Dear 16-year old mentalexotica,

Look at what I chanced upon today: Dear Me: a Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self

If you had a chance to write to your 16-year old self, what would you say? In this book, some of the world’s most well-known and most-beloved personalities do just that. I read a few of these missives-to-self, and I was charmed especially by Emma Thompson’s letter. I may be biased; I love Emma, always have. But she makes it so easy. Have a look:

The transcript:

May 29th 2009

Dear Em (16)

I realise that you are young and in love and that nothing much that anyone old says seems relevant, but seeing as it’s me — that is, you; that is, us, I think it’s worth a go. 

Two Top Tips from 50 to 16:

1) Don’t EVER EVER EVER bother to go on a diet. I know you’re obsessed and have that awful thing of standing in the 6th form canteen trying to choose between a yoghourt & a breathe of fresh air (whilst wanting chips & a cheese salad). Don’t sweat it. Eat regularly, try & avoid rubbish and never diet. You’ll end up the same size anyway, so drop it girl, & drop it NOW. Believe me — nobody cares. Diets are the best way of confusing your metabolism for the rest of your life. Just be you & get on with it, I cannot tell you how much time & energy you’ll save & how much happier you’ll be. 

2) When he says he doesn’t love you, believe him. He doesn’t.

That’s it. All the other mistakes you make are worth their weight in gold. 

I love you — Em (50)

Then there was also Elton John’s letter to take note of. The last line is a sureshot smile-maker:

The transcript:

March 8th 2009.

Atlanta,

Dear Reg,

You are a very young 16. you know nothing about sex — you don’t even know what a “queer” is. Trust me when I tell you — you are “queer”; you are a gay boy. I made the mistake of not having sex until I was 23! I loved being with another man and felt relieved that I finally knew who I was. I made the mistake of falling in love too soon because I was naive and romantic. My advice to you is never to chase love — it will find you when you least expect it. Have FUN, have lots of safe sex and enjoy your sexuality. Be proud of who you are and, as you get older and wiser fight for gay rights — I’m 46 years older than you are, and we have a long way to go. In certain countries we are still not treated as equals, especially by the so-called “Christian” Church. I made a lot of mistakes. Stay away from drugs — they’re a waste of time. Stand up for every human being’s rights. Be loving, kind and strong. Set an example. You’re going to have a hell of a life!!

Love you

Elton x

PS. CHANGE YOUR NAME

So, of course I think this is just a terribly cute idea. And of course I now want to write mine. Before I do, I’d like to ask you to write your letters and share them here with me. If that’s okay, of course. For now, here’s mine:

Dear M,

It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of your life. It’s not even the end.

I know it seems as though everything keeps changing and that it hurts beyond belief. The thing is, it’s about the most predictable thing about life there is. I won’t promise it gets better, but you will get better at dealing with it and taking it all in your stride. You will. From where I am now, you’ve aced it already. Well, nearly. 

You’re not ugly. Your parents should know better than to keep telling you that you are, but they just don’t. In time, that will be okay too. You will learn to forgive them. Seems impossible now, stupid even. But you don’t have the heart to be any other way. I’m proud of this.

Don’t forget to forgive yourself, and love yourself. Set an alarm, if it helps, or get a tattoo. But don’t forget. I can’t stress on this enough.

You will fall in love more times than you can count, and have your heart broken so often you will think life has no meaning but death. The fact is, there is someone meant only for you. I can tell you this for certain from where I am today, and although I can’t say who, I will say that when you see that someone, you will know it immediately.

Slowly learn to stop running after love. Don’t try to make love stay. You don’t need to cling to everything you cherish. Deep inside, you know this already. Imagine what would happen if you just let it all go. It’s a lot like holding onto balloons. One moment you’re clutching at strings, and the next you’re staring up at the sky and watching magic happen.

Know, that I will always be somewhere waiting for you with love, twenty years down the line.

Yours,

M. + 20


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63 thoughts on “Dear 16-year old mentalexotica,

  1. Dear Werner,

    Life seems fuckall and everyone seems cooler than you are !
    Suffice it to say, you’ll have the last laugh.

    Enjoy,
    Werner

    P.S. Your names are awesome too, your history teacher is just dealing with his own insecurities of having a really sexy wife.

  2. Dear 16 year old Kaz,

    You really are the best person I know who is 16, trust me when I say it. Five years down the line, I haven’t met any other sixteen-year better than you.

    You’re doing just fine. All the mistakes you did and will be doing will shape you into being a fine person. Do not worry.

    All you need is reassurance. So here’s some:

    Lots of awesomesauce filled kickasspizza awaits you after sixteen, boy.

    ~Kaz at 21.

    P.S. Disregard what everyone says (yes, even you) – keep playing those video games. You know you love them.

  3. Dear M,

    Be careful of what you wish for because if you lose your mind wishing upon it night and day, it will come true in all probability. And too bad then if you realise it wasn’t worth it or it isn’t a big deal.
    Do not hurt the people who love you as it will trouble you inside and riddle you with guilt, guilt that hurts, guilt that cries. Every night.Night after night.
    Have faith in the almighty above, he loves you and he will make it ok, all you have to do is believe.

    Unconditional love,
    M

  4. Dear Urmi,

    Continue to chase beauty, as you do now. It is a worthy occupation.
    Do not believe that boy, who stands at the corner waiting to catch just a glimpse of you everyday, when he tells you he loves you. He only lusts.
    Believe in your dream, even if there are no assurances just yet. You will find your way. You are quite the determined one, although you may not know it yet.
    Marriage and kids are HARD work. Think twice. Regrets, even momentary ones, aren’t nice things.

    1. Urmi, regrets are nothing more than your soul reminding you of the possibility of another way.

  5. Dear P at 16,

    Stop looking for forgiveness, stop looking for supposed justice, stop looking to make the past right. It’s not your job, but it will make you forget what you were here for. Don’t forget what you’re here for. Oh, and write. And tell him you love him as soon as you know.

    Also, I forgive you.


    P at 26.

