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Saturday 10 October 2009

Notes to our 16-year-old selves

Posted in: True Stories
By Matt Akersten - 11th May 2009

Imagine you could open up a time bubble, attach a note to it, and send it back to your 16-year-old self. What advice would you send? Would your letter be an attempt at reassurance, or a warning? Dripping with regret, or victorious?

Stephen Fry shared a letter to his 16-year-old self with the UK's Guardian newspaper. "Dearest absurd child," it began. "You wrote a letter to your future self in 1973 and it is high time that your future self had the decency to write back."

Fry had several words of comfort for his "angry, angst-ridden and awkward" teenaged self who had struggled so much with the realisation of his gay sexuality. "You will … find yourself at university, where it will be astonishingly easy to be open about your sexuality," he typed.

"You will grow to be a very, very, very, very lucky man who is able to express his nature out loud without fear of hatred or reprisal from any except the most deluded, demented and sad."

Fry's heart-felt letter led several Guardian readers to share their personal letters to their younger selves, so we at also asked our diverse band of Forum members to join in. Here's what they told us they'd note down for their younger selves.


Philly Boi wrote a jolly letter to a 'hot kid':

Dear Phillip
You won't ever guess who this is, hahaha
It's your future self! OMG I know, hahaha
Mum loves you and telling her your gay won't destroy your friendship on any level... in fact she'll be the one who wants to give you advice all the time like a good friend.
School sucks I know but hey study hard... you don't love Michelle, in fact your only jealous she has a boyfriend and you don't... you suck at relationships with girls... answer to why?
Because you are a faggot, gay, homo, fudge packer (lol) just go with it.
Never lose your faith in your heart because it's served me well so far so trust it from now yeah?
Steven isn't gay so don't keep asking him for a pash... but when you get the chance to hug him in bed... go for it… you'll see why.
Yes you are one of the hot kids and acting like your oblivious to it will make you even better.
Now smile bitch and have fun OK?
Love ya xxx

Nuiginiboi shared several gold nuggets of advice:

Dearest Me,
Forgive yourself for the past, so you can live in the present.
Go through the pain you're living with, it will only make you stronger.
Love and accept everyone around you even when they are cruel to you, be an example for them.
Enjoy your family, they will always love you.
Always remember to smile, it ignites a light in others.
Everything and anything is possible for you, just believe in yourself.
Believe in God, it's better to have believed in pure love than nothing at all.
Follow your gut instinct, your mind tends to deceive you at times.
The answers you seek are within you, nothing external to you can give you pure happiness.
Ask for guidance, the people you meet on your life path will teach you many lessons.
Be quiet and still, there is great power in silence.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.
Everything does truly happen for a reason, believe that and you'll be at peace with yourself.
Lastly ,THANK YOU for being all that you can be and doing all that you could do.
loving you always

Dowie wrote about love, the recession and the whole sucky world:

Dear me,
Work harder at school, it will pay off! Don't rush growing up, the big wide world sucks. Enjoy your thick hair while you have it. Don't be so shy, it wastes time. Do what you enjoy at uni, but try to add in some business aspect to it, the economy is going to take a dive!
Oh, and don't be afraid to love!
Love, me!

8bit was very strict in his note:

The guy you sit next to in Mr MacGuire's Economics class will turn out to be gay.
You're too uptight. It'll take you about 10 years to learn that. Actually, you're a bit of a dick.
Don't drink that 1125 of Bacardi you'll steal from Mum and Dad.
Also, they know you wag English class - they find out at parent-teacher interviews.

An older Jdhunter27 reassured his shy younger self:

Dear me,
First of all, quit letting all the horror stories you've been reading on the internet get to you, you're not going to end up like Brandon Teena - although, I'd stay away from those kids you've been hanging out with when you do come out, because they won't take too kindly to it. The 'rents will be fine, and so will the crazy sisters, they all adjust well. But do get it over with, because you'll be a lot happier, trust me on this one!
Hang out with H* and you'll be better off for it, she's a fantastic girl and she'll be there for you when you really need it, just like you will be in return, because things get rough. Plus, she'll introduce you to the guy you'll fall head over heels for.
Don't buy into the bullshit people are going to try to feed you as a condition of validating who you are; you don't need to be manly, heterosexual, ineloquent and crass to be a man.
Overall, have faith in yourself, you can achieve more than you think you can. And try not to be so shy or you'll miss a lot of opportunities to make good friends and get involved in things you want to get involved in.

