm afraid. Probably not until you're well into your twenties) you will feel genuine pleasure at other people's achievements, rather than an all-consuming envy.

I know that you're worried about big school, and have taken to making wild declamations about how 'excited' you are about going. You will, sadly, treat all scary experiences with this same over-the-top combination of feverish boasting and silent panic. Luckily, your friends will realize this and show a level of patient understanding that reinforces how lucky you are, friendship-wise.

It's a good idea for you to focus on luck, rather than disappointment, because you are prone to melancholy. That's OK, and you should speak up about it as soon as possible, because although you don't believe it, and feel deeply lonely, there are lots of people out there who can help. You should also realize that the maddening, anxiety-provoking feelings you have about bras will continue forever. I know you believe that once you persuade mum and dad to let you buy your first one, everything will be smooth sailing, but you're wrong. You will have a tempestuous and unsatisfactory relationship with your breasts, which will be simultaneously too large, too small, too droopy and too buoyant, and although one time you will find a bra that seems to make them perfect, you will put it in the tumble drier and it will shrink. Or possibly your boobs will grow, but either way, you should take a photo of the two weeks you get to wear that particular bra, because it's the pinnacle, boob-wise.

You should know that no-one is looking at you as closely as you imagine, but also that the concealer you're stealing from mum is the wrong colour for your face. Speaking of faces, stop putting Vaseline on your eyelids, then rubbing glitter on them, no matter how many compliments you're getting. There is also no need to spend 90% of your allowance on washing products mentioned in glossy magazines, although having a nice travel washbag is a treat forever. Oh, and no matter how much you sulk and beg and promise, mum and dad are not going to increase your allowance just 'because everyone else has'. You should know now that mum and dad will remain unrepentantly uninterested in other people's parenting methods forever. And they'll be just as mortifying later on in life.

Stop pretending that you're not working hard at school- you're not fooling anybody, and making an effort is cool, or anyway, it should be. Work on frowning in disappointment when people try to denigrate you for being ambitious, or caring about things. Refuse to apologize for liking the things you like, and stop pretending to be interested in things just because other people say they're cool. You will never be cool. You will be odd, and popular, and passionate and inappropriate, and I'm afraid that those things are going to have to suffice.

Sport matters, for a thousand reasons, and not just because it will help you view your changing body as a powerful tool, rather than an awful embarrassment. Keep going to early morning practices, even though you're not very good at lacrosse - you will spend your twenties waking up early to go running before work, and it will make all the difference in the world. Also, it's important for you to learn that throughout life, you're going to have to put in much more effort into things that other people do better, seemingly without trying. Don't give up.

You'll be absolutely fine at big school, although the first few weeks will be terrifying, and one day, inconceivably, you will be one of the impossibly glamorous 'big girls' in their final year. You will never feel as grown-up as you imagined they were. That's OK. Also, and I know this stings, you will never feel as beautiful as they looked to you - but perhaps there's an 10 year old walking around that future September, wishing she was as grown-up and fantastic as you are now. What I'm saying is two-fold: you will age, but also you have no idea how amazing you might appear.

Don't get a tattoo, you'll always change your mind about what you wanted. Feel free to practice in French classes with a biro on your wrist, but recognize that your friends' efforts will always look better: you can't draw very well. Try to panic less about timings: you will kiss a boy, you will finish your geography project in time, you will get your period. Everything will happen for you, just as it does for everybody else - you are neither better nor worse than your friends.

Don't ruminate so much on other people's throwaway comments: Mrs Palmer told you off because you were the one she noticed talking, not because she sits at home plotting ways to torture you. And Anna meant exactly what she said: 'you don't often wear dresses'. It wasn't a searing indictment on your sartorial choices. Speaking of clothing, other people will always be better-dressed, or have everything, or understand about heels. If you could realize now that people are far too busy worrying about their own outfit to criticize yours, you would save approximately 45,000 minutes of pre-party worrying.

Stop lying. I know you do it because you're nervous, or to make a story better, or to show-off, but stop doing it. It's irritating and utterly obvious. It's OK not to know things, and to ask what they are. It's also OK not to have things, and to want them painfully, but for mum to refuse firmly to buy you a TV for your room. It's OK not to have done things, or seen things, or understand things. I know you're incredibly grown-up, and 100% on top of everything, (as I am now, naturally), but I just wanted to let you know that everything will turn out great. And that you should re-consider your decision to ask for Louise's album for your 11th birthday.