    1. I forgive you too. For everything you have done and all you haven’t, and that which you ultimately will. I love you regardless.

  6. Dear Pea-brained-You,
    you’re not too sweet to be true. you’re ugly. you’re not too tall. you’re not fat. youre not too dark. you are all those things in moderation, and god you’re hot. try studying a little harder, it won’t hurt you. gadgets will be outdated before you know it, so don’t try trying to get one out of your dad so soon. no point asking him for a car either. you’re gonna hate driving in downtown bombay – the traffic is killing. and the trains aren’t bad. and they’re cheap too.

    when your friends text you randomly, Rockstar you!, save those. they’ll come n handy on yuck nights away from home. and yes, you will get out of home. heck, you’ll go places. trust me at +10.

    enjoy being the youngest at home, someone will take away that prized position sooner than you know it.

    love yourself. will yourself to be cheerful. those are the only two things that get people to forgive you. not your cleavage, not your work, not your being there for them in hard times. really. trust me.

    read.

    and don’t worry about being cruel so far as honesty is concerned. at least no one will get the wrong idea. 🙂

    you are the coolest scatter brain i know.

    PeaYou

  7. Dear P,
    It may not seem so right now but you’re actually doing what most grown ups are afraid of – dreaming those dreams and following up on them…even if they seem at odds with what convention may suggest. I’m not going to lie to you – those dreams are going to get you into trouble, but don’t worry, you’re going to enjoy that too.
    Try not to punish your body for not conforming either. You will learn that it possesses powers beyond your wildest imagination (others will learn this too and that will be a LOT of fun :D)
    Don’t be afraid of love. Or money. There’s no glory in being a tragedy queen and being poor doesn’t make you a genius.

    Love
    P

  8. Drear C,

    You are not the only one who feels sad of not having a mom and not being able to spend time with family. There are others who are less fortunate than you are. You think its awkward to tell your dad and brother how much you love them. In reality, you may regret of not telling your brother how much you will miss him when you become 23. Fuck you and your inhibitions. Get the fuck out and hug him like he does. Buy cd’s for him. Buy some good posters which he adores. Also, your dad does more than what your mom can do being around. Man the fuck up and thank him. Its your dad and its okay to hug him tightly and tell him how much he along with your brother mean to you.

    Also, quit being a puter nerd and enough of C and your leet coding skills. Get the fuck out. Every kid goes through these awkward social interactions.

    P.S: Be ready to get fucked in the name of love.

  9. Dear Deathkitty,

    I’m not going to lie to you. Life is NOT going to be easy for you. But don’t be a pussy, ok. You can handle it. You will be surprised about how
    much shit you can handle and you’ll come out tougher and with a bigger heart. So just deal with it.

    20 basic tips to surviving being you:

    1) Don’t take yourself too seriously. Really. Just lighten up a bit. Life is about sillyness. fun. Chillll…please…chillll….
    2) Avoid that cynical phase about love. Life is only about loving. Friends are everything. Don’t let your heart ever grow shy. Love hard.
    3) Recognize your rage. Its really useful. It can also cause a lot of damage. Channel it into artwork and sports.
    4) Express things because it feels good to. Some people will get it. Others wont. It doesn’t matter. It just feels good to express.
    5) Develop patience. Lots of it. Patience with yourself. Patience with other people.
    6) Yeah…the acting thing…nope you’re not going to be an actress. Just have fun acting. Don’t push yourself so hard. chilll…
    7) stop reading all that psychoanalysis and psychology…you are just as insane as everyone else…and that’s awesome…so burn those books…now
    8) About friends…some of them will be damaged…and may damage you…love them…but never put yourself in danger…you’re not invincible.
    9) Do not let anyone make you feel guilty. Guilt is a useless emotion. If you have done wrong…fix it. But fuck guilt. It is an illusion.
    10)Develop clear boundaries. Never allow anyone to push you into life choices that you aren’t ready for. Stand your ground. You know best.
    11)You will never be good at math. Just learn enough to get a pass mark in class. Whatever.
    12)Take vitamins. Really. They work.
    13)Start saving so you can buy an Enfield. Seriously. Buy it as soon as possible. It will make Delhi a MUCH richer experience for you.
    14)Get that nose ring whenever the hell you want to. No. You will not regret it like your mother says.
    15)Oh and you know what it is entirely appropriate to go and punch a guy when he acts like an asshole. Violence is actually very effective with douche bags.
    16)Learn the guitar. I never did. Wish I had.
    17)yeah the weird dreams…they are gonna stick around. Enjoy them. Don’t bother interpreting. Its just a late night movie.
    18)The older generation WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO ACTUALLY COMMUNICATE. Just dress conservatively for em. Smile. Be a nice girl. That is all.
    19)Keep an open mind. People can surprise you if you let them.
    20)Don’t make plans. Life is an adventure. You will live many lives. Enjoy them all.

  10. Dear T
    People will eventually stop calling you that.
    You won’t always be fat. But there will always be people who keep telling you, you are. Ignore them.
    But start exercising. You’ll feel better.
    You will kiss a boy. No, it won’t be M; and that’s okay. It will be wonderful. It will be on an overhanging rock on top of a ruined fort with the sun setting ahead and the waves singing below. Just like in one of those romance novels you refuse to read. You’re too young to have a prejudice like that, btw, but I still love you for it.
    Those things you don’t quite like about yourself because other people think they make you weird? Those are the very things a lot of people will end up adoring about you. So keep being a geek and a bugophile and a horror nut and refusing to even try drugs.
    Please find a more courageous way to break up with I. The way you do it isn’t cool.
    You will eventually figure out who you are. Sort of. You will eventually be happy with who you are. Sort of.
    Your poetry isn’t as great as you think. But it will get better. Tip: It doesn’t have to rhyme.
    Seven years from now, don’t have that stupid fight with your brother. No, wait. Have it. But know it isn’t worth not speaking to him for two years when you’re living in the same damn house.
    Be braver. But look who’s talking.
    Cheers,
    L

  11. Dear 16 yr old N,

    You are sick right now. Everyone acts different. No one will tell you this but you have cancer. Also, you will never run again.
    But you are brilliant and smarter now.