Dunedin01 shared simple truths about his best buddy:

Your "best friend" Tom is NOT gay and he will never understand the fact that you are... don't let this stop you from telling people though, it will be the best thing that ever happened to you.

The Pot Plant typed about her transgender journey:

Well hello there. This is yourself in 10 years.
Now, I have important and pressing news for you: you are a girl.
Of course, you already know this, but can't quite see a path to make it happen.
It does, eventually, of course- you're now called Ivy (I vetoed your, um, odd ideas like Xelenie. I mean, really...) for a start. Your hair is below your shoulders, though, it's actually shorter now than it was/will be in your third year of uni.
Anyway, I digress. You can make the girl thing happen much more quickly than it does.
Your family are going to have some issues with this, and take time to be ok with things, but that's no reason to run off and be depressed for 5 years until you leave home. If you push them on this, they'll actually turn out to be pretty damn cool with things.
The first thing I suggest is getting yourself some decent clothes to wear. Skirts. Girl tops. Jewellery. Yes, you'll be shitting yourself when you buy it, but the shop people will not care. Also, they actually believe you if you say you're buying it for your girlfriend. But for the love of the deity of your choice, do actually try things on.
Anyway, then wear those things. People will get used to it. Your parents might even ask what's happening- use that as an opportunity to tell them everything you've always wanted. Don't worry if their response isn't that flash, they still love you. Also, contrary to what your parents might think, you're brother is well mature enough to handle absolutely anything, and you might as well tell him get this out of the way now.
Try and be who you are at school too, even if it is boys only. Beat up the bullies too. It'll send up flags that something is up with you, plus some of them you might beat.
In any case, try and set things up so that you transition to living as a girl the moment you leave school. You'll be much happier for it. Join UniQ and Rainbow Youth and meet lots of awesome people, they'll help you immensely. Be yourself, and you'll love it.

Tones wrote a frank but positive letter:

This is Tones from ten years in the future ...
Coming out as bisexual was a lie, in fact it was a load of shit you're going to be a fully fledged lesbian, but that's okay.
You'll find love and happiness, the road to it will be a bit rough [keep your money and your heart in your pocket and don't share too much of it with anyone until you're at least 24].
I know you thought that workshop presenter from RY was pretty crisp, make sure you go in to Rainbow Youth in the city, it will change your life for the better, you won't believe me if I tell you what you have achieved. Your life will come back on track in your mid twenties, before you hit 25 make sure you drink and fuck all you can.
And yes, you will start smoking but quit when you find the girl of your dreams.

Lumiere wouldn't dare change anything about his life path:

Dear me,
How's it going? Confusing times eh?
I want to tell you to do things very differently - I want to tell you to be true to what you know is really your sexuality.
There's so many things I want to tell you to do, feel and experience differently, but the fact is that I can't. If you do anything to veer off the path you're currently on - anything at all - you will never get to create and love the two people that you will come to value the very most in your life. I'm not going to tell you who they are because you'd never believe me if I did. In time you'll understand.
So let them bully you into doing subjects that you hate - you'll ultimately drop them anyway and find a very different and unexpected way of doing what you love. Let what those fuckwits did to you last year keep you stuck in the closet for the time being - the clothes don't fit very well, but in time you'll find a different wardrobe. Life won't seem fair for quite a few years yet, but hang in there bud.

A younger Thane needed to leave the closet:

Dear Thane,
Be social! Go out regularly and spend time with your friends, don't waste the next seven years behind a computer, not socializing at all, trying to be the next Bill Gates, YOU WILL FAIL!!! Spend time with your friends, they will not be around forever. Start going out and meeting new people. Friends are the best! I finally figured that out!
You are gay! You are attracted to men. Don't believe me? Tape Home and Away.The men regularly get shirtless, you'll love it! And while you are at it just tape every soap that is on, including old repeats. COME OUT OF THE CLOSET! All the people you know will accept you, including your parents but I don't know about your grandparents, I don't know if they know. Seriously, just come out, you'll be much happier which actually isn't saying much as you have turned into a bitter, twisted, moody, sexually frustrated, crippled homosexual. Hopefully talking my advice will avoid this. Listen to music regularly, it will also help. Also don't be ashamed of your tastes! I don't think you ever were.
Also just say whatever the hell you want, people mostly appreciate your honesty and humour.

And lastly, Starbuck wrote to share some very useful info:

Dear Me,
Here are the lotto numbers for the next 10 years.
Love Me.

Did these letters get you thinking? Share your own note for your younger self on our Forum.


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Matt Akersten - 11th May 2009