Open letter to an 18 Year Old.

Open letter to an 18 Year Old.

I am so angry I want to explode! I’m angry at myself first and foremost and then at a young girl whose life I could have influenced and because I was to exhausted after raising my own children, chose not to engage.

I’m angry because I see another young soul think she is worth less than her brother because she has a vagina. Because she believes than men are entitled to more regardless of their IQ. I’m angry because she thinks the path she has chosen is well thought out, that she will escape mediocrity and all its charming allure, when all she has really done is chosen small.

This girl, like so many others is completing her matric this year. She proudly tells the story, as if to illustrate her escape from mediocrity, That in her group of friends, all 18, one has a baby, one is five months pregnant and five are engaged to be married! I hope that you are horrified!

She thinks that going to a small town, second grade university to get an insignificant degree makes her more equipped to deal with the world. If this was her only option I would agree. Getting a degree is a fabulous first step to becoming all you can be. But it’s not.

She is probably going to get at least 4 to 6 distinctions. She has a British passport with a parent already established in the UK and has the opportunity to study abroad. She thinks earning R120 makes her independent and that I am completely stupid. She cannot see that she has taken all her potential and reduced it to the size of a pin head, if not smaller!

What really blows my mind (you are still adding on my favourite word?) is that her parents, who know better are allowing her to make this grievous decision.

We all experience fear, we all live in its shadows and we all make safe choices. At 18 we all knew better. Not everyone is ‘Sharon the Salmon’ as someone recently called me and maybe I should be satisfied with that, but I’m not.

I am angry because I have failed her and her group of friends. A baby at 17! Are you kidding me? Where on earth was contraception? Where were the discussions about safer, healthier, less life changing alternatives? Oh I know- we don’t talk about sex!!!

Why are 18 year old’s getting engaged? I’ll tell you why, because they think they are in love and want to have sex! What are these parents thinking?

How much do they hate their daughters (and the sons) to allow them to think about marriage at the age of 18? And don’t tell me you can’t fight love! Rubbish, this is about biology!

They think they are in love because they have no idea what their bodies are really saying. They are confusing lust with love and are going to make choices because they are ‘lus’. They do not understand that that feeling is a normal part of sexuality and does not need marriage to be satiated.

Let’s not talk about masturbation as an alternative let’s rather let them learn the hard way.

We have doomed them and thousands more to a life filled with –what if! It breaks my heart. They will have their 2.2 children and the white picket fence for all of 5 seconds and then the horrible reality of their choices will set in. One in a thousand will be happy the rest will stick it out because the ego is a stubborn task master. It would rather be unhappy than admit it’s stupid decisions.

I am so sad. I wish I’d done more. I wish I’d been able to educate the parents if not the children. I am convinced that teaching children about sex and sexuality will empower them to make better choices. I believe that educating your children about masturbation and biology will teach them to make the distinction between love and lust, which in turn will allow them to make different choices.

That little girls understanding their body and the world of possibilities available to them will make them better mothers, lovers, wives, businesswomen and that the world would be a better place for it.

To the young girl in question, or if you recognise her in someone you know pass this on.

You have believed the wrong version of yourself. You are so much more. Your future can be so much bigger than the small, safe option you have chosen. I weep, Oh Lord I weep!

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