    It is not puppy fat. Try not to eat much. You still look the same. Your voice doesn’t break either.
    The future does not have jetpacks. But it is good.

    Friends are okay, I guess. No one will ever get your jokes. But you can always laugh.
    Keep talking, do not say much.

    You won’t be good at kissing but you are an excellent liar. The battle with acne still goes on.
    Remember, Soylent Green is people.

    PS. The internet is coming soon, my precious.

  12. (Thanks for the rewrite)

    Dear N (16),

    Remember your first love, when it happens. It’s going to be one hell of a ride for your emotions that eventually just leads you back to the start.
    You will die over and over, once due to heartbreak and others due to various reasons you will need to be ashamed of.
    Never ever be ashamed of being ashamed of your self. Guilt is the biggest kick in the ass you will ever need.
    Things come back in cycles of 9 years, not ten.
    Remember that life’s going to hurt, and you will have to face up to the shit decisions you make. Face up to them like the man you want to be.
    Temper check. Hold your tongue.
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, NOT the beerholder. Trust me. Not even in your hobbies or recreational drugs.
    Don’t ever learn from mistakes unless you feel like you need to. Things will work out anyway. A little slower though.
    Don’t ever stay in one place at a time, keep moving or doing something. Things that need to catch up with you, will. Do not dwell.
    Wait sometimes, though. Some things are worth the wait and the weight.
    You might have to back off on the love. You will love with your life, also feel. People will be overwhelmed, even threatened.
    Don’t ever ignore what’s happening or let sleeping dogs lie. Let them out occasionally.
    If you ever take a day off, don’t sleep all day. Do something productive.
    Good food is a myth. You’ll be happy starving or binging as time passes on.
    Work. Keep working at it, and get better. Even writing.
    You don’t own a cellphone yet, but remember it’s made for a purpose and that is to keep in touch.
    You will meet wonderful people. Surround yourself with such creations. They will be your strength even when not there.
    Everything else can be settled with your voice, a song and music. You might need to improve though.
    You’ll be a doctor, Don’t worry. A good one at that.
    Farewell, and catch up already.
    Luv,
    N (27)

    P.S. You will get a tattoo, break a heart and get laid, don’t worry, okay? Relax.

  13. Dear Me at 16,

    Learn to distinguish between trusting people because they’re trustworthy, and trusting people because you think you have to.
    Tell yourself each day that his words mean nothing. Never take them to heart, because they’re all lies.
    One day, she is going to need you more than ever. Forgive her.
    Screw the sciences. Please go on to study something you’re more passionate about.
    Hurting yourself does nothing to help you.
    Neither does bottling everything up.
    Don’t stop singing just because of his words. You’ll end up regretting not taking your music seriously.
    Soon, you’ll know what it feels like to be loved. It’s pretty good.
    Don’t burn the book you just started writing.

    It’s worth fighting through the crap…some things do get better.

    Forgive yourself.

    Love,
    Me at 22

    PS. – You’ll soon find that some people really do like your nose as it is. Take that money you just started saving for a nose job, and go buy some nice shoes before someone steals the cash.

  14. Dear FF.

    I know what I tell you now, you won’t really listen to. You’ll live and learn and grow into your life. I mean really, who would ever listen to an elderly 30+ at 16?

    But then, when has a 30+ not had a thing or two to say to a 16 year old? So just consider this..

    – Have faith in yourself. Its hard I know ‘coz its not exactly a friendly world out there. But try to keep the faith. You are incredibly strong and resilient by yourself. And you do not need anyone’s affirmation but your own
    – Challenge and question everything – without fear, without hesitation, You only stand to learn
    – Your first few loves will seem pretty ridiculous and retarded by the time you are my age (easy for me to say, but trust me) . Do not waste yourself on assholes who are trying to sort themselves out while screwing you twice over.
    -There is beauty, rest, peace, calm in real love… and compassion too . You will find it you lucky girl! You will heal -your soul, your body. People who love you will make you whole.
    -Explore the dark places you recede to often, but don’t let them engulf you. These crazy thoughts in your head, the depression and wounds will suture themselves with time.
    -Indulge not in pain and sadness only, but also in music, art and friends.
    -Plan what you want to do tomorrow, today. Each day. Take it from there and you’ll see me soon enough.

    Above all, enjoy these precious years. You will recall them fondly.
    Love,
    Me

  15. Dear 12-year-old Me,

    Six years down the line, people are going to tell you they’re jealous of how thin you are. So, don’t worry about it.
    Don’t stop running. Don’t start smoking. You’ll regret both.
    You have had the luxury of a wonderful childhood, don’t ever forget that. Get some perspective.
    You’re a goofy, happy kid who tries not to care what others think. A few years down the line, you will genuinely not care. But, stay goofy, stay happy.
    Stop stressing.
    You’re going to fall in love. Many times. Without trying.

    No, you’re not in love with her. No, it’s not just her. No, she’s not worth it. Yes, it will mess with your head.

    Don’t stress. Really. I mean it. It’s just going to get worse.
    Resist the urge to fuck up your sleep cycle.

    Read more. Read better books. Watch better movies. Listen to better music. Learn as much as the world can teach you.

    And. Everything happens for a reason.

    Love,
    Me. (19)

  16. Dear V

    I admire the heck out of you for your wisdom and the fire in your soul. Its going to land you in a lot of shit. But you know that already. What I can say is that your unrestrained passion for all you do will let you make more mistakes and learn more. It will be a rough ride, but you will not doubt for a minute that you are gloriously alive, which will be a question with many who would like to see you living dead so that they don’t have to face their own demons.

    Eventually, you will figure it out. If won’t be easy, but it will be worth it, and you’ll be glad you made brave choices, brave mistakes, and never hesitated to lay your heart out time and again, no matter what. It is that well abused, well loved, well lived heart that will guide your fire with compassion and save you from riding into bitterness. You’ll thank the hurt too.

