Adult learner

Coco Khan

The Guardian - Weekend - - Front -

Les­son 41: the big night out Re­cently, I’ve been think­ing about a ques­tion I of­ten see posed in celebrity in­ter­views or on re­flec­tive blog­posts: “If you could say one thing to your younger self, what would it be?” Per­haps I’d urge the 18-year-old me to be more con­fi­dent, and re­as­sure her that what­ever it is will be OK in the end.

But truth­fully, in the hy­po­thet­i­cal sce­nario where an 18-year-old me finds a let­ter from her fu­ture self, the mes­sage would most likely sim­ply read: “So long, sucker!”

I’m just not old enough to look back on 18-year-old me with any real dis­tance. The teenager formerly known as Coco is not a faded mem­ory whom I can ob­jec­tively ob­serve. She is an an­noy­ingly near ver­sion of my­self, whom I am driven to im­prove upon. I’m still pay­ing for her mis­takes (three words: Top­shop store card); I am prob­a­bly still in a bit of com­pe­ti­tion with her. If my for­mer self were in a queue, I would def­i­nitely pre­tend I knew a ran­dom stranger near the front, just so

I could be ahead of her.

Yet there are many at­tributes of My­self the Younger that I ac­tively re­sist grow­ing out of. It’s prob­a­bly why, last week, for the first time in years, I found my­self at a rave. An ac­tual rave! You know the sort, with the flash­ing lights, heavy bass and sense of fore­bod­ing through­out?

Maybe that last one is just me. But still, it would sug­gest some in­evitable change is oc­cur­ring. I’m fairly cer­tain my 18-year-old self didn’t sit in si­lence hours be­fore any big night out wrought with anx­i­ety about queues, lack of loo roll and the price of wa­ter (£7!).

If the ques­tion was in­verted, and my teen self could send present-day me, sit­ting in the cor­ner of the rave, a mes­sage, I guess she would say: “See you later, loser!”

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