Lisa Birch

May 10, 2017

4 min read

A letter to my 17 year old self.

Dear Lis,

I have some good news and some bad news. Bad news first — this is the worst year of your life. 2007 isn’t great either, but this year, 2003, started badly and ended badly. In fact, you will be stacking shelves this New Year’s Eve. Sorry.

The good news is that it is all uphill from here.

Plenty of shite things happen on the way. People you love a lot pass away. People who you knew well once upon a time are no longer with us. The friends you have now are mostly lovely, but you won’t be close after you leave school. You will find out that some dreams aren’t worth following, and you’ll also find ways to get around some crazy obstacles.

You’ll land your dream job in 2005. On the way to the interview you will park your car in a ditch and someone with a tractor will pull you out.

You always wanted to do Year In The Son. This happens. YITS no longer runs, so it’s great that you get in to do it while the course is still going. You will meet your best friend on the first day. She told you that she is almost always late, and this has not proved to be untrue yet. Most of your friendship circle will stem from this year. Heads up, you’ll be driving everyone around all the time but you’ll love it.

At 15 you wanted some tattoos, but sorry, you’re still clean skinned.

At 17 you’ll spend heaps of time online. Your blog is rubbish and emo (sorry, that’s not a thing yet — melancholic) but keep writing because you are actually good at it. MSN Messenger is a thing of the past. You won’t miss it.

You’ll make a TER that’s high enough to do a BA in Visual Arts. They call them ATAR scores now. You won’t do this degree, the uni you go to will get you in through academic interview.

Now, about boys. Eventually you’ll meet the guy you’re going to marry when you’re 23. You won’t start dating until you’re 25 which blows out your life plan of having kids by time you are 24. In the meantime you’ll date some nice boys and some not very nice ones. You’ll enjoy this and your heart won’t be broken too badly.

Bi-Lo no longer really exists now. Your dream of buying Coles Myer shares won’t hold up because you can’t buy shares in Coles Myer anymore. Working for Bi-Lo is pretty much the best job you’ll ever have.

You have got some things right so far. You’ve made good choices in colouring your hair. You will always wear Dr Martens. Church is sometimes a good thing, but you’ll go through a faith crisis when you’re 26. Be warned. Take good care of your purple jumper because you’ll wear it most days over winter when you’re an adult.

Lis, if I could give you some advice, it would be to bail on school this year and go back the next. For starters, you’ll own a pair of new black Docs which will match your school skirt (worn ironically) much better. You won’t buy them until 2004. Despite my pleading, you won’t really do this. You’ll finish out the year, depressed, bored out of brain and feeling vulnerable until you eventually leave town 18 months later. Don’t be scared to jump ship when things are too hard or don’t feel right. There is someone who has always judged you a lot, but don’t worry, you’ll be friends going on a road trip this time next year.

You’ll get caught up in things you should do and feel, but don’t buy into any Hallmark holidays or celebrations. Do what you want.

Also, painting your bedroom metallic blue is a lousy idea. Do not do this.

Mum will get annoyed that you watch Muriel’s Wedding and Strictly Ballroom on repeat this year. I can’t blame her. Muriel is an awful person and Strictly Ballroom is really only great the first ten times you watch it.

There is one thing you are investing heaps of emotional time into — it’s a friendship with someone you’ve never been quite sure of. You aren’t friends now, and you weren’t really at the time. There will be a moment in which you think things might change, but he is gay and you are straight and that’s that.

You won’t hate Mount Gambier once you’re 23 or so. Your frequent trips home will be great conversation starters. Everyone will ask which colour the lake is after each and every trip. You will even tell people you are from hear sometimes, and they will always know someone else from there. You’ll have no idea who these people are, or you do and you’ll pretend you don’t.

Even though you are a Victorian, you belong in Adelaide and when you are overseas you will miss wide open spaces and blue skies on the road to Port Pirie. I know you don’t know where this is yet, but you will. It’s mostly because of a boy.

It’s all worth it, trust me.

Love from Lis xx