Dear 15 Year Old Me
'I decided to find out what advice some of the teachers at Berkhamsted School had for their 15 year old selves...'
Chante Bohitige | 1 February 2016

So, here we are, the year 2016 and even though we have the hover boards, self-lacing trainers and electric cars as predicted in the second movie of the Back to The Future trilogy there is unfortunately still one thing missing… Our cars still cease to possess the ability to fly, oh and of course to transport us from one decade to the next. Yes, I am talking about time travel! Is there not a wealth of things that you wish you could go back and tell yourself now that you have driven through the tunnel, navigated your way in the darkness and emerged from the other side to find the light? Well, after watching a TV talk show in which Dawn McCoy talked about her version of the Dear 15 Year Old Me campaign; I decided to find out what advice some of the teachers at Berkhamsted School had for their 15 year old selves…


Dear 15 year old me,

STOP WORRYING, right now! Exams and GCSEs are not everything. In fact, in the bigger picture, they are just a stepping stone. You can only do your best and that is all anyone can ask of you. Do not worry about making mistakes, Elbert Hubbard was right: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” Mistakes are a good thing, you learn from them and they make you stronger. Who cares if you make a mistake?...NO ONE, just you! If you worry about others and what they think, you are wasting energy which you could be using to show everyone how amazing you truly are. Believe in everything you do, never doubt yourself or let anyone else doubt you, if they do - prove them wrong! Be strong and confident!

Love future Tasha x


Dear 15 year old me,

You get through this, it gets better, a lot better! I know you worry constantly about what other people think about you, let me tell you, they do not matter. Boarding school can be tough, but after you leave school and go to uni and then on with your life, you stay in touch with 2 people from school, who remain close friends - only 2 from 450 really matter. Do not let the others influence what you do, be yourself.

You are at your best when you have a cause to fight for e.g. the vital issue that Year 10 should be allowed out into town on a Saturday afternoon. So try to hold on to the tenacity and determination you used to gain that IMPORTANT victory, the sense of pride when you succeeded in getting the rule changed. Keep standing up for what you believe and continue to argue and fight against what you think is unfair.

You end up teaching Classics! So all those hours reading myths and legends and learning your vocabulary and grammar, together with your fascination for the ancient world bring you to a fulfilling, challenging and fantastic career.

You may be interested to know that your love of film, music and SciFi never goes away. However, as yet sadly we have still not found a “Galaxy, far, far away” and you have not found your own Han Solo - you still play the trombone and really enjoy it, so don't skip practising!

Try not to argue with Mum and Dad so much now as I know time is getting shorter for them; I would just treasure moments spent together.

So, enjoy life, take every opportunity, say “yes” more than “no”, and have faith in your abilities.

Love future Rachel


Dear 15 year old me

Let me start by saying that you are wise beyond your years and that is what makes school a difficult period in your life. Whilst others sit on the fence and try to “fit in”, you are your own person who loves to look out for those around you. Remember when Paul, the smallest boy in Year 10 decided to pick a fight with the tallest and quietest boy in Year 11? Your peers ran out of the building to watch but not one person got involved, though they took pleasure in egging Paul on. In that moment you knew that Darren would not have fought back and so you stood in front of him and told Paul to back off. It takes a strong person to stand up for the underdog and not just follow the crowd. Hold on to that passion to stand up and shout when you believe something is wrong.

Try new things! No, I do not mean hopping on a plane to Boston to stalk New Kids on the Block but once in a while do things that take you out of your comfort zone. It is easy to take the path which seems to be the easiest and most familiar, but remember, the greater the potential risk, the greater the potential success. The biggest achievers in our world did not get there without taking chances ... “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” (Susan Jeffers)

Love Justine of the future x

P.S. Do not be so quick to throw away your clothes. One day they become vintage and you will really wish you still had them. PLUS, when they come back into fashion (and they will), your daughter will never let you live it down!


Dear 15 year old me,

I know you are anxious about moving house and country (again) but these experiences will give you so much in the future - for one, a really creative survival system and a crazy imagination! You will be so thankful for this move - it makes you smarter and gives you better opportunities.

Try not to let your self-esteem and your anxiety get in the way of choosing the friends, experiences and opportunities that YOU want to have - do not just be swept up by the inevitable current of circumstances.

Be an active participant in shaping the life you want. Do not panic too much about exams and revision, if you work hard all year to the best of your ability - the exams will be an opportunity, not a threat! You are already in a better position than those who have not worked hard all year!

Please do not waste your childhood on boys - there's so much time for them later on and future you is very upset that you have not spent time on developing more skills or hobbies - after all you could be/ do anything! Oh and stop writing to your friends in lessons - not only because it is a rude to the teacher (and you WILL be in those shoes) but also because your casual disregard for the English language is frankly embarrassing; people do not “gigglez” or “fink dat”, and there's no such thing as “coolz beanz!”

Love future (just as confused) Gemma

P.S. Keep drinking tea, it will always be there for you!


The next time that you worry about the way that you look, your ability to succeed or even whether that person you like likes you back, just remember that one day you will have your older self writing to you, guiding you, reminding you not to overthink things, not to worry and to just enjoy being a teenager!



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Original title image by Chante Bohitige, original illustration by Millie Quick

James Routledge 2016