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A letter to my 16-year-old-self

A letter to my 16-year-old-self

By Anna Trevelyan

Dear young, naive and slightly ridiculous me. You are only 16, so I will forgive you for not knowing much yet, but I thought I'd impart some wisdom that you will need to learn over the next few years.

You're now 31; you have learned a bit more about some stuff, and I'm sorry to say you're still slightly ridiculous. Here's some information which will save you a whole lot of time and hassle over the coming 15 years...

  • The sum of a person’s character = their good side minus their bad side. Even if they are very nice one minute, but can be a right meanie the next, walk away. Remember the overall balance: I’m sure even Jack the Ripper was a hoot at a dinner party. Don’t be fooled.

  • There are two types of people who will profoundly affect you: Diamonds and Dementors. Diamonds are the lovely ones: they are rare and they truly care. You’ll leave their company feeling happier, and they’ll always want the best for you. Dementors are the cold, selfish ones who can suck the life and soul out of a person. They bring you down, care only about themselves and will leave you feeling empty inside. Beware that Dementors can sometimes masquerade as Diamonds, so be sure to avoid them to leave your soul intact.

  • "Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them... Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

    - J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • If you do something for someone else, always do it with good grace. The only thing worse than a moaner is a self-proclaimed martyr.

  • Don’t worry too much about your appearance. You will change - physically of course - but more importantly you will change mentally. What matters to you one year will be trumped by something else the next. You can always dye your hair if you go grey, or lose weight if you like, but the time you waste putting your life on hold can never be brought back.

  • Just because a food/product is described as 'natural' does not make it healthy. Fancy a side of natural arsenic, lead or radiation with that ridiculously expensive organic yoghurt? Thought not.

  • Prioritise family and close friends. You’ll have limited time to spend with people in later life, so make the most of it now and don’t spread yourself too thinly by trying to be too many things to too many people. Life moves on and people change, so invest in the relationships that are worth it.

  • Don't bother with expensive skincare. You'll pay out a small fortune and still develop a monobrow-style frown line whilst still in your mid 20s. Consider it an imperfection where all your powers of assertiveness are stored - and stick to cheap, good old fashioned moisturiser (which, according to market research and consumer surveys, is really just the same thing).

  • Always take a plastic bag with you wherever you go. If someone needs to vom, something poos, or there is some sort of liquid explosion it will come in handy. Plus, they are worth five whole pence in the future, so stock up now and save money! (N.B. invest in Bag 4 Life bag shares whilst you're at it, and something called Facebook. It pays to be ahead of the times.)

  • Oh and stop freaking out about your spots. You'll still get them when you're 30. Get over it. Surveys show that nobody cares about all that stuff except you.

Lots of love, and I'll write again when we hit 50,

Early 30s me


What do you think? Have you learned any pearls of wisdom over the years? Join the discussion on Facebook and let us know what you might tell your younger self if you could!

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