“To get back my youth I would
do anything in the world,
except take excercise, get up early,
or be respectable”.
If you could send a letter to yourself aged 16, what would you write in it?
Dear Me is a collection of just such letters written by 75 of the world’s best-loved personalities to their younger selves and published with photographs of them as teenagers.
Dear Me has a foreword by JK Rowling, and celebrity contributors including Hugh Jackman, Kathleen Turner, James Franco, Jodi Picoult, Stephen King and John Waters.
Dear Me is for the teenager wondering what life is all about, someone looking back to their youth, or seeking homespun wisdom, or just a chance to meet some of your favourite stars… before they were famous…..
First of all, you’re right.
You’re right about who you think is wrong.
You’re right to trust your instincts and to be your own person.
Second of all. slow down.
Before you know it you’ll be away from home and you’ll be living your own life.
Don’t waste energy trying to make time move faster, because it won’t until one day when you don’t want it to and you’ll wonder if all those nights spent longing for the future are now being paid back by making a beautiful present more fleeting. So please, if only for my karmic peace of mind, chill out about it, ok?
You’re going to be really, really happy one day and you’re going to have a life that is so far from your comprehension right now that I’m not even going to try to explain how it happens. I can hardly work it out for myself. You just have to go with the flow, Alan. Just let go and tumble through life. It will all be okay.
But it’s not a commercial. There are really shitty bits. You don’t even know it but right now there are things happening to you that are too painful to process and so, like the adults around you, you’re just not dealing with them, suppressing them, locking them up in a box in your mind. When you’re 28, that box is going to explode open and tear your life apart.
Everything will change and there will be much pain and it will take you a long time to recover. But recover you will, and it will ultimately make you a better person, and those you love will benefit too.
You’re going to have lots of sex and you’re going to feel sexy.
Don’t worry. Just try and remember that it’s better for you to feel sexy about yourself than for other people to tell you you are.
It’s going to be okay.
In 1997 you’ll meet someone in New York at the party for the opening of ‘Titanic – the Musical’. Now, I am not one for regrets, Alan, and I truly believe that everything you experience between 16 and now all contributes to make you the really happy person that you become, so how could I wish any of it to be different? But, come on, the show is called ‘Titanic’, that should be an omen. Walk away from this person. You’ll never make them not be angry. Later on you’ll see a pattern of you trying to fix angry people and you’ll be able to break it, so do yourself a favour and walk away, let this one be the first. He will try to destroy you. He won’t, but he’ll try very hard.
You will love and be loved and be rich beyond your wildest dreams, and the best thing about this richness is that it has nothing to do with money. It’s all going to be okay.
A teacher at drama school is going to tell you that’ll you’ll never make it as a professional actor.
He is wrong. Wrong to say it, and just wrong because you do okay. Try not to let it dent you too much.
You’re never going to have children, Alan. You’re going to try, in relationships with both women and men, but it doesn’t happen, and that’s okay too. Right now you have the happiest family anyone could wish for.
It really is all going to be okay. I’ll see you in 29 years.
Dear 16-year-old me,
I am writing to you from forty years passed by, I love your passion and confidence, and want to tell you that you are right. You are about to have your world destroyed; the safety and security you feel now, taken away. Know that you have been taught well, both in character and tools for learning.
The lessons you have been given about love, loyalty, fairness, and determination will pay off. A few cautions: do not let your sense of humor, of the absurd, slip. Try to remember that what is happening at the moment is only that – a moment.
Try the “count to five rule.” Before reacting, before exploding, count to five.
You will be told that your dreams are absurd, childish fantasies. Don’t believe anyone, however much they mean well. Trust that core that tells you your dreams are true. This is very hard because you have no way of knowing yet that you are, but rely on that darned stubbornness you are told is a fault.
Value loved ones and let them know you do.
You will never be completely alone.
Give freely without considering the cost; it will never be too much.
Finally, love yourself. No one will be a harsher critic, so give yourself a break, OK?