A Letter To My 13-Year-Old Self

Dear Paul,

This is your life for the next 10 years.

Right now, you can’t picture it.

Trust me, I know.

But congratulations, you graduated from elementary school! Everything you thought you knew about life is about to change. Say goodbye to recess. Say goodbye to Pizza Day. Say goodbye to copying notes off a powerpoint slide…for now. In the fall, you turn 14 and start high school a few days later.

Grade 9 will be different. New school. New start time. New friends. New responsibilities. You’ll have your own locker. Don’t worry, they aren’t as spacious as the lockers on Boy Meets World; no one will stuff you in a locker.

You’re going to be about 30 seconds late for your third period English class. Good job, slow poke! Now you’re stuck with a seat in the front row, but that’s okay, your eyesight isn’t what it used to be. As for your English teacher, he’ll become your favourite teacher and you’ll have him 3 more times by the time you graduate. Oh, and you’ll sit in the same seat each time, just because. Don’t believe me? You’ll see.

Also, you’ll receive a sheet of paper that says, “Expected Graduation Year: 2009”. You’ll laugh this off with the person next to you and say, “We just got here and they already want to get rid of us.” Good times.

Grade 10 will be a good year. You’ll make more friends, but your marks might drop. Don’t worry, you’ll pull a 79.5% average and make honour roll.

Grade 11 comes and all of a sudden you are closer to graduating than you are to the first day of Grade 9. You’ll love your media class and hate your math class. That’s right, you’ll realize you aren’t the math genius you thought you were. Not even BEDMAS can save you now. You’ll start looking at courses for University, not a lot though. You’ve basically decided you’re destined for a Radio & Television program.

And then March Break comes along and BAM! You realize you can’t just apply to one place next year. So you’ll do a random google search for programs about sports. It’s a complete shot in the dark. You think there is absolutely no way a program like that exists. Oh, but it does. And it’s located an hour and a half away. Is that too far? Am I allowed to move out? No it won’t be too far, and yes you can move out.

Grade 12 will be a breeze. You’ll have a spare each semester, in the most ideal spots too (3rd period and 1st period). Remember when you started Grade 9 and hated the early mornings? Now you can sleep in until 2nd period!

Despite the 76% in Data Management, you’ll graduate with an 88% average. You won’t really miss high school. It’ll just come to an end and you’ll leave. Oh, and right when your graduation ceremony ends, you’ll be informed that Michael Jackson has passed away. So, there’s that.

Now you’re off to University. You register for your courses and realize that only two of them are directly related to sports. Just when you thought you escaped taking classes you weren’t interested in…SURPRISE…you get to take Astronomy and Tourism, among other electives. Welcome to University.

First year will be odd. You won’t fully immerse yourself in the University experience. At the time, you won’t realize how much you’re missing out on. Nevertheless, you had a good year and will decide to return to residence for second year.

Over the summer you’ll get a job at a camp. Don’t bother looking for the job posting, it’ll find you by complete luck. You’ll work with some really great people and some really challenging kids, but it’ll be worth it. You’ll grow up a lot this summer. Warning: some children may come up to you while holding their pants. If this happens, hold your breath and try not to puke. Good luck, kid.

Your second year of University will be the school year that you’ll still be talking about when your 70-years-old. You’ll realize that returning to residence was the best decision you ever made because of the people you will share a floor with. They won’t be friends. They will be family. I won’t tell you too much, but you have this to look forward to.

You’ll return to camp for a second summer, and most likely your last. Your only goal for the summer is to have your group of fifteen boys cry on the last day. You go about this by being the best camp counsellor you can be for 2 months. If your campers are moved to tears, it’ll be because they don’t want to leave. Mission accomplished, Paul. Get ready to be a human tissue.

You return to residence for a 3rd year because why not? The first two years worked out pretty good for you, why break up the magic? You’ll meet a bunch of new people who will eventually merge with your other friends. That’s right, all of your friends are now friends. Cool, right?

