letter to my new teenager

Hey you, with your beautiful eyes and your bones which were once so insubstantial as hope, as my long-dreamed dream of you. What advice shall I give to you, girl on the eve of your thirteenth birthday?

Many would say Shakespeare put it best.

This above all - to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

So let's start with that. This is what I'd advise you, darling:


First off, understand your source of intelligence. Don't just go with something because it sounds good. Take Polonius, for example. He was originally known as Corambis for a good reason. (Shakespeare always had a good reason.) The name means reheated cabbage. Always consider the context when you are deciding if something is actually wisdom or not.

Secondly, sweetheart, don't be true to yourself. Not necessarily, anyway. And certainly not if you've been listening to people like Polonius or whoever quotes him without thinking. You're still young, untested. Stuff that seems like a clever idea to the thirteen year old brain may be obvious disaster to those of us who have lived through it before and actually know. Love yourself. But listen to other people. Just make sure they're good people, smart, with your best interests at heart. How will you know? Well, mainly, they'll listen back. And they'll not be trying to sell you something - not a product, an idea, a vision, a service, or themselves.

Thirdly, question things. Don't just take the road less travelled, read the whole bloody poem, learn about the poet, comprehend what he meant when he wrote about two roads diverging. Understand what Polonius actually represented before you decide whether his advice works for you. Go deep. Always, always, go deep. The light on the surface of rippling water is beautiful, mesmerising. But its the weeds underneath that you most need to know about.

Mainly though, this is what I want you to understand: there are no limits to love. Your very existence is proof of that. So go hard in the cathedral of the wild. You can never, ever, under any circumstances, fail with love.


ps, listen to Pink Floyd.

Love,
your mother.