Discovery: Letter to my Teenage Self

Subtitle: Outstanding Australians share the advice they wish they’d been given growing up. (2016)

This book was pulled together (i.e. edited and published) by Grace Halpen when she was 15 and in year 10 at a school in Melbourne. Having written her own ‘Letter to my Teenage Self’, she was then inspired to gather letters from well-known adult Australians in various fields of experience.

Writers include sportspeople, performers, writers, politicians, researchers, entrepreneurs and more.

Adam Gilchrist advises his younger self to learn a musical instrument; Josh Frydenberg sends the  message that persistence pays off; Layne Beachley warns against comparing yourself to others – “Always believe you are deserving of love and you are enough, just the way you are.”

Many of the contributors point out that we all make mistakes – but this is how we learn. Respect for others is also a common theme. Recognising the support you can get from parents and friends, who have your best interest at heart, is not always obvious to teenagers – another common idea expressed by many.

Some try to help their younger self understand and get through bullying episodes – reflecting back and now being able to raise their heads triumphantly in a successful career – and wondering how their bully fared in life. (e.g. Missy Higgins, Judith Lucy). Others suggest that teens not take themselves too seriously (“Guess what? No one is watching your every move” – James O’Loghlin), and “try to be a little less arrogant” (Sir Gustav Nossal).

As well as these sentiments, there is a lot of encouragement to ‘be yourself and be courageous in following your dreams’. This is in spite of the angst many remember – angst about fitting in, body changes and all that is involved in the journey through the teenage years.

Discovering who you are in the teenage years is a challenging time. Many of these letters will speak to the heart of both teenagers and adults alike. Thank you to Grace and her willing mentors – this is a fantastic collection well worth dipping into.

Read about Grace’s editorial journey here.

Other contributors include Guy Sebastian, Peter Alexander, Jackie French, Dannii Minogue, Shaun Tan, Stephanie Rice, Maggie Beer and many more. (I only wish there was an index or table of contents which listed the letters of the 53 prominent Australians!)

# The edition I read was a Dyslexia Friendly book – obtained from Blue Mountains Council Library. These books have a special font and layout to help alleviate some of the issues experienced by readers with dyslexia.

## It is also available as an ebook from various sources.

### Another bonus from this book, is the fact that all profits from the sale of the book go to the Reach Foundation, which works to “inspire young people to believe in themselves and get the most out of life.”

What would you like to tell your younger self?