If you had the opportunity to write to your 16-year-old self, what would you say?
That was the question put to a number of celebrities in 2009 when, in an effort to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, a book filled with such letters was planned. The end product, Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self, soon arrived and is a wonderful book of correspondence that manages to touch on every emotion possible as a result of the diverse range of characters who kindly contributed.
Below is a small selection of the many letters featured in Dear Me, these six written by Jonathan Ross; Debbie Harry; Emma Thompson; Danny Wallace; Alan Carr; and Patsy Kensit. Additionally, Elton John’s letter to himself, which has been featured on Letters of Note previously, can be read here.
Transcripts follow each image. All images courtesy of the book’s editor, Joseph Galliano.
Hello young me!
I have no real wisdom to pass on — only to tell you to stop panicing! You are not cool, I know, but it is a quality that is vastly over-rated. Stop worrying about the opinion of others and be yourself! You will eventually lose your virginity and go to Disneyworld (though not on the same day). Try to avoid gossips & gossiping. Value your friends. Eat less chocolate. Read more! You will be happy!!
You will be blessed with a great family!
Things you will never be very good at: Dancing; playing piano; kissing.
Things you will always love: Comics; punk rock; masturbation (although sex is better).
If I may quote a band who will not have a hit until you are 23…
© Frankie Goes to Hollywood 1983
Dear Debbie, Moon, Debeel, or Deb,
Just because you have a lot of different names, and maybe feel like there’s a lot of different yous, don’t be confused. Give yourself some time and all the ideas and possibilities that these names conjure up for you will become clear to you. The pieces of the puzzle will reveal themselves and all you have to do is keep finding out what makes you feel happiest and this oftentimes will be the easiest thing for you to do. This is remarkable in itself. That the most obvious is often the best choice and can lead to something wonderful and satisfying.
In simpler words, go for it girl. ‘Nothing to fear but fear itself’ is such an old saying but if it helps you take a flying leap and if it’s the only thing that happens, you will have the lasting, lifelong satisfaction of having made a leap. That you have the courage of your convictions and the strength within yourself to do anything, will be your core and your future can be enjoyed even when things get tough. They will get tough and they will get easy and when you look back at those times, the rough ones will often be the ones you remember best.
Dreams Do Come True. Keep Dreaming,
May 29th 2009
Dear Em (16)
I realise that you are young and in love and that nothing much that anyone old says seems relevant, but seeing as it’s me — that is, you; that is, us, I think it’s worth a go.
Two Top Tips from 50 to 16:
1) Don’t EVER EVER EVER bother to go on a diet. I know you’re obsessed and have that awful thing of standing in the 6th form canteen trying to choose between a yoghourt & a breathe of fresh air (whilst wanting chips & a cheese salad). Don’t sweat it. Eat regularly, try & avoid rubbish and never diet. You’ll end up the same size anyway, so drop it girl, & drop it NOW. Believe me — nobody cares. Diets are the best way of confusing your metabolism for the rest of your life. Just be you & get on with it, I cannot tell you how much time & energy you’ll save & how much happier you’ll be.
2) When he says he doesn’t love you, believe him. He doesn’t.
That’s it. All the other mistakes you make are worth their weight in gold.
I love you — Em (50)
Hello there! It’s me! You! Us!
I am writing to you from the future. It is great here. My robot butler says hello, and once I’ve landed this jetpack on my iHome I’ll say hello back.
I am 32 now, which is twice your age. This means I have twice your experience! Twice your knowledge! I’ve kissed twice as many girls! (2!!!)
Sadly, I am also twice your size.
But on the subject of girls, I am writing to warn you. You know that girl you kissed recently near the leisure centre in town? Your first? In a few months time, it will become apparent that she plays for her own team. Do not panic. Despite what Alec and Chris will tell you, you did not do this.
Anyway, after you turn that girl into a lesbian (sorry), you will encounter what you will come to know as an extended dry patch. Again, do not panic. After that, you will be fighting them off. (This may be a lie).
One thing: can I suggest you start learning the guitar now, as that will make us seem a lot cooler at university, when we end up sharing a flat with some musicians, and all we can really do to join in of an evening is bang a toaster with a spoon. This will do your extended dry patch absolutely no good whatsoever. But don’t just learn the stuff you’re into now. No one’s going to be interested in acoustic versions of Proclaimers tracks, or Dancin’ On The Ceiling. You’re going to have to start pretending you’re interested in Jeff Buckley, and Bob Dylan.
Oh hang on, you can’t.
Actually, buy shares in Google. That should sort just about everything out.
P.S. VITAL! MAKE SURE YOU STAY IN ON THE NIGHT OF [Illegible]
You probably can’t read this because you won’t have your glasses on. I know you don’t like wearing them but believe me — you’ll grow into them. I’ll be honest with you — that isn’t puppy fat!! It stays with you for the next 20 years looking a bit sorry for itself, hanging over the top of your jeans and wobbling when you giggle. ,
Now I know bodyslamming your face on a caravan hook in Great Yarmouth whilst on holiday wasn’t on your ‘to do’ list, but funnily enough the crooked, gappy, crooked, chipped toothy smile might actually be a good thing. Look!! Don’t shoot the messenger — I’m trying to be positive. Anyway, I’ve got jokes to write, presenting to do etc so will leave you to it. Keep your chin up.
P.S. By the way, your voice doesn’t break either.
16th July 2009
Dear 16 year old Patsy,
You adore music more than anything in the world, you have a great passion for rock and roll ….. but that doesn’t mean you have to marry the lead singer of every band you ever had a poster of, on your bedroom wall.
Your older you!