    You are alone. That won’t change. What will, is your ability to recognize an entire humanity feeling alone. You’ll have your solitude and endless kindred souls at the same time. One day. For now, you must keep fighting for your right to decide what happens in your space. But it will happen….

    I want you to know that you do eventually learn to love yourself. So, I love you.

    Most importantly, you have my respect. You gave birth to me.

    Vidyut

  17. Dear C,

    You believe that you don’t fit in because you are unique and amazing and intellectual and detached. Well, guess what, that’s true.

    Love,
    C @ 30.

  18. Dear 16 year old R,

    You are a good boy and you know it. You’re doing the right things, keep at it. Just don’t be the lazy bum that you are. You have the right ideas, go out and implement them.

    I know things are fucked up. The ‘Why me?’, ‘What wrong did I do to deserve this?’ sort of questions will find their way to your head from time to time. Just remember kid, it’s already happened and you can’t change it. The implications and consequences will be lifelong and they’ll make you the man that you want to become.

    Your friends will have rich dads, you’ll not. You’ll make your own money. You’ll be proud of it and they’ll respect you for it.

    Don’t bother with the relatives. I don’t know if they really love you or not (haven’t figured out that one yet) but they’re going to bug you. So steer clear.

    Keep loving mom and the sis like you do today. They are everything to you and they’ll always be. Take care of them.

    There’ll be opportunities that you’ll miss and things that you know you deserve. You’ll have them in your hand and still you’ll not be able to grasp them. Don’t fret. There’ll be more. Slow down. They can’t stop you forever.

    It may sound wrong to you, but think about yourself too. You don’t have to be nice to everyone. You don’t want to feel an extra level of bad when they betray you.

    I know you’re wise beyond your years but choose your friends wisely. You don’t want a bleeding heart nor do you want a bleeding nose.

    Laugh your heart out and make others laugh with you too.

    Be the pensive moron that you are. Chicks dig that shit.

    The girls will come and go. Even the ones that seem right. Learn to let go.

    Treat your women right. Be a man. Be honest.

    When you pick up that guitar, don’t stop playing until you finish the lesson and don’t stop going for your classes after every-fucking-month. You’ll regret this later.

    Have fun. Drink after you turn 18. Watch porn. It’s all good.

    Love,
    R (+5)

  19. R……
    =) =) =)
    YOU the mannnnn!!! i always knew it…! 😀
    you keep doing your thing yeah…?

    A

  20. Dear fairytale-believer-imp-thing

    Books didn’t lie. It’s good that you drowned yourself in words. They stayed. Go back to ink in times of doubt and delirium.
    Desperately holding on to those friendships isn’t gonna make them last. You’ll know those people weren’t worth it soon enough.
    The torture they put you through taught you what/who not to be. There’s something to be eternally thankful for.
    You don’t compromise. It’s what makes you who you are. Don’t settle for less. Ever.
    Don’t get bullied. Don’t let yourself be used. By people. By institutions. By thoughts that war with yours.
    Your family is the reason you live a florescent life. Know you are blessed and try not bruise them with your words so.
    I know you like your disappearing acts but stay connected to those fairie souls cause they be beautiful.
    Express your love to those precious few. Say it so they know. Often.
    Your intuition will save your cute little butt, every time. Listen.
    I know nobody gets your wild hair right now but it doesn’t matter.
    Being boob-less isn’t the worst thing ever either. PS: That doesn’t change later though.
    Your volatile self will find some semblance of peace.
    The restlessness never truly goes away but it’ll become a part of you.
    Talk to the tress outside your window when you get lonely.
    Spin those dreams and doodle those stars in your notebook.
    Your pragmatic beliefs get rattled by the bizarre.
    Accept your experiences with the same faith as you would the moon and the sky.

    The sorting hat made a mistake this one time, but your heart didn’t.
    The magic is forever dear one.

    love and rainbow light

  21. Your post inspired me to post a letter to a younger me on my blog. Thought i’d share the link since it is a lil long, and well am not sure if you’d appreciate your comment section being sabotaged (and also, i could do with a visit or 2 :p) So, here it is, my letter to me: http://wp.me/pol3i-1j

  22. Dear 16 Year Old Me,

    As time goes by, with every passing moment, I wonder will I ever find you again. When I was you, perhaps I didn’t realize what you were. I thought it was something I needed to pass by. Something I thought was a brief stop to the greater journey to unravel the mysteries that life would hold. So I waited for something more. I was not entirely wrong, but I should have been more right. I should have been more reckless.

    I learned that you can only know how it feels like being 16 when you can’t be anymore, at least physically. At heart, well, perhaps none of us grow too older who know what it means to love. But then again, we like to think we grow wiser. What I needed to know was that you could grow wiser while being 16, but I am sure I could never understand that at that time.

    Not everyone’s 16th year is the same and I love you because you were the most unique year anyone could ever have. It was you who introduced me to life, in a way, so you became a part of me. And as I age, while I’d look for you in places I don’t even know that exist, I’d remember that I should look somewhere inside my heart.

    And as I age, I’d remember more and more that it is important to live you and it is never too late.

    Love.

    HBR (27) (16 at Heart)

  23. Dear Me@16,
    This mail shall reach you in the worst of your lostness and stupidity. But it’s alright coz you won’t be THIS young EVER again. And one day, ten years down the line, you’ll wake up and see yourself writing a blog piece on how things could have been different. At that moment, you’ll be running short of words while being busy looking for better excuses.

    I understand you’re not sure what you want to do with your life. No one is. You are not the first human to be blessed with such indecisiveness. All around you are confused but they just pretend as if they know your roadmap. All you have to do is make a choice and stick to it. As of now, you must be wondering whether to opt for Electronics or Arts. Trust me, go for Arts. You are way too dull for engineering math and way too good to have a *secured* future. It’s better to be an unsuccessful writer than a terrible engineer. No kidding.

