This was supposed to be a post about Fiji but then I came across these letters that Guardian readers wrote to their 16-year-old selves. I’ve pasted some of my favourites below but please go and check out the full article it’s full of wise words.
Last week in G2, Stephen Fry wrote a heartfelt letter to himself, aged 16. Hundreds responded with their own letters to their teenage selves.
Just a quick note to say that the vegetarian thing didn’t work out in the end. You might as well cave in now, rather than spend the next 15 years longingly sniffing other people’s dinners.
No matter what you do, think or wear, some people will dislike you, and some will be mean – it’s honestly no reflection on your character that you don’t delight everyone. When it comes to friendship, quality always trumps quantity.Also, stop smoking. And men make plenty of passes at bookish girls in glasses.
I know you’re currently in the loathsome grip of clinical depression after that nervous breakdown you had last year. Life is not very fun for you and I wish I could go back in time to meet you and give you a great big hug. The bad news – five years later you will still have depression and you will still have ME. The good news – you may never get well, but you will definitely get better. Chin up, kid, you’ll make it.
1. Get over her. She doesn’t fancy you, barely notices you and she isn’t half as pretty or intelligent as you think once you get to know her. Listen to the people who know her – are they impressed? 2. Lavish a little more attention on the prim goody-two-shoes girl from the English class instead. 3. Insist to mum that the BBC Micro computer is moved from your older brother’s bedroom to somewhere you can all use it. He’s hogging it but he doesn’t really know how to use it for anything more than playing Jetpack Willy and Frag. 4. Don’t take career advice from your parents. Unfortunately their advice is provided on a “well it worked for me” basis, which was only really useful 30 years previously. 5. Read more and dance more. They are both indulgent and rather embarrassing pastimes for you right now, but they are both extremely good for you.
Please do not get too hung up on Mum’s and Dad’s divorce. Shit invariably happens. Try not to rise to Mum’s grief and scornful outbursts against Dad, but always remember to tell her how much you love her regularly. If not, the pressure of the situation will completely mess up your college and uni years and you will be going back to study (as I am now) when every one of your real friends is settled down with a mortgage, kids and appears to have every happiness. Oh, and one more thing, using drugs really isn’t a good escape. The same issues will be there tomorrow. The rest of the family will find out and you don’t need me to tell you how narrow-minded they can be.
Don’t be so frightened of the risk of failure. You will eventually realise that people screw up and make fools of themselves all the time, and life goes on much the same. Mistakes and embarrassments are usually quickly forgotten, so it’s worth taking some risk in life, as the benefits hugely outweigh the downside. Argue vociferously to take a gap year before going to university (get a job, fund it yourself) – you need to experience a bit of life and develop some self-confidence before heading into that world, otherwise you’ll spend your entire first year feeling like a tadpole in an ocean, and miss out on a whole bunch of opportunities. Spend more time with your grandpa. He’ll not be around for ever, and you’ll regret not being around him more once he’s gone. And you still don’t have that Ferrari.