I was Googling around on facebook on Saturday night (I know, living the dream, right?) and accidentally on purpose stumbled on a set of recent photos taken of my old high school, which is about to be demolished, apparently.
As I wandered virtually around the old grounds remembering where I kissed a boy, smoked a cigarette and wasted time avoiding dissecting frogs, this photo appears and trips me over…right there in memory lane. Nursing my virtual grazed knee…I am instantly 14 years old again.
This photo is of a 26 year-old newspaper article that was found stuck on a wall of the school’s agriculture shed. And that’s 14 year-old me…painting a fence. The article has been stuck there since 1986. The year that Neighbours debuted and we all wanted a fairy-tale Scott and Charlene romance. The year that Schapelle Corby was just nine years old when Barlow and Chambers were executed for drug trafficking in Malayasia. Jill Meagher was just three years old when nurse Anita Cobby is abducted, raped and murdered making us all think twice about how safe our ‘lucky country’ is.
Yes. 1986 was a long time ago. And yet… it was just yesterday. I am mad for nostalgia. I’ve been reminiscing since I was 16, and now, at 40…I think I’ve finally got something to reminisce over!
So as I tried to sleep after such an exciting Saturday night online I started to walk through 1986 as a 40-year-old. And I wondered. What would I say to my 14-year-old self? I know there’s a whole book and website on celebrities writing to their 16-year-old selves but I’ve always been a bit of a high achiever…so I’ll start earlier.
Dear 14-year-old Kim,
As much as you malign authority and firmly believe that Michael J Fox will drop Nancy McKeon and travel to Australia to meet and be with you there are a few things I’d love for you to take me seriously on. There is no heavier burden than a great potential and I’m afraid you wear this potential well.
Trust me when I tell you that life can be fun and crazy. And that’s OK. The world is not black and white and you will have little control over it. So relax.
You are an awesome, bright, smart and highly engaging young woman. Learning to listen and accept others will help you to use your powers for good instead of wondering when you’ll be discovered as the true genius that you are.
There is much to look forward to and some pretty cool stuff that is spring boarded from this very school you loathe. I’m not going to spoil it for you – but I will say, in two years time you’re going to meet a boy that accompanies you on a decade long journey which takes you to America. Yes, that’s right – America. It’ll take you 10 years to realise why and then another 10 to accept what it was really all about – but that’s another story.
When you meet your first real love (not counting Michael J Fox) it’ll be OK to trust him. You don’t need to doubt his motive for talking to other girls. They have nothing on you. You’re a unique individual and he knows that. He’ll be at your wedding in 24 years time. I won’t say how – because then you’ll know how it all works out – and I don’t want to give you a map for your own life. As much as you might think this will help – it won’t. Discovery is part of the fun. Accept it.
You’re not going to want to follow your friends and go to University, which is OK. But I highly recommend not settling for 10 years behind a shop counter either. While it’ll give you a great foundation for dealing with people and you’ll get some wicked freebies and one-night stands – it doesn’t offer much else. Small town. Small mind. Move on as soon as you can.
In three years you’ll consider ditching school altogether. But you’re smarter than that. Life is not a movie. As much as you may try and script it to be.
Dabbling with your acting training is well and good and fun enough for a teenager. You are talented. You can trust those that tell you, but if you truly want to make a go of it then you will need to do two things. Chill the fuck out and accept a lot of compromises. It’s your choice if you wish to gather the strength to do this. I couldn’t. But the training and discipline of an actor will stay with you throughout your career.
Oh, yes. That’s right. You don’t know this yet, but you get a whole career. With like, an office and things called emails, mobile phones and Google. In fact, it’s something called the internet (which I’m not even going to start to try and explain because it will just blow your tiny little mind) that sees your writing become a career. There’s going to be a few key players in your game of life that truly lift you up and push you to fly. Lucky you.
I’m not going to reveal the facts and harsh realities of the years ahead, because that would be unfair. I will say this. Your mother is an amazing, strong, unique and independent spirit. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Respect her. Love her. Trust her and help her. She won’t be around forever. And sometimes forever happens sooner than you think.
Life won’t ever be tied up in a bow. I know you feel that the world will be a better place when you’re 30 and you’ll be married with everything in it’s place. Sorry. Spoiler alert. It doesn’t work like that. You are going to have an amazing life. Just not the one you’re dreaming of now.
So, Kim, if you only take one piece of advice from me – and I know you don’t take advice easily, it’d be this – relax. It’s OK not to be perfect. It’s OK to be vulnerable. It’s OK to be exactly who you are when you look in the mirror. You’re pretty cool. I’m sure Michael J Fox would agree.