    Pay attention to what I’m saying as I reckon you don’t listen to anyone. After all, I know you better than anyone else. Most importantly, live. Being scared is not a neutral trait. Stop being shy, you dumbfcuk! Go talk to that girl you liked in school. Trust me, it’s worth a try. Spend more time with grandma. She’ll be gone very soon. Take good care of your health. Swim. Run. Cycle. Play football. Do everything that you love but won’t get you killed before you turn 35. Stay in touch with those few dear school friends whom you’re not going to meet on a daily basis anymore. Send a common Thank You Letter to all school teachers and mention what they mean to you. You are not as bad a poet as you think. Of course, you could be worse than that but don’t you dare give up. Keep scribbling. Learn to play guitar. But don’t sing. Some voices are better left unsung.

    Enough of lame advices! Moreover, there’s no point in talking sense into you anyway.

    No matter how much I try, nothing will change. You’ll commit the same mistakes I did. You’ll learn the same lessons I learned. You’ll ultimately become Me@25. It’ll be a fun ride, though at points you’ll feel otherwise. And then one fine morning, you’ll write what you’re reading right now and feel good about having an active memory. Like they say, it’s all written…. in destiny or on internet.

  24. Dear D,

    It’s important that I tell you this.

    First up, You’re stupid cute. I love you.

    If you think you’re a stupid good for nothing, because your brother called you so when you tripped and dropped all his priced marbles that you held in your tiny skirt into weeper holes and the large gutter channel in front of our house, when your were like what? 8? I bet you made all efforts to find ‘em. Getting into the gutter and coming out looking like a guttersnipe. You believed and believe all that he says don’t you? He is your hero. He is the one, I know!, you want to model yourself after.

    You think, he wont love you if you dint do all things he asked you to? Huh?
    Then wait for this! Dec 2005, Heathrow Airport, he’s there to receive you and gets his best homemade upma with lotsa peas and seeing you eat, his eyes go damp and you won’t believe what he is going to say! That’s going to be one of your best moments!

    There would be lot like these in your early years of life, which would shape you into being the current me. You are a thinker, you’re constantly analyzing people, relationships, situations, derivatives 😉 and most of all I see you criticizing yourself, Please don’t! and Please stop living in your mind. You don’t have to be or do anything perfect.

    I want you to just continue believing all that you believe in right now, at 16, about yourself. YES! YOU ARE GOD! And you are goddamn right! Just brand it on your mind, soul, on every dran cell of your body that come what/who shitty circumstances/people in life, those beliefs, the truth about you will stay with you till you die. I wouldn’t advice the do’s and the dont’s, It’s for you to unravel and see how this journey is all going to be worth it. You’re going to be fantastic.

    Muah! Don’t cry. You look wonderful in your fav yellow skirt.

    D+15

    PS – A handy dating tip if you’d like it – Don’t order spaghetti on your date if you don’t know how to eat it. 😉

  25. Dear D,

    I know right now life seems to have normalized just a little. You’re something of a celebrity too aren’t you, getting attention of all kinds. Just remember that this too shall pass. One day, you will find that there’s space in the world for the good, the bad and the ugly, and that everything that happened to you will color everything that you will experience as you grow older. I know you have a namesake that you find increasingly to be your soul sister. Embrace that. Enjoy every bit of this freely, and when it’s time to let go, you will; and you will be the wiser for it. It would help you a great deal too, if you realize that people have their own journeys and lessons to learn; you can’t save everybody and you are no lesser for it. Learn this now, and remember it in years to come. Remember also, that nothing remains constant. Holding on to the past or the present won’t get you anywhere. Try to let go early on. However, Understand that as much as you have been conditioned through pain, to be another persons’ idea of who are are, never let go of who you are- it will hold you in good stead. A few other important pointers:
    1. People will never EVER understand your obsession with MC. So don’t try explaining.
    2. Try not using food to fill the void inside; your older self will thank you- immensely.
    3. Just because somebody leaves you, doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough.
    4. NEVER stop writing!
    5. NEVER stop singing
    6. Spend as much time with you grandmother as possible- boys and everything else will always be around.
    7. You DO NOT have every disease named and un-named on the planet. Accept that NOW before its’ too late.
    8. Anybody who cannot love and accept you for who you are- must be cast-out the minute you see the first signs.
    9. Though the scars are no longer visible, they will mark who you are- forever. Realize that there was a lesson to learn, and let go before it consumes you.
    10. Remember that YOU come first in your OWN life.
    11. DON’T be a recluse. I know this seems impossible now, but in years to come, if you don’t catch yourself, you’ll find that ou’ve fakllen into the rut of being a recluse and will spend years trying to undo the effects. Maintain your affability.

    PS: You are going to be over-obsessed with physical fitness, in the years to come. You think it will help overcome the self-consciousness you have with your own body-image. perhaps it will, but be well informed before you start any regime.

    With lots of warm love and cuddles,
    your eternally 12 self 🙂

  26. Sir:

    I have been advised to write you in my capacity as your older self in order (I presume) to spare you a great deal of pointless bother. However, I am sure you will disregard this advice as you have rejected all others’. You are stubborn, compulsively contrary, and insist on thinking everything through for yourself. So, if I tell you (for example) to not worry about death, that death is merely a figment of language, you will not accept this. You will weigh this notion against others you have encountered, add it to the whirlwind of thoughts forever blasting through your impractically-sized brain, and only attain a degree of calm on the subject many years later. I wish it could be otherwise, but you don’t: it is your nature, and you’re proud of it. Too bad for you, son.

    So while you’re sweating out Death, Careers, Love, The Meaning of Life, Morality, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Sex, Technology, War, and yes I know I’m leaving a whole bunch of stuff out…I will ask you to keep this one thing in mind:

    There is no excuse for loneliness. The world is full of people WHO NEED YOU – TODAY, NOW – and that will be true every second of your life. If you feel lonely, just look for the nearest door. Don’t expect Eternal Love, or any love in return – you will find pleasure and fulfillment in giving love, and unrequited love can be as intoxicating as the love that is ecstatically returned. (And don’t split hairs over romantic vs. altruistic love, Eros vs. Agape, etc. etc. etc. You know what love is. On this point you will fool no one.)

