Hi, how’s it going? So, you’re 23 eh. I remember those days, if only vaguely. In nine years’ time you’ll be me. I haven’t turned out to be quite the person you expected but don’t worry, I’m someone completely different and I’m remarkably happy about it.
You’re about to take a big leap of faith in yourself and do something you always wanted to do but never got the chance – you’re about to go to university. How do you feel about it? So much has happened since I was you I’ve completely forgotten what it felt like to take those first tentative steps into the abyssal unknown. Please take assurance from me that you’ll be fine.
In fact you’ll be more than fine – for the first time in your life you’ll see something through to the end. In fact you’ll do more than see it through to the end – you’ll see it to the end and go even further. In fact you’ll do more than see it to the end and go even further – you’ll see it to the end, go even further and decide to go back to the start and do it all over again! Oh my, what an eventful nine years lie ahead of you.
There will be times during your studies, especially at weekends, when you want to be out mountain biking with the boys, that you wonder why you’re doing this. You’ll get your head in a tangle trying to fathom out what Descartes was on when he came up with some of his theories and you’ll be a whisker away from RSI from some very late-night typing to get TMAs finished and submitted on time. Enjoy it. Please. Appreciate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
If I were you, and I could do it all over again with the wisdom I have now I would do it so differently. I wouldn’t drop out when things got a bit tough. I wouldn’t be so blasé about my abilities and I’d get more involved with the university from the very start. It’s easy for me to look back retrospectively and say what I’d do differently, but in truth I did actually enjoy it all just the way it was. I’d like to be a cliché and say I grew up a lot during my time at the OU but in reality I just got a bit older and wiser. You’re such a mature 23-year-old and took those leaps into adulthood long ago so there isn’t any more growing up to do.
In the nine years that follow you’ll find love, lose love, and then find forever love. You’ll become and aunt then have that title heartbreakingly stripped from you, but then you’ll be blessed with the honour a second time. You’ll hear your parents tell you how proud they are of you more times than you’ll be able to remember but you’ll never tire of hearing it. You’ll discover that despite how you felt in school, you do actually enjoy learning. Most importantly, you’ll realise that your greatest ally and motivator is a green-eyed monster but don’t be afraid, he’s really friendly; you’ll grow to love him.
Your life in nine years’ time is not a bit like you expected it to be. You’re not married, you don’t have kids, you don’t have plans to either, and you’re actually really relieved about it. You realise that the destination you wanted to get to when you were your age doesn’t actually exist – because it’s not about destinations, it’s about journeys. Finally, you’ll realise that all along your mother was right about everything – knowledge is very different from wisdom and as you get older you become wise to the fact that when you’re 23 you know everything, but it ultimately counts for nothing.
As you sit reading this you probably don’t believe a word I say. I know, I get it, I was you once, remember. I don’t expect you to understand how much what you’re about to do will change your life and I smile at how beautifully oblivious you are about what’s to come. I’d give anything to be you again and have it all to experience again for the first time, but alas I’ve had my chance and am about to do it all over again for a second time. I wonder where I’ll be in nine years’ time? I dare to imagine.
Enjoy your life, Caz. See you in nine years.