20 April 2018Last updated


A letter to your teenage self

If you had the chance to write a letter to your teenage self – to offer words of advice, support, or comfort – what would you say? We’ve asked women in the UAE to do just that, and their words are fascinating…

By Louise Emma Clarke
18 Aug 2013 | 12:17 pm
  • Teenage self

    Source:Getty Images

Dear Paula,

Stop worrying about what other people think of you. Your assumptions are usually wrong because you are a good person with innate empathy and sympathy for other people. Have the courage of your convictions and don’t be fearful. You are a person impassioned by the cause for equal rights, a feminist, and you hate injustice – even though you have not been able to articulate this to yourself yet. You are never going to marry Donny Osmond, but don’t worry about it, you probably wouldn’t like living in Utah anyway. Keep a diary – life does indeed fly by faster the older you get. But don’t worry because everything is going to work out fine... you will have a roller coaster life, travel a lot, make some true friends along the way and keep them for decades, and have an endlessly enquiring curiosity about the world and the people around you. You will grow to accept who you are and be truly happy about it.

Paula Horsfall, 55, British, co-founder 
of reMADE DXB 
and mum to Lucy, 26

Dear Laura,

Listen up, this needs to be brief but there are a few things you need to know. Your parents are right – education does matter and your efforts (or lack of) today will affect your opportunities in the years to come. Spend more time with your parents. They love you unconditionally and will always stand by you. Choose your friends wisely; good friends are hard to come by. But the most important part of this letter is this: when the idea of travelling creeps into your mind, ignore your fears, pack your bags and go. No other decision will impact your life as much as that one. Finally, teenage girls are not fashionable in flip-flops, board shorts and baggy tees. And stop smoking… it is not cool!

Laura Russell, 29, Australian, 
full-time mum to Ayda, 14 months

Dear Rhiannon,

Remember that life is a journey of highs and lows; nothing will come easy, but hard work and determination will prevail. Don’t worry too much about what others think – the most important opinion is your own. You are creative – never let anyone stifle that. Keep doing what you love. When it comes to your career, you must fight harder to get where you need to be as a woman. Do not allow anyone to take advantage of you, and hold your ground. Show people you are worth their investment. Don’t be afraid to take on challenges and risks – they will pay off!

Rhiannon Downie, 32, British, founder of online wedding website for expats

Dear Bree,

Stop sunbathing! Your skin will never turn the colour you are hoping for and when you are in your sixties, you will regret spending all that time in the sun. Devote your time to reading and relaxing. When your children arrive in 20 years’ time, you will dream of being able to lie on a sunbed in the shade for a few hours! Write everything down – that is something you will adore looking back on in years to come. Save up for a camera and take as many pictures as you can. Keep them safe and organised. Memories of these days of your youth spent in the Queensland sunshine will bring a big smile to your face when you are old and grey!

Bree Dunn, 61, Australian, retired teacher and mother of two – Jessica, 33, and Michael, 29

Dear Laura,

I can still remember the moment Chris told you the relationship was over. Tears stung the back of your eyes as you ran to your mum’s office and collapsed in a heap of hot, heartbroken, shuddering sobs. You would have taken great comfort in me telling you that you got back together and eventually got married, but that is not the case… You will go through a little more heartbreak in your teens and twenties, but you will meet the man of your dreams soon after, and spend seven happy years together before he proposes on a beautiful winter’s day. You will get married on a snowy day just before Christmas and go on to create a beautiful family with him. Chris will be nothing more than a happy teenage memory – and you won’t regret it one little bit.

Laura Keightley, 32, Irish, full-time mum to Charlie, one

Dear Leanne,

It is in your nature to work hard, but don’t forget to have fun along the way. Be brave and take risks – they pay off. You’ll never be able to imagine where you will end up, but it is really exciting! Your career will always be important to you, but you will love being a mum more than you can imagine. So make time for it. Stay connected to friends and family, no matter where you are in the world – they will never let you down and will always be a fantastic source of support and joy.

Leanne Henderson, 37, Kiwi, project director for a global hotel chain and mum to Olivia, one

Dear Emily,

Save as much as you can before kids come along. I may sound like your mother (you will notice the similarities more and more as the years go on), but is that expensive pair of shoes more important than a deposit on a home? Remember that stylish women don’t have to spend a lot – they just know what suits them. When it comes to parenting (it may seem like a long way off, but time passes so quickly), remember that no one will ever know your child better than you. Don’t set impossible standards and don’t obsess over routines. Be a loving parent, and don’t take credit for their achievements. Similarly, don’t beat yourself up if they don’t do as well as you expected. Most importantly, follow your instincts – the more you love your choices, the less
 you need others to 
like them.

Emily Glynn, 39, French, freelance consultant and mum to Estelle, 
six, Tess, four, and Cyprien, one


We asked a panel of Aquarius readers to offer a few words of advice to their teenage selves and here’s what they came up with…

Shilpa Parmar says, “Respect and be truthful to your parents. Be appreciative of the life they have given you and make the best of
 your education.”

Caroline Wareham says, “Follow your heart and don’t let others dictate your future.”

Anu Bhatnagar says, “Be brave, experiment, follow your dreams, and stay away from boys!”

MeAn Mercado says, “Enjoy your teenage years, because they don’t last forever. Laugh and be silly. Watch more movies and party when you want to. One day you will wake up and there won’t be time for it any more.”

Anuja Karwal says, “Take more risks. Work out what you love doing and get paid for it!” 

Arwa Fina says, “Ignore what other people think about you – just do what you really want. Focus more on studying and forget about boys – you have a long life ahead for that!”

By Louise Emma Clarke

By Louise Emma Clarke