Friday, April 30, 2010

Past Tense

My sister sent me a book for my birthday. It’s called “Letter to my 16 Year Old Self”. In it, a whole bunch of famous people like Yoko Ono, Will Young and Annie Lennox write a letter to, well, their 16 year old self telling them they should expect from their future and how they should deal with growing up. It’s easily one of the best books around: Incredibly moving in some bits, deeply funny in others, and always thought provoking.

In her birthday card, my sister wrote that she would tell her 16 year old self that “diets are stupid and stay away from Marie Chen, cause she’s going to steal your boyfriend, that self serving little cow”. And she wrote in her postscript that she would also tell her younger self to hug her brother Jason more because “he’s always going to be there for you”.

When Saffy read the card, she burst into tears.

“That’s such a lovely thing to…to…sniff…to say! I wish someone would say that about me!” she snuffled into a tissue.

Which, of course, got us all thinking. If we had a chance, what would each of us say to our 16 year old self? For days, we thought about it, and then one Sunday evening, we sat down at the dining table with pen and paper, and this is what we wrote:

Amanda’s letter to her 16 year old self:
“Dear Princess, you’re probably not going to believe this, but you know how you’ve got this dream of becoming a supermodel like Naomi Campbell? Well, you’re going to end up a lawyer. Sorry to break it to you like this, but the good news is, you’ll be earning a tonne of money and you’ll be wearing all those expensive runway clothes you read about in Vogue. Oh, and you should snap up shoes by Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo. And as soon as you can afford it, I want you to buy shares in Apple. That company is going to get really huge! But don’t buy the first iPod or iPhone or iPad. Wait till the third generation. You’re also going to meet a guy who looks like a cockroach. DO NOT give him your number! Seriously. He’s bad news. It’s OK to be single. Really. Love you lots, A”

Jason’s letter to his 16 year old self:
“Dear Me, This will come as a bit of a shock, but you’re going to hate being a lawyer. A law firm looks nothing like what you see on TV. You’ll be drafting stupid documents that no one will ever read and making your bosses very rich. The people you will be working with will be fat and ugly, and they’ll also be screaming at you a lot. The money isn’t going to be worth the hassle. The good news is you’ll switch career mid-way and you’ll be a lot happier. Poorer, but happier. Your parents are wrong: you can actually be happy when you’re poor. But you need to sit down once in a while and have a chat with your mother. Not just because she might leave you a lot of money, but because, sometimes, she gets lonely (you, Michelle and Jack are all going to leave home…I know, what a shocker!). Stay strong. Me”

Saffy’s letter to her 16 year old self:
“Dearest Saff, I have so much to tell you! But first things first. Stop crying about your flat chest. Next year, around June, you will wake up and be shocked when you look down! Trust me. Next, you shouldn’t be so mean to that pimply kid who sits next to you in drama class. After high school, he’s going to go to Hollywood and be a star! His skin will clear up, he’ll go to the gym and he’s going to be super hot! So you need to be his best friend. I also wouldn’t bother too much with physics. You’re never going to be a scientist. And you’re also going to meet this incredibly gorgeous guy called James. He’s going to break your heart. (He’s going to cheat on you with Mary-Louise Tan, that stinker.) And it’s going to really hurt. You’ll think the world is going to come to an end. But it won’t. So, you should cry over him for about a week MAX and then just get over it. Oh, and James Cameron is going to make a movie about the Titanic. Put all your money and savings with the bookies and bet that it’s going to win 11 Oscars. XOXO. S”


lysythe said...


No, seriously.

Sixteen was* still too close for me... I'll have to remember this when I'm past 25.

*should be 'is', but it sounds like I'm not yet 16.

Anonymous said...

this is like, so sentimental. makes you want to.. take a deep breath.

Dee said...

this inspired me and my friends to make our own letters to our 16 year old selves. thanks for sharing! :D

Razlan said...

Jason, you got me writing one too.

Jason Hahn said...

Tell more people about this. doesn't matter if it's maudlin or sentimental.

Melon said...

I loved this article so much! Yes, it also aspired me to write a letter to myself. And you know what? Probably it's because of this that 'Dear Me' is sold out at the book stores. Damn!