As today is my 23rd birthday (yes I know, aren’t I getting old) I thought I would write a little blog post addressed to my 16 year old self.
This is by no means an original idea, as I have seen it floating around on a few other blogs, however it is an idea which I am keen to explore.
I think the most sensible way to go about organising my thoughts is to break them down into categories which I would want to address if I had the opportunity to go back in time.
Let us first look at the topic of parents. At the ripe age of sixteen, they are the only types of creatures that can be both exceptionally embarrassing and annoying at the same time without needing to utter a single syllable. At sixteen years of age it seems as if all they want to do is to rule your life, they tell you to do this, to eat that, stay clear of them, all the while wanting you to revising for GCSE’s. I (just like any other teenage in this country) gave my parents a run for my money during those turbulent years. By reading my blog, to some extent you would be right in thinking I was g0ds gift (after all that is what Jonathan means in Hebrew), however I wasn’t always like this. I was well shaped by two parents whose strong will shaped me into what I am today. Therefore if there was one message I could give my 16 year old self one message it would be, although as painful as it is to admit it, they were
always usually right, and although what they did/said at the time may have seemed unfair at the time, they only wanted what was best.
Secondly the topic of education, being sixteen meant I was halfway through my GCSE’s, and boy what a fun time that was. Although at the moment I have two (soon to be three degrees under my belt), I didn’t know that I would be in this position nine years ago. GCSE’s were an odd creature to tame, on one hand I had a small amount of input in what subjects that I took and so enjoyed most of them, and on the other I still had to do subjects which I simply hated, maths being amongst one of them. I knew that these exams were important, however I was enjoying the social side of school, and so whilst my studies didn’t take a back seat, they certainly weren’t in the first five rows. My GCSE results were not bad by any stretch of the imagination, however they could have been better. So if my sixteen year old self was reading this, I would advise him to study that little bit more, yes by the time you get to your second degree very few people care about them, but they are needed, and so a few more A-B grades would have been helpful.
Thirdly the topic of friends. At the age of sixteen there is a massive competition to see who has the most number. All you had to do was look at the social networking sites to see who really took their popularity seriously, as no sooner had the first day of school ended you were prompted with a friend request. After GCSE’s it is inevitably the time where some of your friends move on to other schools to do their A-levels, or enter into employment and so the promises to remain life long friends, meet up every weekend and holiday beings. Its true that these friendships are important, and some of them do last, however there is no need to get as teary eyed as some people do/did. Having been through GCSE/A-Level/Undergrad/Postgrad courses (with new friends attached to each) you soon learn that the majority of friends come and go. It is true that a small handful of those you keep in touch with, and try to meet up when you are all back at home, however you all do move on, its natural. So sixteen year old Jonathan, there is a distinction between number of friends that you have, and those which you really try to keep in touch with, and its important to keep that distinction. I mean if I tried to keep in touch with everyone from high school, undergrad and postgrad days I would be well into quadruple figures, which is simply impossible. There are a handful of people who when I am back in Leeds I try and see from high school, and when I have a free moment in Manchester meet up with those from my undergrad and postgrad days. That is not to say that if anyone else outside this group contacted me I would give them the cold shoulder, it simply means that I got on with some people more than others, which I suppose is normal, and these are the people I want to keep in touch with.
Finally, what the future holds. At sixteen I would have given anything to see where I would have been at the age of 18/19 and see what I was studying at uni and where/what I was doing. The bonus of being 23 is that I can now look back on such things and say that my predictions were absolutely wrong. Yes I knew I wanted to go to university, do business and get involved in law, but I had no idea how I was going to get there. Nine years on the path is much clearer, yes there are a few choices to make that may change where I go, but if younger Jonathan is listening I would say; yes its good to have a plan, however don’t stick to it too carefully, as it would prevent you going somewhere you may really enjoy.