"That matte lipstick makes you look like you sleep in a coffin. Give it up. And wax your upper lip" ... Chrissie Swan. Photo: Julian Kingma
There's a craze that's gone bonkers, and, no, I'm not talking about the hyper-charismatic Korean genius who goes by the name of Psy and has taught preschoolers and grandparents alike to stroke their own legs while singing, "Heeeyyyy, sexy lady!"
I'm talking about the trend of writing letters to your 10-year-old self. The letters started dripping in a few years ago and, since then, they've become a deluge of pretty much the same warnings. The most common of these include, "Don't let the turkeys get you down", "You will find someone who really loves you" and "Don't believe that mean girl when she tells you you're fat and useless".
When I turned 10, something extraordinary happened. My mum gave me my own key to the family home so I could let myself in after school, and I never looked back. In fact, it was a great year. I wore shoes from Sportsgirl and listened to Wham!'s Make It Big, and saved up all my pocket money for a cat which ended up celebrating my 27th birthday with me. Things were sweet. And, frankly, if I could go back to 1984, all I'd say to myself is, "You probably do need a bra for those sore little walnut boozies but, apart from that, carry on."
Not so to my 23-year-old self. So let's go, instead, to 1996 ...
Are your eyes feeling small and toxic because you ate four home-brand dim sims last night for dinner? Thought so. That's cool. One day you'll be able to afford something exotic like rocket and bocconcini, so don't sweat it. I do, however, wish to point out that if you hadn't just sunk yourself into debt for that white Grundig TV, you'd probably be enjoying a plate of something nutritious right now. But choices are what define us and, in truth, TV is going to be important. So get another bag of dimmies.
I think it's great that you've enrolled in your dream university course to finally chase your goal of becoming an advertising copywriter. It took a lot of effort and you were right to celebrate it with 14,000 bottles of lambrusco and all your naughty friends. Remember to recycle those bottles as candle holders, by the way. You'll need them in a few years when you host share-house board-game nights attended by friends and four families of mice.
About uni, I should bring to your attention that you will need to actually attend some tutorials - and by this I don't mean sitting in a city cafe, smoking with your hairy mate Nick Swifte, drinking coffee and plotting whose notes you'll scam. Also, when the other people in your course see you in a lecture and exclaim, "What?! Chrissie's here? There must be a test!" this is not a compliment.
Let's go now to the beauty department. You're all right. No real problems ... but that matte lipstick makes you look like you sleep in a coffin. It also comes off in sheets on those coffee cups you're so fond of studying during "tutorials". Give it up. And wax your upper lip. Do it now and you will avoid an embarrassing intervention in a few years from your gay housemate.
Your boyfriend is a great fellow, and when you finally break up with him after seven years you will think it was a waste of time because it didn't end in a ring and babies. Don't. That relationship was a lovely safe house through your whole 20s and meant you avoided most of the types of men you'll meet in your 30s. And anyway, if you had married that guy and had kids you wouldn't have the man and little boys you have now and they are awesome and worth waiting for.
Finally, you are terrible with money right now and are focused on fun over almost anything else. Accept it. You are not going to change. You are in big trouble from your mum right now for buying that apple-green vase for $95. True, this amount does represent a week's rent and half a month's payment plan on the parking fine debt you've accrued for leaving your Daihatsu Charade wherever the hell you like for however long you want.
But tell your mum to back off. That vase will bring you joy your whole life, and give you a thrill every time you look at it, because it represents that you had faith that one day you'd be able to afford a few beautiful things and have a lovely house with gorgeous people in it you made.
And so it will be.
Chrissie (at one week from 39 years old)
PS. I mean it about the moustache. And for God's sake don't bleach it. Just because it's orange doesn't mean it's invisible.
This article first appeared in Sunday Life.