In the summer, you can’t return to camp and it kills you inside. You have to find an internship instead. You’ll apply to 4 places, and get an interview at one of them. You didn’t get the job. Now what? You get lucky, again. 4 hours after getting rejected, just as you’re packing up to go home for the weekend, you’ll get an email from a place in your hometown asking for an interview. You get the job.

Now it’s your 4th year of University. You’ll remember that time in Grade 9 when you thought that you had just arrived there and that sheet of paper was already telling you when you would be leaving. You decide you want to make the most of your final year of school. Do as much as you can and try not to say no to anything.

You’ll have your hands around the neck of a clock the entire year, hoping you can pause time. Of course, you can’t. The year goes by quickly.

Get out a piece of paper, and a pen, and write this down: April 17, 2013 will be one of the happiest and saddest days of your life.

You’ll finish writing the last exam of your life and walk out of the gym feeling about 30 pounds lighter. No, you didn’t sweat that much during the exam. But rather, all the pressure is off. You did it. All the assignments. All the all-nighters. All the long answer questions you didn’t have an answer for. Everything will be done when the doors close behind you.

Then the hard part. Saying goodbye. This wasn’t hard for you in Grade 8, or Grade 12, but will be now. For the next 8 hours you will see your closest friends for the final time. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. But it will be hard. I suggest taking a walk around campus, by yourself, at 2AM after it’s all over. That’s the only way your school career can end.

You’ll move back home and questions of your future will come up everywhere you go. All of a sudden, your past doesn’t mean anything. Everyone wants to know why you don’t have a job. You’ll get tired of answering all the questions and probably distance yourself from people so you don’t have to disappoint them. All the while you feel bad about doing so.

During the summer, you’ll start a blog. Yes, really. I won’t tell you too much about it, but it’s a wise decision.

You’ll apply to a writing job in September. Yes, a writing job. It’s perfect for you. This is your light at the end of the tunnel. Alas, you don’t hear from them. You start wondering what’s wrong with you. Why does nothing interest you anymore?

You promise yourself that 2014 will be different. Reconnecting with old friends validates this. Then when you’re finally at peace with everything that has happened since last April, you’ll wake up to an email in February. An email from that job you applied to in September. You got it.

Again, you got a job out of nowhere.

This will put a sincere smile on your face for the first time in a long time. You’ll be happy.

And although it may not seem like a big deal, you think it is, because you know that it’s just the beginning.

My overall message to you as you’re about to enter high school is this: Life gets a lot harder, starting now. There will be a lot of uncertainty, but a lot of great moments. You’ll meet people that will change your life. You’ll get down on yourself. You’ll question what you’re doing with your life. But no matter what, keep moving. You have to keep moving. Even in your worst time, try to make other people laugh, because that will make you happy. Luck, patience, and instincts will get you through anything.

So when someone asks you where you see yourself in 10 years and you say, “Doing something I love,” realize that this is as valid an answer as the person that says they want to be a Doctor. Also realize that the journey to your destination will not be easy. But I promise you, it will be worth it, and you will get there.

This is your life for the next 10 years.

You’re gonna love it.

Trust me, I know.

Paul

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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8 Responses to A Letter To My 13-Year-Old Self

  1. Omg! It’s been that long since the king of pop died!!?? BEDMAS!!! Lol this was rather cute. I’ve thought about this before! Pretty sure you pulled it off way better then I would! Loved it! 😀

    Like

  2. markbialczak says:

    May the next 10 years bestow upon you enough challenge, frustration, satisfaction, pain, joy and achievement to fuel your post on April 4, 2024, Paul.

    Like

  3. I swear, your work keeps getting better and better!

    Like

  4. Marium M. says:

    I can totally relate to this! I finished university last April too and all the questions about getting a job and distancing yourself from everyone is exactly what’s happening to me! I thought it was just me! Thanks for sharing. Makes me feel a lot better that I’m not alone 🙂

    Like

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