    Is someone out there for you? Shit, man, there are countless people out there for you! By the time you reach my age the problem will be that you only have one self to give to the world. Daily I wish I could send serial selves to laugh with this person, console that one, and help a third one move. But if you don’t circulate, you’ll never meet them.

    So grow some guts, be less selfish, and leave your room more often. That’s my only advice to you. Now, get lost and have fun.

    [Dictated but not signed]

    [Yan Zhitui]

  27. Those lessons that your mind learns through experiences are often not accepted by the heart. The last letter is the best “growing up” letter one could write to a beloved sibling or child.. very well written 🙂

  28. Because you thought I should.

    *************************

    Dear N,

    You’re a lucky man, never forget that. You’re darned lucky.

    You’re lucky to have a great family that trusts you and loves you. Show them some love back. It doesn’t hurt to be embarrassed by them. Love them.

    Let your friends get close to you. That will happen only if you open up to them. All the empathizing in the world won’t matter if you know their entire life story and they only know your phone number.

    If you turn people away enough number of times, they won’t come back.

    Recognize your limitations. You’re pathetic at managing multiple stuff. Don’t bang your head again and again on the same wall. Drop the ego.

    Let that one piece of treachery not close you to everyone else. He was young too. He did what he thought was right. Learn to forgive him.

    You’ll fall ill. Its ok. You’ll get better.

    Do not compromise on your principles and especially on your morals. Once is all it takes. Once its broken, nothing repairs it. Nothing. Never, ever, ever compromise. It changes your life, and not for the better.

    People trust you. They value your words because they know you’ll say what you think and that what you think is right. Don’t let that quality go. It never comes back.

    Don’t attach undue importance to people who don’t reciprocate. They’re not worth the heartache. (This one will be tough, but stay strong.)

    You will always be partial to women. Don’t let it become a weakness.

    Don’t stop reading. You can always start later, but you’d have lost precious time.

    Don’t make false promises. Don’t make promises unless you’re prepared to walk through hell and high water to fulfill them. Not even in jest. People remember.

    You’ll meet a girl soon. You’re going to be with her for a long, long time. Cherish her. She loves you a lot you know. More than anything else in the world. Don’t be too selfish. Take her out to meet your friends. She’ll take time to get adjusted to you, hold her hand in those times. She trusts you, never break that. Listen to her, she’s far more sensible than you’ll ever be. Oh, and she’s stubborn as hell. She’ll infuriate the life out of you, but there’ll be no one as loyal. And you aren’t ever going to leave her, so stop fighting it. Let me tell you a huge secret, YOU love her too. Yes, you. And soon you won’t be able to imagine life without her. She won’t be close even though she wants to be. Take care of her. Its worth the pain.

    Most importantly, don’t try to be who you aren’t. You’ll be tempted by the flashing lights around you, but that’s not you. Reconcile that and you’ll be far, far happier than what you think you will be if you embrace them.

    Get out and Do More.

    Oh, and cut down on the junk. You are going to develop a surprising tendency to put on lots of weight really quickly. Sounds impossible, right? Its true.

    Love (Don’t worry, we still don’t write love on any of our letters)
    N

  29. To me at 16,

    Three years ago, you joined boarding school to escape from a group of people who made you grow up too soon. At 16, you are now bonding with a group of girls from whom you will learn about honesty, bravery, love, wit and compassion.

    You have found an irrepressible, shining spirit in your first friend at the new school. She is the one who will bring you out of your sheltered existence, teach you the local bus and train system in Bombay, make you ditch the VIP seats at a concert and stand with the sweaty crowd upfront, encourage you to always get into trouble and basically show you how to have a life. She loves you for exactly who you are – long before you learn to do that for yourself.

    You will connect with the other new girl at school and talk about the Old Masters, travelling and science. You two have a solid, worked-at bond. However, someday in the middle of the night you will walk out of her house. Like family, she will coax you back to a new level of familiarity.

    You will mock the girl, who at 16 yrs, is reluctant to judge or gossip about others. Instead she notices the evening light or loves a random shape on the table. She will be your support through your 20s and for the rest of your life you will learn to see, really see things and relentless try to understand what is beauty according to you. This will define and elevate your life.

    You will find a sister in the one who shares your raunchy sense of humour, love for U2 and cigarettes. You will find another home in her home and will always belong and feel at home when you are with her.

    You will admire and resent a friend for being able to claim her space anywhere at any age. With her, you will discover your love for literature and word play. With her you will see what it is like to love and celebrate your own individuality. She is the one with whom you will share giggly, drunken evenings that end with the two of you mopping someone’s floor at 5AM. You will miss her wedding and catch up over birthday wishes.

    For now:

    Don’t feel weak for crying when you feel hurt because after a few years instead of seeking release in tears you will take to analysing and condemning whenever you feel hurt. Cherish the hugs you openly demand now.

    At 16, you are all delirious with the power of your friendship. Feeling just so glorious that you have each other and are so damn awesome! Legends. It’s a splendid truth that will stand out even in separation.

    Enjoy the simple bonds now. Don’t question them just yet.

    Love and hugs,

    Me at 34

    PS: You won’t keep your perm.

    1. I wish I’d known you at 16. You make me wish that only with what you have written here. It’s spectacular and I love every bone in your body for it.

  30. Dear N

    You are right. Life is beautiful. Don’t lose sight of what matters-your family.
    You will lose those braces on your teeth, and you will be told you are beautiful. Believe it.
    Tell your parents about that man and that playground…as you get older, it’ll haunt you and you’ll wish you’d have done it sooner. Now is the time. Do it for me.
    Don’t waste your time doing mainstream courses like engineering and mba…you are going to chuck it all and pursue a career completely unheard of in your city.
    Love. Lose. And love again. You are not too young to fall in love, no matter what they say. Your love is purer than theirs will ever be.
    Your stupid optimism will land you in trouble. Don’t go to Kolkata.
    And if you do, remember, life is STILL beautiful.

