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Published September 15th 2016
Inspiration and reassurance for teenagers
If you could go back in time and share some advice and wisdom with your teenage self, what would you say? What do you wish you had known as a teenager that would have made it easier to cope with the struggles of adolescence?
This is exactly the question asked by Grace Halpern, a Victorian high school student in a book she has edited titled Letter to my Teenage Self. The book began as a school project and has now been published.
This book seeks to provide advice to help teenagers navigate the bumpy course of adolescence. As we all know the teenage years are often filled with anxiety, self-doubt and insecurities, feeling different or alone and like you don't fit in. What we don't realise at that age is that we're not the only ones feeling this way.
The book is a collection of 53 letters from well known Australians to their teenage self. The contributors come from a variety of arenas and backgrounds such as sportspeople, scientists, musicians, politicians, actors, dancers, chefs, lawyers, authors and more.
It includes inspirational letters from people like cricketer Adam Gilchrist who asks his teenage self "Is your attitude worth catching" as well as encouraging himself to take music lessons. There are letters that may surprise you such as one from actress and author Sophie Lee who as a teenager had to worry about hiding the name tags sewn in to her socks, being unpopular and the school bus bully. While radio and TV presenter Jo Stanley pines for a 1980's bubble skirt and her idol Simon Le Bon.
There are also poignant letters like the one from actress and dancer Kelley Abbey, who felt like an outsider at her high school and endured verbal and physical abuse as she juggled her dance commitments with her school work. There are also heartbreaking letters like that of playwright, scriptwriter and musician Richard Frankland.
It is interesting and reassuring to see that despite the diversity of authors there are common themes in many of the letters such as don't compare yourself to others, be yourself, be kind, don't worry so much, dream big and those reassuring words that we all need to hear "everything will turn out ok".
Contributors include Guy Sebastian, Dannii Minogue, Missy Higgins, Chet Faker, Sophie Lee, Adam Gilchrist, Chris Judd, Nathan Buckley, Stephanie Rice and Layne Beachley to name just a few.
For me this book is a wonderful idea as it is inspirational to hear from so many well known Australians, who have gone on to such successful and diverse careers, that they were unsure of themselves as a 13 year old and felt like they didn't fit in or were bullied. It is reassuring to know that they got through their hard times and everything turned out OK. It is hoped that the book will be of assistance to teenagers going through similar experiences and I would definitely encourage any teenager to read this book.
All profits from the sale of this book go to the REACH Foundation, which aims to improve the wellbeing of young people so they can be healthy and resilient to meet life's challenges and fulfil their potential.