These are YOUR Dear Teenage Me letters. Written by women from around the world, especially to empower teenage girls. They are offering their best advice, the things they wish they had known themselves at a younger age. Some of their stories will really ‘speak’ to you personally, and others may not, but we think you will find them all to be deeply moving and inspiring.
SEND YOUR ‘DEAR TEENAGE ME’ LETTERS :
Lili | Age 41 | Cape Town | Graphic Designer
Dear Teenage Me,
Try not to concentrate on finding love all the time! You are trying to find love because you didn’t feel you had it enough as a child and it’s going to hurt like hell when there is disaster after disaster in your love life.
You will find the perfect match one day, and just so you know – he won’t be what you expected! He came along once you started believing that he was out there, and stopped trying so desperately to find him. You had let go of how he had to look, what career he would have, and you just accepted that he would be right for you, loving and easy.
It will all work out for you – when it’s supposed to. Instead of spending so much time on your love interests, love yourself instead. Give all that you wanted to give to those boys to yourself. You are worth it. It will help you grow and thrive and it will help you be ready to be loved, fully.
Trust your brilliance. You have amazing ideas, and you can fulfill them. So trust yourself. Stop with all the self-doubt you have – it’s not yours. You were dealt that hand. But it is not worth holding on to. You can reprogramme your mind to believe in yourself again.
Don’t be scared to fail. Failing is the path to success. You will learn from mistakes. So learn to enjoy the failures, take risks, know that they are growth spurts. Rejoice in them, bring them on!
Love your body, you think you’re too fat, but really you are slim. You are womanly. You will put on weight when you’re older and wish that you had enjoyed your young body more. Do more work on loving your body. It will need to become a ritual. Exercise, eat well. Sleep. Accept this early on. It’s all it takes, and I know it seems hard, but it will help you loads with your mental health too.
Exercise btw looks different to you. You love to dance. So dance! Don’t think that the gym is the only way for everyone or that you are doing anything wrong by not going to the gym. Just dance in your pants if that is what brings you joy.
Experiment! There is no need to get it “right”. Just DO IT! And you will see what works for you over time.
Tracy | Age 59 | Sydney | General Manager
Dear Teenage Me,
I would like to give you three pieces of advice that can make a big contribution to your life and the lives of others. The earlier you act on my advice the better because they will save you a lot of anxiety, time, emotion & upset because believe it or not you don’t actually know everything, and there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes.
- It’s ok to talk about yourself & what’s going on in your life.
- Ask questions, don’t assume anything.
- It’s OK to trust people.
Amy | Age 34 | Bristol | Social Media Executive
Dear Teenage Me.
Things might be hard right now. You might have to help Mum with all the chores, and look after everyone, but it will get better. You might need to sacrifice going out with your mates, but that time will come. You are needed.
Mum needs you right now, she needs your help to keep the family together, the house in order, and get food on the table. All of the things you learn now will help you in the future. Sure, you’ll be a great cook, house-proud, even more organised…but more importantly, you will become best friends with Mum.
You’ll speak to her every day. She confides in you, you confide in her. You laugh together. You support each other. Yeah sure, your teenage days were hard, but that experience has made your relationship with Mum stronger than ever, and you’ll appreciate that in the future.
Keep your chin up girl, things do get better, trust me!
Lots of love, your 34 year old self. xxx
Anonymous | UK |
Dear Teenage me,
I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you through the toughest time in your life, but remember it made me who I am today. You feel alone, ugly, fat and confused, but you are needed. Other people may tell you what you are, or even what you are not, but you are you and worth a lot to this world – so please keep going and learn that other people’s negativity are not a reflection on you.
The boys that called you fat and ugly are mean, I know. This will not go away through life. They don’t know how the words they shouted in science classes or in the street when they saw you outside of school hurt you. They don’t see the cuts on your arms, or the binging at night. No one did, I wish I was there to support you.
The boys in years above who cornered you in hallways and groped you, grabbed you, as you always had bigger boobs. And you hid under big baggy clothes because no one was there to teach you to understand and accept your body. Tired of wolf whistles, comments from family members, you just wanted to hide. I honestly don’t know what to say, no one could stop this, because no one was there for you. I wish I was there to teach you that this isn’t your fault.
I am sorry that you didn’t have someone who noticed you in a positive way, but just told you what you needed to change.
Make your own decisions and be strong in those, don’t let anyone tell you different. You are you. It’s going to take a long time to get over the things your peers and family have said to you, but honestly, this will be something that will happen through life, no matter what age. The only thing that needs to change is believing in yourself.
When you hit your 36th birthday, you will realise you don’t need anyone to tell you that you are amazing. That you are enough. That you need to look after yourself not hurt yourself. Everyone has their own opinion, you will be sexualised, called too ‘tomboy-ish’ or too fat. It still hurts today when people tell you that, but you don’t need them. Just like you don’t need those mean people through life.
Please don’t punish yourself for other people’s negativity. Look after yourself. Love yourself.
