the journey of a budding author

Advice to my sixteen-year old self


Sixteen was a long time ago. Recently I was challenged to think about you, darling sixteen year old self. When I considered this, I remembered how difficult it was to be 16. You were going through puberty and your dad died four months before your birthday. You were utterly bereft and your mom was so wrapped up in her own grief, she had no thought for your pain or the pain your siblings were feeling.

I wish I could come along side you now and comfort you. What would have helped you, then?

You were a good student and I don’t think dad’s death stopped you from doing well. Certainly in that awful first year without dad, in grade 11 you managed to keep your head above water. Mom frustrated you and manipulated you and because you were unable to find the words to counter her, you got angry and sulked which was behaviour she understood. I can tell you that when I had children, I would not let them sulk, it is a form of manipulation too. Bringing things out into the open and talking about them is the right way to handle problems. Yes I know! I can hear you say, it wouldn’t have worked with mom. I can tell you now, it never did work , ever, for the rest of her life. It took me until I was 48 and had gone through a breast cancer op and radiotherapy to begin to realise that I needed to confront her with her manipulation. And when I did, she rejected me and turned it around and said that I had rejected her. If only you’d had the courage to do that at 16. Her threat was always that she’d die, remember? The worst you could do, without being able to find the words to counter her was to throw your cutlery at her! I got to the place eventually where I could say, OK, I don’t care if you die. I cried too many tears out of  fear of losing her to care anymore, and that flummoxed her. And having said all that, I was free.

I would say to you, that you could do anything you set your mind on, despite mom’s voice in your head, telling you that you are not good enough, and that you should not set your expectations too high, in anything you chose to do. I would stress your worth as a person and that you have a value higher than rubies. I would tell you that you are strong and that you can go adventuring into this wonderful world.

Make your own choices; in your chosen career path, do what you want to do, whether it is art or writing, go and find your destiny and not just earn money for the sake of it. Don’t take the line of least resistance and do any old thing. In romance, never confuse infatuation with love. I would stress that you not look for love from people who are crippled emotionally, that you must look for a man who is proud to be seen with you proud to be associated with you. Look for a man who complements you, your intellectual equal, but also a man who will treat you always with respect and tenderness. Real love is worth waiting for.

Be bold and adventurous and learn to take risks and believe in yourself, take counsel from someone you trust, but never be led by the nose by strong personalities. Be yourself, because God made YOU special and there is no-one like you.



Author: booksdefineme

I have always been surrounded by books. My parents had books, books and more books. I haunted the library as a child and when I grew up I worked in books shops. When I had children and they went to school I ran the school library. And my husband keeps on telling me there are too many books in the house. They somehow seem to pile up on every available surface almost of their own volition. I fight back and donate mounds of them to the local library but somehow it is a losing battle. I just find more taking their place! For the last eight years or so I have been wrestling with writing a novel and what a fierce tussle it is. I am about to publish this magnum opus in a few weeks time. I feel as I did when I gave birth to my children; nervous but excited!

11 thoughts on “Advice to my sixteen-year old self

  1. Very beautiful, tender and sad … but in a way that makes one think of love and forgiveness, and not of bitterness or regrets.
    Take Care,

  2. This letter to yourself makes your memoir all the more personal and significant. Have you children read this? I hope so.It sounds like guilt and issues are not something you want your children to inherit. Beautifully written.

  3. It can be very difficult to find the right words when one is feeling a mix of heartsore and anger. Throwing cutlery sounds like a good substitute, though.

    • I still can’t easliy find the right words at a pinch (Often think of the right thing to say long after the event)but I NEVER throw cutlery. p.s. I remember in fact that I threw them across the room, not AT her! Just as well. xx

  4. Been thinking of an adult equivalent of TTC and I think it’s swearing, using words that surprise you and make you say afterwards I didn’t know I knew words like that!

  5. This is some powerful stuff, you have written here. Beautiful!!!

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