Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A letter to my 16 year old self

I saw a book on Saturday called Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self and was impressed by some of the entries by famous people.

So here is a letter from me to me - although I reserve the right to alter it as inspiration strikes. I hope that you are interested enough to do the same on your own blog if you have one.

It's actually quite difficult to find the right way to approach it - do you write as if your 16 year old self can make changes, make a list of instructions for life or are you just preparing yourself for a journey that has already happened? I chose a combination of all three, as the first option alone would simply mean I'd list a load of regrets:

Dear Stephen

Let me start by saying that your overall lack of self confidence and shyness is all in your head and you will grow out of it - maybe not fully, but it wont set you back. You have been, and will always be a late bloomer - it takes a while to figure things out and action them. Don't stress about it, just recognise that it takes you a little longer to get somewhere.

You have attractive black hair and it may be worth making the most of it while you can.

You have a talent with art and music, you must not let them waste away completely. Although you may not make a career from these skills, you will use them and enjoy them at every opportunity. New music will come into your life over the next few years that will increase your appreciation and enjoyment even further - always allow yourself to be open to new music and culture. You will soon pick up a guitar and you'll love it - make sure you practice hard.

OK, now the biggie... you are gay and there is no denying it. You will have a couple more girlfriends, but those fumbles you enjoyed so much with schoolmates are the way forward. As I have already mentioned, as a late bloomer, "coming out" will take a while to plan and execute and it's going to be scary as hell, but well worth the sleepless nights leading up to the event. Nearly everyone will know you are gay by the time you do it anyway, so it will be an amazing anti-climax.

Get that tattoo you want. It will hurt like hell, but it will look cool forever.
The friends you had at school will fade away and you will make wonderful new friendships that will undoubtedly last a lifetime. You will find love, but you will have to be patient as getting your head around being gay will take a year or two yet.

A new type of TV programme is coming - avoid it or you will get sucked in. It's called "reality TV".

As for family, make an effort to get to know your brothers and father. As you'll never have children, your niece and nephews will be a perfect surrogate. Your grandparents, as you know, are some of the warmest people you will ever meet - take the time to get to know them well as they have some amazing experiences and stories to share before it's too late.
Crystal Palace will not win the FA Cup and they will stress you out for years to come.

Your career (for want of a better word) will have a strange path and you are unlikely to ever figure out "what you want to be when you grow up". You naturally find the line of least resistance, so you must push yourself to learn more and more. This will mean studying and more exams I'm afraid. Never stay in a job that you hate.

And to end, my advice for you would be to take more risks as you play it too safe, too often. Oh... and wear sunscreen.



  1. What a wonderful thing....I am going to have to do this soon on my blog.....your letter was so well thought out, to bad there isnt a way to go back intime and place it somewhere that your 16 yr old self would actually find it....such a cool thing, thanx for sharing this;)

  2. where is doctor who when you need him;)

  3. You were very good looking at 16 - what happened?!!?


  4. Stephen started working at the same company that I was slaving away - I was obviously smarter, because I still have all my hair :-)

  5. Thanks for stopping by my web site. I enjoyed reading your letter. The part about making the most of your hair--classic! And the anti-climax at coming out, its probably nice to have that realization in retrospect. I'm sure it was awful at the time. I hope other bloggers will write similar letters. I think its a good literary exercise, but also one that's good for your spirit.

  6. Letter to my 16 year old self:

    If you spent a bit more time studying and less time in the bathroom pleasuring yourself, you might just pass some exams!

  7. Thanks for reading my post http://mrssauga.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/dear-me-letter-to-my-16-year-old-self/ . You're right, this is a wonderful exercise and something that does take a bit of thought.

  8. Amusing and touching in equal measure. But experience isn't always a good thing. I'm sure my 16-year-old self was a good deal more dynamic and carefree than I am now, and I wouldn't wish to interfere with that. I actually suspect that he could teach me more than I could teach him!

    How about penning a reply from your sixteen-year-old self?!

  9. How about writing a letter to yourself that will be opened in 10 years time!?!

  10. I hope you don't mind...but your blog inspired me to do the same thing on my blog.

    Just wanted to say thank you.

  11. Daniel - It would be nice to still have the OPTION to grow a semi-mullet!

    Devil's Advocate - you're welcome!

  12. I did exactly the same thing! Announced it on my blog, and then published it on my site. I wonder if our teenage selves would have even listened!