Carly | Age 39 | London | Brand Strategist
Dear Teenage Me,
You feel so completely alone, unloved and it’s like no one really understands you, right? Life doesn’t seem worth living, it really IS that hard right now, but somehow you keep on.
You overcome this, and the experiences you have been through in life will amount to something so great and you will make a difference to many others.
You have been unlucky. Your parents have said and done some hurtful things. You weren’t loved the way a child should be. There will be some deep psychological wounds inflicted over the years. But you are not a victim. And the sooner you decide to stop feeling like one, then the sooner you can be your full unleashed self.
Learn resilience. Don’t let what people say to you break your spirit. People do say stupid, critical things, sometimes they are not grown enough themselves, sometimes they are mean and sometimes they are just trying to give you a kick up the bum because they think that will work for you. Maybe they are frustrated with you, maybe their heart is actually in the right place. But don’t let it get to you, don’t take it to heart. Learn to take feedback – it’s not all criticism. Those that really criticize you – feel pity for them. Listen to your true voice within, trust your own opinions first, then seek counsel, but only as an addition to your own thoughts, to give you insight and help you uncover what you do not know or can’t yet see. Take what empowers you, and leave aside what doesn’t.
Have faith in your unique powers. You are so powerful and you CAN do anything. You will harness that power one day. Don’t spend your life trying to prove your parents and critics right, out of anger for what they did or said. You will have to repair that damage through self-work, but that is what brings you such amazing awareness, compassion and an ability to love so deeply.
You only have this one precious life. Live it for you, with integrity, with honour – but for no one else. No one else gets to say who you truly are. What they think of you is not important. It will seem so when you are young, but as you get older you WILL care less. Try hard to care less now.
You have totally got this. Trust in the process.
You will have to go through stuff. And you will have a great life. You will be loved by someone who really gets you and stands by you, and that also holds you accountable. You will have an amazing family, of your own creation.
Try to enjoy your youth. Don’t keep trying to get somewhere else. Enjoy the experiences you have whilst you are in them, enjoy the people around you, and celebrate your successes! You will do amazing things, but you’re so busy trying to get somewhere that you don’t think these experiences are good enough, and so you don’t immerse yourself in them and free yourself up to actually enjoy them. So enjoy them and be PRESENT! Stop judging everyone and everything. Let them be, exactly as they are, and enjoy the moment. However it is, or is not.
Make a list of goals (they can change as you grow), but tick off what you achieve and celebrate these achievements, no matter how small. This will help keep you on track.
Find self-development work early on. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. You are not born with am instruction manual and you will need to learn, develop and grow. So learn something new every day. Read and learn about things you are not yet interested in, because you may discover new things, and you will be more worldly-wise because of it.
Love from your 39 year old self.
Reba | Age 29 | Cardiff | DJ & Fitness Instructor
Dear Teenage Me,
You’ve had it pretty rough haven’t you sweetheart?! You’ve just turned 15 and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster.
You’ve seen things no little girl should see, you’ve experience a lot of hate, violence and loss and it’s really not fair is it?!
I know you’re still finding it hard to process. How could someone be so nasty when all you did was love them. He was meant to step in a take the role of ‘dad’ after mum and dad spilt up. At first we was lovely and funny and you adored him but then the destruction he caused has brought you so much pain and confusion, and that’s lead you to struggle to trust and love how you once did. He wasn’t your dad, but you were so little you thought of him like one. So when his behaviour switched and became violent it was hard to understand why you cared about him and that lead you to become very confused, lonely, lost and vulnerable.
When you thought it was over 5 years on, Dad then got cancer when you were 9 and that was another thing you didn’t really understand. And nobody blames you, you were still a baby. Then when he lost his battle with Cancer when you were 11, you also gave up. And I know the last 4 years have been hard and you’ve been lost. The sadness and hate has destroyed your self worth and confidence and you’ve given up all of your favourite things like singing and dancing because you don’t see the point and the world sucks!!! I get it! You’re still battling with all the memories and flash backs and it’s easy to grab a bottle and drown it all away but believe me that’s not going to help. Its just going to get you into more trouble and confuse everything even more.
Don’t listen to the other girls who call you names. The ones who take advantage of your kind nature. The ones who see your vulnerable and abuse it. Yes they beat on you, yes they torment you and verbally attack you in the street and I know you feel like you’ve got no one to protect you but you are stronger than you think.
I know all you want is to feel loved, protected and cared for. You want to feel pretty and valued. You want a ‘normal’ life like the other kids. BUT normal isn’t for you baby cakes. I wish I could show you how all of the pain and destruction will shape you into the woman I am today. You will be kind, caring, funny, sensitive, ambitious, experienced and one tough cookie. You will be valued by lots of amazing people and you will have strong relationships full of love and empathy.
You can’t see what you’re able to become now, because you’ve been suffocated with sadness for many years and it’s had its toll on your kind, cheeky little soul. AND that’s OK, it’s okay to not be okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
I want you to know there is a light and you will hold it high and bright. AND you will share that light with so many people because you WILL NOT be defined by your traumas or past.
