If you could write a letter to your sixteen-year-old self, what would you say? Most of us would probably write some version of, you’ll live through it, no matter how bad it is right now. In one way or another, that’s what most of the writers wrote in the book, Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self.
Joseph Galliano collected letters from a number of celebrities and compiled them in an interesting collection. Some of the proceeds go to benefit Doctors Without Borders. There are celebrities from many walks of life, but a majority come from the entertainment world. Everyone will recognize contributors such as J.K. Rowling, Garth Brooks, Stephen King, Gene Hackman, Suze Orman.
Some of the letters were handwritten, and I had problems with them. Although the editor chose to post them in a variety of formats so they appeared to be the originals, those that were handwritten were difficult to read. I gave up on the letter written by Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. Her handwriting was just too hard to decipher. And, I wasn’t crazy about the letters that gave away too much information to the sixteen-year-old, but that was my peeve, and some of the writers chose to do that.
Hugh Jackman, the first writer in the book, also had my favorite letter. He gave practical advice, didn’t give the future away, and ended with this line. “P.S. buy shares of Google when they are invented!!!” He wasn’t the only one to give stock advice. Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, wrote, “Invest early in those stocks with baby-speak names; Google, Apple, Yahoo!, and such.” And, Alice Cooper’s note ended, “PPS: I think coffee might really catch on, maybe call it Star something…”
I enjoyed those writers who included a little humor in their advice. Garth Brooks suggested, “Oh, one more thing, your across the street neighbor is going to ask you to learn guitar with him…I suggest you take him up on it.” Writer Jodi Picoult wrote a list of what is not important in life, including “Calculus. Trust me: you will never use it.”
My two favorites were Hugh Jackman’s letter, and Graydon Carter’s. Carter gave advice that I really only followed in the last seven years, advice I’ve appreciated just this year. He said, “Go home at the end of the day. People with balance in their lives live better lives. Whether it’s a family waiting for you, a partner, a dog, or just a good book, just go home. Don’t make work your life. Make it your day life. Your evening life should be something completely different and even more fulfilling.”
Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self will make you look back at your own life. But, there just may be a lesson or two to take to heart right now.
Joseph Galliano’s website is www.josephgalliano.co.uk.
Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self. Ed by Joseph Galliano. Atria Books. ©2011. ISBN 9781451649642 (hardcover). 134p.
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