“Truth be told much of what is going to happen will surprise the pants off you. It will be way better than your wildest imaginings.” —Hugh Jackman
The book, Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self, edited by Joseph Galliano, is a collection of letters written by well-known personalities to younger versions of themselves.
J.K. Rowling, Hugh Jackman, Stephen King and Alan Rickman, to name a few. What would these people who achieved success creating work we admire write to themselves?
“It is that very foreigness, that outsiderness, that feeling of being “other” that is your power, and your mutability is the gift.” —Aasif Mandvi
I discovered all 75 letters boiled down to the same themes:
- Life will be a big surprise. Don’t think that what’s going on now will be all there is.
- The painful stuff prepares you for the good stuff.
- The scary stuff leads you to the good stuff, so don’t run away from something awesome because you’re afraid.
- Love yourself and be your authentic self. Being “other” is your power.
- Listen to your intuition.
- Love what you do.
- Relax. Look for balance in your life. Don’t worry so much. Chill sometimes.
- That person you were heartbroken about? Not worth it.
- Do not—ever—tolerate abuse.
- Partner well with friends, business partners, spouses.
- Have compassion for your mother, father, siblings. Cherish them. They aren’t as awful as you think, and they’re doing their best.
- Never stop learning and asking questions.
- Give generously and freely, and share your passions.
- Don’t worry about: zits, hair, scars, weight, clothing, sexual identity, noses or thighs or any other particular body part. Don’t let those things affect your self-esteem. You are beautiful and perfect.
- But do take care of your health and, for heaven’s sake, ease up on the alcohol and drugs. Cherish your physical abilities and your body.
- What you do at sixteen will be considered cute or sexy. If you do the same things as an adult, it won’t be considered cute or sexy anymore. In other words, embrace the passing of the years.
- You’ll make mistakes. Should you warn yourself to avoid them? Probably not.
- Believe in angels. (Okay, that was just Steve-O, but I liked it.)
If, in future years, anyone asks you to give advice to your sixteen year old self . . .
Make your own unique messes, and then work out your own way out of them.
I pondered how many of these themes I still could write to my adult self and how many of them require us to make the same mistakes or missteps over and over before we learn.
In the face of that, all we can do is try out best to follow the advice. Relax, do the scary stuff, learn from the hard stuff, love and listen to myself, be compassionate and welcome whatever surprising events pop up.
Maybe angels will help.
What would you write to your sixteen-year-old self? You can write and submit your own letter to http://www.dearme.org/.