Okay, so if you are a man reading this article, chances are you have heard about or hopefully even read the women’s version of the article that came out in Issue 9 and thought, “What about us? Do we not deserve the chance to be represented?” If that was you, then you are in luck; of course I would never leave you out.
Boys: I don’t pretend to understand them and, sometimes, I do not want to! One thing I do know is that, when it comes to major life obstacles, the way that the male and female sexes react are often poles apart, but everyone could do with a bit of advice or perhaps a push in the right direction in those tough moments. So who better to give you that advice than your future self? I asked some male teachers at Berkhamsted to write to their 15-Year-Old selves and here is what they came up with …
Dear 15 year old me!
So you have just scraped through another exam by doing the minimum … well done?! Why did you leave it until the night before … again! It's down to you, procrastination will get you nowhere! Your revision might seem impossible now, but you can do it if you try. Just knuckle-down now and live up to your potential.
That said, don’t worry about a thing, because everything happens for the best. Try everything, experiment and don’t be afraid to fail. Appreciate the wealth of good things that you do because you will get there in the end.
Otherwise, you could bet every penny you have on Manchester United winning the in 1996 FA Cup final (your exam results won’t matter when you win!)
Dear 15 Year Old Me,
You are very unlikely to follow this advice right now, even if it does come from yourself. Whilst you should definitely pay attention to what other people think of your actions and thoughts, don't ruminate over what people say about you. You can only ever be yourself and will never be another person.
You might want to stop supporting Newcastle United now, otherwise this could be with you for life. This sounds flippant, but it is crucial: always be full of hope and believe the best in people, but if blind faith ever becomes a millstone, know when to reappraise your loyalties.
Be proud of what you and other young people do, and beware that those who seek to overlook the achievements of younger people are undermining the lifeblood of all of our futures. If you are quoted the words “our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers”, then it might be refreshing to point out that they were uttered by Socrates well over two thousand years ago.
With all good fortune you will be around in this world for some time yet, but in the very grand scheme of our universe, even if it's for another 80 years, it will not be that long. So face opportunities with the attitude that, if people develop regrets, those are more likely to focus on what opportunities they have not taken, rather than on those that they have.
Even though you'd be startled if somebody suggested to you right now that you might go into teaching and work with young people later on, keep an open mind on this as you never know the joy that might follow.
For the last word in any letter like this, right now very few people know what the World Wide Web is, but when you do, check out “Wear Sunscreen Speech” and you will find some advice from Mary Schmich that would be wise for many people, younger and not so young, to heed.
Dear 15 year old me,
I would strongly urge you to not get too absorbed in that 16k ZX Spectrum, but instead go out and enjoy yourself. In the near future, you may have the opportunity to get this new computer, which they call a Mac. If you do, don’t be too quick to throw it away as it might be worth a bit in years to come as a classic retro computer.
Keep listening to the music you love. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go is a top tune that will be a classic in years to come and the album Fantastic really is superb, no matter what they say.
I know you are desperate to see Prince at Wembley Arena. You might think that the gig is too expensive from that ticket tout, but every great experience is worth its weight in gold, so make sure you go!
The most important thing I would say to you is that you should fully realise the importance of the friendships you make and invest time into those, as they could be friends for the rest of your life.
Finally, take loads of photos as it will be good to look back, especially if you follow the new romantic look; Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet whatever floats your boat. These will be some of the best (and probably most embarrassing) years of your life, but they will always hold a special place in your heart … and in your photo album.
From your future self,
Dear 15 year old me,
I’m not going to lecture you. You wouldn’t listen anyway.
But, with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, perhaps you’d like to consider this:
Sorry, matey, but your teachers are right. It is the hard workers that get the reward. Effort is everything, and sadly there ARE more of them than us.
There are no shortcuts in life - do not squander time looking for them.
Do not think that your school years are the best of your life; it is a complete myth. University time, now that’s when you can really break free. And it just gets better and better.
Broaden your horizons. Get out there and live. See the world.
Be an entrepreneur, in spirit at least. See what is out there and grab some for yourself. Why should anyone else deserve it more than you?
You’re smart, people like being with you, you’ve got your own teeth and hair. Dear boy, you’ve got the lot. Do not undersell yourself and believe.
Do not give yourself any cause to live with regret.
Do not become a teacher until you’ve done all of the above.
Your older ego,
PS. Enjoy West Ham’s FA Cup win later this year. You will be waiting a hell of a long time for the next one.
PPS. Stick a few quid on England to win the Headingley Ashes Test next year. Wait until the end of Day 3 for the best odds and hold your nerve.
PPPS. Supertramp’s Crime of the Century will always be an inspiring album, no matter what your wife tells you.
Guessed who they are yet? To all of you boys out there who can either relate to these experiences or if you have yet to face these troubles, heed this advice. If you have been through it and are still in one piece; well done, surviving teenage years is no mean feat. But for those of you still looking forward to this time, first of all I want to wish you good luck and also to encourage you to be you, forget banter, forget expectations, forget what your friends think (I know, it is easier said than done, but really is worth the attempt) and just appreciate being young.
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Original image by Chante Bohitige.