He can’t hurt your mum anymore, you don’t have to hide. You now have an overwhelming sense of protection for your loved ones because of him and you will hold on to that and run with it to turn such a negative experience into a positive.
DON’T let him devalue your self worth
DON’T let him destroy your trust
DON’T let him define your future relationships
…your revenge will be your success, the love you reflect on others and the mark you make on the people who come into your path; your revenge will be inner PEACE and acceptance.
You will always miss dad and find it hard to understand why he wasn’t there to protect you when you needed him the most but you need to stop blaming him and grieve properly- it wasn’t his fault. You will be everything you want to be. Yes you will have to work hard for it and it won’t be easy but I promise you it will all be worth it in the end. Keep pushing baby girl. Your light has been dimmed but you will learn how to shine bright again
I know you don’t see it now BUT you are amazing and I really do love you!
Lots of love, the 29-year-old you
Alina | Age 36 |Sydney | Midwifery Student/Yoga Instructor/Former IT Business Analyst
Dear Teenage Me,
Yes, it does really suck you lost your mum when you were 11. You are angry, you are frustrated and you feel life is unfair. You will get through this when you are much older and will have your own kids. It’s ok, there is no rush. Things are the way they are. Don’t blame your dad for being absent and turning to alcohol too often – he is dealing with his stuff the way he can and there is not much he can do about this at the moment. Don’t blame him he passed away just 5 years after your mother…
Don’t worry about being too short or too fat. Too this or too that at the moment. You will see how beautiful you are a bit later. You will see how strong and how smart you are! You will change cities, countries, you meet amazing people and some of them will become your friends. You get married to a wonderful man who will be there for you no matter what. And you will become a mother and will learn that mother’s love doesn’t have limits. And you will understand where you came from a bit better. It is all the part of the game. Trust yourself and move forward!
You are loved! You are worthy! Your life belongs to you!
And remember – when life gets hard – ask for help! You will be amazed how many people will be glad to give you a hand!
Debra | Brisbane + Paris | Author, Inventor, Cosmetic Chemist and Lecturer |
Dear Teenage Me,
Relax, you will get the boy, but not until your mid thirties – so go have fun!
Your parents are never, and I mean NEVER going to understand you, so build a bridge and get over it, because the sooner you do, the more amazing your life becomes.
You don’t fit into a box, so shine like the multi-faceted diamond you are.
You are Dyslexic – not dumb! But you won’t know that until you’re 25yrs old.
Tiya | Sydney | Life Coach & Model
Dear Teenage Me,
If I could meet you right now, this is the advice I would give you.
Firstly, think carefully before you make big decisions. There is no time machine which lets you go back and change your mind, and the consequences of your decisions often don’t just impact you, but the ones around you as well. So choose wisely.
Secondly, don’t let anyone or anything tame your spirit. Stay fierce, stay independent, stay YOU. Don’t become a watered down version of yourself to please others.
Thirdly, be kind to everyone. You don’t know what struggles they are going through and what battles they are fighting. So be compassionate and don’t judge anyone.
Last but not the least, follow your heart but don’t leave your brain behind as well.
Liv | Age 27 | London | Creative Producer
Dear Teenage Me,
Value knowledge and learning more. Read more books, books are actually really cool.
Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and share your opinions, you’re much smarter than you think you are, and your opinions are just as valid as Quentin or John’s opinions.
Match your partying with working and networking – It will make your late twenties much easier. Still party though, partying is important. You’re going to have the most incredible friends and support network, so stop panicking that you’re going to be alone or unliked.
Stick to your instincts with style – you will never stop wearing gold hoops and Reeboks so don’t waste your money trying to experiment in-between. Absolutely no one will care about the size of your boobs or labia. Although it’s been tough sometimes, you will be stronger and more respected for it.
Being tall won’t always be a burden. People will actually be jealous of it and one day you’ll have a boyfriend that’s 6,5 and doesn’t have to stand on chairs to kiss you.
You’ll never be good at Maths and you’ll always be clumsy, but that’s OK.
Hazel |68 | Somerset | Retired Business Owner
Dear Teenage Me,
You are going to live through some exciting times during your teenage years, clothes will become designed especially for your age group, and the music is amazing.
As a 13 year old you will have many opportunities, in the coming years, many decisions to make, some of them will seem quite daunting.
My advice to you is “be brave, try to stand up for what you believe in and be true to yourself, try not to slavishly follow your friend’s behaviour if you feel it is not right for you. Without being too judgemental of them too. Choose your school subjects because it is what you want to do, don’t be dissuaded by others if you truly believe it to be right for you,. When it comes to careers advisers stick to your guns. if exams don’t go exactly to plan, don’t worry it is not the end of the world, you can always try again or change direction. Try not take on other’s problems too much, or worry about things you can’t control. Be prepared to work hard for what you want, but enjoy life too, be kind to others and yourself.
Have a wonderful life,
SEND YOUR ‘DEAR TEENAGE ME’ LETTERS TO : email@example.com or use hashtag #dearteenageme