Dear 12 year-old Ren,
Two important things.
First, don’t be wagging school. You will get caught. And you will be stupid and get caught twice.
And not only will you get caught twice but the risks you take in going all over the western suburbs of Melbourne by yourself are just stupid. No one knows where you are (they all assume you’re at school), anything could happen to you. You’ll also put yourself in a position of being dangerously behind in school after being away for almost an entire term and live for months under the threat of having to repeat Year 7. I know you’re very unhappy there but I promise it will get better. Hang in there. Good stuff will happen by the end of the year.
Secondly, Mum and Dad’s separation had nothing to do with you and absolutely had nothing to do with your sister’s issues. You will bear this grudge for a very long time. Please don’t. It’s not worth it. You’ll come to understand why Dad did what he did. Be patient. Love your sister, she needs it.
Love, 35 year-old Ren.
Dear 13 year-old Ren,
Being utterly unable to learn Spanish or Italian will have no effect on your life in any way, no matter what your Italian or Spanish teachers tell you. You have no real interest in visiting Italy or Spain at any time of your life anyway.
Love, 35 year-old Ren.
(PS – It wouldn’t hurt if you practiced some key Japanese and Chinese phrases. You’ll be going to Japan and China. It’ll be your first trip out of Australia.)
Dear 14 year-old Ren,
Me again! Just a quick note… PAY ATTENTION IN TEXTILES CLASS!
You will discover cosplay at the age of 35, and that you actually do need those “stupid sewing skills” and you will have to rely on your poor mother instead. And she’s retired. She needs a break.
Cluelessly, your 35 year-old self.
(PS – Seriously girl. You’re going to DragonCon. You need this shit.)
Dear 15 year-old Ren,
They shouldn’t have done that. You were not “asking for it”. You were taken advantage of. Don’t be scared. Please, tell someone.
Love and many hugs, 35 year-old Ren.
(PS – You will eventually learn that not all men are horrible, scary creatures. Most are perfectly nice. You will also learn that you like girls too.)
Dear 16 year-old Ren,
Remember the hard work you put in in Year 8 that impressed your English teacher so much that she insisted you go to that workshop with John Marsden and made that happen? Remember that? Your story was poignant and touching and just plain well written. You did extremely good work in the years that followed that. Until Year 11.
IGNORE MRS BELL.
She is a haggard old bitch who is so unsatisfied with her own life that she will bring other people down for her own amusement – unfortunately those people were her students. Even more unfortunate is that she specifically targeted creatively minded students like you. She will tell you that your work is awful and average and kill any enthusiasm you ever had for creative writing. It will take many years for you to get that back. It’s not worth it.
Love, 35 year-old Ren.
(PS – You will get that desire to write back while writing X-Men fanfiction with a friend in your mid 20s. You’ll also write a 50,000 word romance novel that involves time travel. And pirates. You dag.)
Dear 17 year-old Ren,
Maths is not your greatest subject, accept it. Move on.
Love, your 35 year-old self who knows you’ll end up working in finance anyway.
Dear 18 year-old Ren,
Yay! You finished highschool!
Yay! You got into uni!
Here’s a tip – GO TO YOUR CLASSES. Get your degree. Finish what you start.
But you’re 18 now so you’re not going to listen to anyone anymore because you’re an “adult”. So here’s what you’re going to do instead:
You’re going to waste days and days in the computer lab playing in chatrooms for eighteen hour stretches. You will fall for an American guy who is *cough*eighteen*cough* years your senior. You’re going to ignore your lectures and start hanging out with your friends in the Student Union. You’re going to support a friend who ends up working in a brothel. You’re going to drop out and start the long, arduous search for employment.
The next ten years are going to be pretty crap.
You’ll wish you listened to me!
Sincerely, your 35 year-old self.
(PS – Actually, it’s not all that bad. Lots of good stuff happens too. Like you’ll meet a whole bunch of new people through blogging who become some of your best friends in the world. You’ll get into photography. You’ll become an aunty. You’ll rediscover your artistic talents. You’ll travel to places you never thought you’d go.)
Dear 19 year-old Ren,
You know that really nice guy from WA you were introduced to?
Yeah, him. You’ll marry him one day. Just sayin’.
Love your 35 year-old-and-now-divorced self.
PS: You divorced him because you weren’t happy for years. Don’t fuck around, just leave.
Dear 29 year-old Ren,
It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
You know how you’re getting married and you want to get married in THAT RED DRESS?
Don’t give a fuck about what anyone else thinks.
That dress will look awesome on you.
Cheers, 35 year-old Ren.
(PS – The dress you get will be gorgeous anyway, but definitely get your first choice. Regrets suck.)
(PPS – You might get another chance after all. GET THE RED DRESS.)