    Love, N +13

  31. Dear 16-year-old MM,

    I am you, almost 20 years into the future. And looking back, I see a girl who has built a stately dome for herself, much like Kubla Khan. Only it’s a dome of pain, not pleasure. I see a girl afraid to love, or even show affection, for fear that life will snatch the loved one away, much like her father. A girl who thinks not allowing love and laughter into her life will spare her the hurts. Who believes that not giving anyone the power to hurt her will put her in control of her life. Among many other things I want to share with you, I can’t stress enough the importance of allowing yourself to ‘feel’. Please , do not not try to banish emotions from your life. Yes, loving people around you and being in love can cause heartbreaks and you might lose loved ones to death or distance, but always remember that ‘ ’tis better to have loved and lost; than never to have loved at all.’

  32. Dear Me,

    You should really not bother covering your mouth when you laugh. That gap between your teeth? You will learn to be comfortable with it. In fact, far in the future when you work in an office, you would even start a fun ‘gap club’ for those interns with the lucky gap. You will also learn to laugh like you give a damn.

    Don’t worry too much about not being articulate in English. A time would come when Tamil would seem so distant that the only Teacher who loves you in the school now would be sorely disappointed. Hold on to it.

    The oil in your hair and the sandalwood mark on your forehead would slowly disappear.

    You should not worry too much that the handsome Kashmiri boy likes your friend better. You will find love. Over and over and over again. Some relationships would be great and then some not so good. Had you been a little less naive, a few could have been avoided. Had you been a little less manipulative, a few could have been saved.

    Watch your weight. It would only hit you much later in life.

    Brace yourself for all the good things that will slowly start coming your way. The improved lifestyle; new clothes even when it’s not your birthday; non-vegetarian food would no longer be a monthly affair… I say brace yourself because the more comforts you find in life, the more inadequate you would feel.

    Love your Dad a little more. You would regret you didn’t. You would also regret not approving of his whisky habit!

    Kumar and Sairam? They will remain just the madcaps they are now! But you will lose touch with Shanti and you will never stop looking for her.

    I saved the best for the last. Despite all, you would do alright and no matter how old you grow, you will always remain a part of us.

    Love,

    Me

  33. Such a great idea !

    So here goes mine.

    Dear 16 year old Pulkit,

    I can’t know for sure what you’re like, but hopefully you’re the same guy, sans the cruel and unsteady sleeping pattern. I want you to know that however bad things get, you will always have the potential to force them to bend to your will, if only you put in the effort. The effort, however tedious and difficult, will pay off eventually if only you have the perseverance and confidence. Do not give up your life’s dream unless World War III breaks out, which is improbable in just a year. Most importantly, never give up into believing fairy tales. Do not be intimidated by the ‘hellfire’ which some cruel people have invented to give nightmares and cause psychological disorders. Life is not significant to the universe, but to you, your life should always be. People say, if nihilism is indeed true, it wouldn’t matter in a million years whatever happens on Earth. You can kill someone, steal and do anything in the world, because eventually, it won’t matter. Do not be fooled by such illogical fallacies as you sometimes are. What’s happening now will not matter in a million years. Likewise, it doesn’t matter what will happen a million years later. So conclusively, it doesn’t matter that it wouldn’t matter in a million years. So why bother?

    Btw, if the time Machine has been invented and you happen to have it, please travel back to meet me tonight. Bring some books so we can read them together, and also the Sanskrit question paper for this year so I wouldn’t have to waste time studying it.

    Value education above everything and if the internet doesn’t stop interfering, throw away your computer and break it into pieces so that you will have no option but to study. At least in this case, end would justify means. Remember that you are just another species among trillions of others and do not have any right to harm any species, howsoever insignificant and break their impeccable gene pool that has continued for about four billion years. Keep reading PZ Myers’ blog Pharyngula for a dose of sanity.

    With a cup of coffee,
    Your (to-be) 15 year old self.

  34. Dear 16yr old Radhika,

    You are a sweetheart who keeps alot to herself and is too scared to express what you feel..stop worrying soo much about the world..and about losing the people you love..instead make the most of what you have right now the PRESENT with them. DEATH comes like a thief uninvited. you never know you may go much before them..Its great that you appear as this ‘happy go lucky’ person to your friends. BUT you need to laugh too and not just make others laugh..it is ok to feel low sometimes..its ok to not smile when you don’t feel like..to say NO when you are not in a position to help someone..Do not be upset over the death of loved ones..their time had come they had to go..Instead pick up all that they have taught you and carry on.

    be regular with your asthma medication. try swallowing dat raw fish people talk about to cure your asthma. Stop throwing calcium tabs in vases. You will repent years later..when you see all your friends going on these nature treks..n you are stuck at home with zero stamina. Stop stressing soo much! god hasnt sent you to solve the problems of the world! go out. go for walks. Cut short on meat..its extremely unhealthy..eat vegetables..
    Practise the piano. Its a real stress buster especially pieces by Tchaikovsky and Papa s favourite piece by Bach.
    The mist important things, i dunno how you gonna do this but you HAVE TO Overcome the ‘CAT’ phobia…OR YOUR FRIENDS will use that against you!!:(
    stop bottling things inside you. when u angry just take deep breaths. otherwise you only end up crying which in turn makes u sick. write things down if you cannot say it,
    keeping a diary helps.
    Pay attention to the lyrics of the music Papa listens to, rather than making fun of him:). they are so meaningful n inspirational. In india we do not really use the words ‘I LOVE YOU’ to our parents. but you musn’t miss any opportunity to do so!
    Also pls stop being rude to guys and scaring them away. Who knows one out of those million men atleast must be having a genuine heart..
    Take eachy day as it comes. EAT PRAY LOVE…life is good:)

    Hugs,
    24yr old radhika:)

  35. Dear N at 16,
    Do not, I repeat do not fall in love with a single person, there’s more to love than what poetry will lead you to believe.

    Yes, you’ll fall for the engineering trap, they all will, have the fuckin’ balls to leave asap, I waited a year longer than I should’ve. (Don’t worry about your parents; apparently they are the best set of parents an asshole like you can get.) Films and Animation is where you belong, just saving you some time here. Just do anything that keeps you awake 48hrs by choice and still leaves you wanting for more.

