Dear Peter

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to meet up with you for a chat.  A bit awkward I guess, with both of us feeling our way.   Anyway, since we can’t meet (if we could, would we recognise each other?) I thought I’d write you a note – brief because I seem to remember you had a short attention span.  By the way, if you ever get around to reading my life story, One thing just led to another, you’ll find the final chapter (called Reflections) describes twelve things I claim to have learnt from my experiences.

However, you’ll be glad to hear that I’m going to be more succinct here and confine myself to just three points that I’m arrogantly assuming you’ll find interesting – maybe even useful.  Looking back, I wish someone had told me these three things.  But perhaps I’m imagining I’d have welcomed them and found them worthwhile.  Anyway, I’ll let you be the judge (what else can I do?).

The first point is about choice.  Now that you’ve left school where so many things were compulsory, you’ll find life is one choice after another.  You choose what to do and when to do it; you choose how to behave towards people; you choose what to think and believe; you choose how to feel about things.  Just about everything is a choice.  You can even choose to feel cheerful and interested (as opposed to miserable and bored).  It took a while for me to fully appreciate that I can choose, and that my choices have consequences, and I’m hoping that alerting you to this will speed things up.

My second point is about being purposeful (another choice of course!).  If I’m not mistaken you have drifted through your childhood years pretty aimlessly and been lucky to have left school with your O and A Levels.  Now that you have reached the age of 18 it’s time to decide to be more purposeful. Think about what you want to do and set yourself some aims/objectives/targets (it doesn’t matter what you call them).  I’d urge you to make these challenging but realistic (an interesting balancing act).  Giving yourself unrealistic targets sets yourself up for failure (not necessarily a bad thing so long as you learn from the failure).  Best to have aims that, all things considered, will stretch you.  Remember SMART – S for specific, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for realistic, T for timebound.

Finally, women.  I know you’ve been to a boy’s school and that up until now you’ve had relatively few opportunities to mix with girls and that when you have, you’ve been self-conscious and relatively tongue-tied (all these years later, and I well remember this!).  I’d urge you to stop putting women on untouchable pedestals and/or fretting about how to have sex with them.  Just treat them as your equals (not the opposite sex; a most unhelpful description) and make friends with them.  It’s taken me years to feel relaxed and comfortable with women and I’d really like to help you overcome your learnt shyness far faster than I did.  The key is to remember you’ve learnt to feel inadequate and shy with women and if you’ve learnt it, you can unlearn it!  Give it a go, choose to relax and just chat without worrying (a) what they think of you and (b) whether it will lead anywhere.

It only remains for me to wish you a happy, purposeful life.  I know, and now you know, you’ve got at least 68 years ahead of you.  Do please make the most of them.  The choice is yours and yours alone.

All the best,

Peter            

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