Saturday, 8 January 2011


The Dear Teenme Blog was set by a group of authors: some famous – some up-and-comers. They put it together because they care about every teenager in the world. 
If the people around you are older than you it's because they've been where you are now... and survived.
The letters are addressed to ourselves but the messages are pretty universal.

Dear Teen Me

There are things I'm not going to make you live through now... because living through it once is enough.  I lived it with you... I'm me because of you. We don't do too bad: I am here and writing this (read it... see what I mean... before you go into panic-mode.) WORDS OF ADVICE BEFORE THE WORD OF ADVICE: PRE-ADVICE - things look darkest when you are on your own. Hands up if you've noticed that 6,000,000,000 people live on planet Earth. You married one of them and you are related to about half; you are not alone. Talking to others makes you realise you are handling things better than you think - you'd never have known if you hadn't talked to others who were going through the same experiences too.

Worry about the specifics only when you need too, here's the bigger picture:

Being born fifth of eight was always going to make us learn to listen well or shout louder. WORD OF ADVICE 1: we went the wrong way first time; learning to shout a little earlier would have been OK too.

Excellent work! You will go to university and everything you thought was highly unlikely – just remember getting there is not the end of the journey. WORD OF ADVICE 2: Do not coast during the first year – enjoy it less; it will give you more time for the work. The guy who asks you to dance the last dance at the Freshers's Ball is the ultimate-keeper.

Love the day job as much as you like but spot when it expandes to fourteen hours-a-day six days-a-week. WORD OF ADVICE 3:  I know you think it’s what you want but don’t take on the extra responsibilities at work - there will be enough additional responsibilities to keep you busy elsewhere. Your greatest challenges will not be at work, neither will your greatest joys and heartaches.

Food – Vegetarianism means you need to eat vegetables. WORD OF ADVICE 4: Don’t go there unless you are prepared to embrace the thing properly. Meat is murder is not a definitive fact; it's an opinion. I have to say, looking back from here, I am awed by how unhealthy you managed to make this life-style choice.

Experimenting with your hair was a great idea!
Colour review: orange, pink and purple were all great (very blond I recommend less, and as for black… just don’t do it: it’s a harsh look to rock.)
Style review: I know mid-length with its untidy half-curl and a tendency towards the frizz is irritating but long hair was a pain and perming just made the neighbours’ poodles excited. I still say wearing it prep-boy-short was never going to be the answer. WORD OF ADVICE 5 – buy products and invest in straighteners (camp outside ARGOS and wait - after that there’s no looking back… and wishing it would settle down and look half-way-decent.)

Size? F**k it! WORD OF ADVICE 6 – eat: not for-no-reason is it called comfort food . ADVICE 6 ½:  you bought an exercise bike – use it; it takes less co-ordination than getting out to the gym anyway.

You looked forward to writing with the kids in school far more than was necessary; if you were looking for signs from the cosmos, why didn’t that one register? When you had to take time off work to look after Sonshine, was that too subtle? When it hurt to read did that not register as  significant when you’d devoured up to six books a week, for years? WORD OF ADVICE 7 - Read. Then take time – make time - as much as you need - and write.

Everything else? Keep doing what you’re doing: you make good choices.

PS Why do we still only ever sing at home? Sing! Enjoy the ability to hold a tune; just remember free–style harmonising is going to drift into dodgy places sometimes – just go for it; have fun.

And write.


  1. Damn, don't we all wish we could do that? Especially the "Write More," and "Don't even try to rock that look."

  2. That's a great letter - such wonderful advice!

    If only there was a time machine handy!

    BTW - have you considered surgery for detaching your left hand from your cheek? It does seem to have been stuck there since you were a teenager, and I worry.

    :Dom No Fear Blogfest

  3. Hi Will
    Yes. The balance is never set evenly. As for rocking the look - nothing takes away the fun of trying. I didn't think black would be much different from the normal dark brown - I was shocked. :)

    Hi Ivy
    Lots of my college friends did AV, photography and drama... there were no candid shots.

    Hi Dom
    Bless ;)
    I considered surgery to free my hand, because when I'm not actually typing at least one of my hands is holding up the weight of my head, but the doctor said he wasn't prepared to amputate a head. ;)

  4. Great advice! I would love to give my teen self a bucket load of confidence!

  5. I see, one of those old fashioned doctors then, who shy away from cutting edge medicine.

    There are some very good artificial head propping devices on the market or I gather partial lobotomies are very popular at the moment - if there are any bits of your brain you don't need right now?

  6. This makes me wonder what I'd say to the Teen Me. Probably a lot.

    That's a great photo.

  7. Hi Jemi
    Self-confidence is so shakey at that time. It seems like you have it but it is ice-brittle.

    Hi Dominic
    I hadn't thought of investing in new technology - if the old ways work why change? ;)

    Hi Medeia
    It's a challenge writing to your teen self. I wouldn't want her to make any different choices.