31 years ago today…
… I wrote the words below in my diary:
“Know what I sometimes wonder? I sometimes wonder what it’ll be like looking back over this diary in, say, 30 – 40 years time. What will I be like? What will have changed? What will I look like? Will I even remember the people and places mentioned here? Will I be able to read my own handwriting? The most important question of all, of course, is what will I be doing? Will I be a successful actress/singer? (I hope so!) Will I be something boring, like a businesswoman? Will I be a married housewife with loads of screaming kids? (NO!!!!) Will I still be ALIVE, even?! Well, today is the beginning of the decision that will change my life. Today we were given our report cards and course choice sheets. My report wasn’t too bad but I’m seriously worried about the course choice, because if I don’t make the right choice it could ruin my whole life. I’m so worried! I think I could cope better if I didn’t have my period, but that’s life I suppose.
I read this back a few days ago, when I was transcribing it as part of the Patreon project I mentioned here, and … WELL. If only I’d KNOWN, huh? Because, spoiler alert, it was not, in fact, to be the decision between art and economics that was to “ruin my life” in 30-40 years time. (I choose economics, btw. Regrets, I’ve had a few…) Nah, it was to be the freaking PANDEMIC, which, can you even IMAGINE if my younger self had somehow known THAT was one of the options she was facing? Because, Younger Me thought being an OMGBUSINESSWOMAN or having … wait for it … CHILDREN… was the absolute worst thing she could have ended up doing with her life, but… well, just you wait, young Padawan. Just you wait.
Anyway, we all know how things worked out for Amber the Younger, but, just for the record, I thought I’d answer some of the questions I posed for myself, purely because I know the person I was back then would’ve gotten a real kick out of knowing that would actually happen one day. So, here we go…
Q. What will I be like?
A. Well, Amber the Younger, if the diary entries I’ve transcribed so far for this project are anything to go by, you’ll be EXACTLY as you are now – only without the really bad perm you’re going to get in a few weeks time, and which will be the cause of many, many tears cried into your pillow.
Seriously, as I’ve been going through my old diary, the main thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve barely changed AT ALL. That’s not a good thing, just in case you were wondering. Like, if my life was a novel, and I sent it to an editor, they’d send it right back, with a note saying it had been rejected as there was absolutely no character development, and, honestly not much of a plot, either. The main protagonist is basically born, complains a lot, and then continues to complain, about all the same things, forever. THE END. And this is why my career as a novelist never took off, just FYI.
Q. What will have changed?
A. Pretty much everything and nothing. There’ll be the whole ‘pandemic’ business, obviously. There’ll be the internet. TV will get really good, and fashion will get better too, but then it’ll randomly veer right back to the 90s again, and everyone will still be wearing mom jeans and tracksuits, so, you know, swings and roundabouts, really.
There will be tons of technological and scientific advances, but, at the same time, we’ll still have the racism, the sexism, and all that other stuff you’re always complaining to your diary about, in an early display of wokeness, so I don’t know what to tell you here. Oh, and Donald Trump will be president at one point. (I don’t think you’re particularly aware of who Donald Trump is right now, because he’s not either at your school or in a boy band, so just try to enjoy this time of blissful ignorance for now …) Anyway, knowing you as only I do, I have a feeling you probably meant that question to be about YOU rather than the world in general, so, OK, back to you if we must…
Q. What will I look like?
A. The same, but with better teeth, and you’ll get rid of those moles on your face that you always hated. You’ll stop obsessing about your freckles, but during the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 – 2021 you’ll dramatically age by roughly 40 years every single week, and will want to hide all the mirrors in your house. No, you will never “grow into yourself,” as your mum keeps saying you will, if that’s what you’re asking. You are not that heroine in a chick lit novel who just doesn’t realise how beautiful she is, and yes, your legs have stopped growing now, so they really will always look this stumpy. Jeans shopping will always be hard for you, and that’s just the cross you’ll have to bear, unfortunately. Forever.
I’d love to tell you that none of this will matter to you by the time you’re my age, but, actually, yes, IT WILL MATTER. Because you will always be a bit shallow, really. This… isn’t going well, is it? Wait until you find out that Bros split up in 1992, though!
Q. Will I even remember the people and places mentioned here?
A. Most of them, yes. You will have no recollection whatsoever, though, of the time the mysterious Gary McDonald called when you were in the bath and asked you out: which is a shame, because that was literally the only interesting thing that happened to you that year. And for many years afterwards, if we’re being honest.
While you will still remember the people who were important to you, though, as you look back through these diaries, you’ll be quite freaked out to realise just how many of the ordinary days and moments would’ve been forgotten altogether, if not for your weird insistence on documenting them. Almost everything you’re writing about now will be forgotten, you see, until you randomly pick up that old diary one day and read about it again, and then it’ll come back to you, with a rush of nostalgia that will be almost painful … although not if it’s the Gary McDonald incident, because that’s gone for good, unfortunately…
Q. Will I be able to read my own handwriting?
A. Surprisingly, yes. You’ll hardly ever have to write anything by hand in the future, though, so all of that time you spent trying to develop an interesting handwriting style will turn out to have been in vain, sadly.
Q. Will I be a successful actress / singer?
A. Instead of answering that question, I’m just going to drop to the floor next to my seat and laugh until I cry. Then just cry. Then want to reach back through the years and slap some sense into you, I mean, SERIOUSLY, AMBER, no, you’re not becoming a famous singer or actress, FFS! (You will do quite a bit of acting, to be fair, but almost all of it will involve feigning interest in Play Dough for your toddler, and pretending to be dramatically sucked out of his room at night, because he thinks that’s hilarious. So at least someone will appreciate you!)
Q. Will I be something boring, like a business woman?
A. You will be something boring, yes, but you won’t be a businesswoman, because, sorry, you’re not going to grow up clever enough for that. Actually, you will be something called a “blogger”: a career that hasn’t been invented yet, but which basically involves just continuing to write your diary, really, only on a thing called the “internet”. I know you probably think that sounds quite cool, but, unfortunately for you, you will be a blogger, but you won’t be one of the really popular ones, and no one will think you are cool. Sorry. On the plus side, you’ll be allowed to drink alcohol in a few years, and that will help you forget all these troubles, so…
Q. Will I be a married housewife with loads of screaming kids?
A. Er, wow, is that the time? Sorry, have to run, can’t answer that one…!
Also, some things Younger Me didn’t ask, but which I’d like to tell her anyway…
01. No, today will NOT, in fact, be the day that changes your life. Actually, the course choices you make today won’t make the slightest difference to your life as an adult. None whatsoever. So, seriously, take art instead of economics. Because, yes, you’ll pass the economics exam, but you’d ENJOY the art classes… and you are definitely not growing up to be an economist, or anything even remotely like one, so, you know, less stress might be a good thing here? Maybe?
02. You will definitely cope better when you don’t have your period. Thanks for telling us, though!
03. Never lose the ability to segue effortlessly from “existential crisis” to “Bros being on Wogan,” because that kind of mindset is what will help you survive 2020. Trust me on this…