    Listen to Pink Floyd.

    Watch Southpark.

    Read, but never forget that ideas are more important than words for us.

    Yes, I know you never learnt sharing since you don’t have siblings, stop doing that you cunt, look around, you cannot ask for more. Don’t you worry; the hippie in you will find you soon.

    Hold onto your friends, hug those sons of bitches right now, soon they all will be in different parts of the world in different time-zones and these lame ‘chutiyagiris’ that you do will happen over ISD conference calls and you cunts who keep an account of who owes whom Rs would be spending $ just to hear each other together and sounding like annoying teenagers. Don’t worry you guys will have the Holiday season for your re-unions. Those 1st world westerners are serious about their holiday season.

    On second thought, do make the engineering trip, you’ll learn things you’ll not learn otherwise.

    Stop getting involved or picking up fights, it’ll hurt more when you’re older, takes longer to heal too.

    Try Pot and LSD, fuck everything else, not worth it. Drugs are bad for bad people and good for good people, so that’s that on that.

    Avoid long-distance relationships, more so if they seem that they may stay apart a while.

    Don’t worry it’s ok to be an adult and cry during movies, so no need to work on that.

    The Red Devils are winning the Champions League in Moscow 2008, see if you can somehow make it there.

    You’re going to come across a lot of people from a lot of different places with a lot of different stories, don’t forget the stories. The ones who want to will remember you, you remember to remember their stories.

    Do not differentiate amongst humans on any basis, they all suck equally. Do not stereotype unless you somehow change paths and become a stand-up comedian.

    Take criticism in your stride; take the insults as angered criticism, seems to work fine. Avoid anger; you somehow are as awesome at insulting as you are at complimenting. Compliment people, but only if you believe it; otherwise just shut the fuck up.

    Never feel ashamed to apologize if you realize you’re at fault, also don’t be asshole, realize your fault when it is there to be realized. Learn from your mistakes; avoid making mistakes that emotionally affect others.

    Have fun reading and researching religions to realize they’ll all be obsolete to you soon. Again remember the stories.

    Respect teachers, some will seem like bad teachers but that’s only because you had good teachers at school and at home, it’s all relative.

    Try and get that ‘Theory Of Relativity’, brilliant that one, you have no clue how many walls in your mind will be broken down once you ‘get’ that.

    Never mix work and money together, only if it’s something you wouldn’t want to work on, then you’re like a whore, so go ahead, and make money out of it then.

    Keep writing, you suck at it but soon you may start sucking less and until then you’ll find something else to suck at, try mixing music then, we gotta do a lot of trying, falling and trying not to fall before we fuck off from here.

    -N(@26)

    PS: You were right, chicks are definitely more horny than us, thanks for the heads up on that one 😛

  36. Dear A,

    *Sigh* 16 is a tough age, tougher for you than for most other people….losing someone that close to you is never easy. Your sweet sixteenth year isn’t sweet – it’s perhaps the most bitter experience in your life but guess what? Life goes on….You never really get over it but you will survive and HOW! You’re just about figuring things out for yourself and trust me it’ll all make sense as you grow older. Life seems so bumpy right now but everything will even out with time. The scars might go away but you will be a much stronger person. I’m SO proud of you A – hugs – you’ve come a long way baby! I know you’re fretting over a whole lot of things but just know that:
    – Make your own mistakes. Don’t listen to what they say about living life by the book. Life’s too short to not figure things out for yourself. Do your own thing, make mistakes, dust yourself and walk bravely again.
    – Never judge: Everyone has a gem hidden inside so don’t make assumptions about others.
    – Fall in love again. And again.: It’s the best thing. Even if it doesn’t work out, don”t lose hope ‘coz there’s always someone waiting for you.
    – Try everything: You won’t regret it and life’s too short.
    – You’re beautiful. Don’t let others tell you otherwise…
    – You can make a home out of a rented house. You just need love and warmth and someone who loves you just the way you are.
    – You will find that special someone. Your soulmate. So don’t go around searching too hard. When you see him, you will know instantly. It’s a cliche but the truest thing ever….
    – Fall back on the comfort of childhood memories and family They’ll be lifesavers in your darkest hours.
    – Travel alone. Live alone. It’ll do wonders for your confidence.
    – People who can’t accept you at your worst don’t deserve you at your best
    – Music can be a soul saver
    – Discover something new each day.
    – Never stop singing. You’ll regret it if you do…
    – Don’t stop dreaming

    Always be the child that you are my darling…be the eternal optimist. So what if you have rose-tinted glasses? never stop believing and hoping. Dream those dreams ‘coz all of them will come true slowly but surely. You deserve the best. You’re TOTALLY worth it!!! xoxoxo…love you always!

    A – wiser and older by 15 years

  37. Dear 16 year old me,

    I don’t know what to say to you except that you are a brave girl and I am proud of you. I know why you are so hungry for love. I wish I could be a mother to you and stroke your head to sleep when you get those terrible headaches. I wish I could be a father, who can tell you the meaning of life. I wish I could wipe away the beatings, I wish I could make you believe you are worthy and beautiful and not the ugly skinny thing your parents see you as. I wish I could be your brother, and be your best friend. I wish and I wish, because I know how beautiful your life could be. But yet I am proud that you are so strong, so real and so ready to embrace life. I hope and wish you like that forever and that life doesn’t make you any smarter or wiser than you already are. If I could change I would only wish that you could love a bit less, give a little less to those who may not be able to return in measure.

    And, I wish you could spend half your time thinking what you want to be – so that you can put your magic into chasing your dreams. If you don’t do that now, you will live a life of many regrets when you reach where I am 🙂

    Lastly, always remember that life is absurdly random and you can never make sense of anything unless you take it lightly. Take nothing to seriously, least of all yourself 🙂

    C’mon open your arms and hug me, set yourself free, learn to hug with all your mind and body rather than shriveling up self consciously. And please learn to dance.

    – G

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