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A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self

“You may also want to consider not turning into a slut. There’s nothing wrong with having lots of sex with different men, but you might find yourself bed hopping for the wrong reasons – and attracting a lot of crabs in the process (not the kind you eat)”.

Josef Church-Woods


This blog entry was inspired by an article in The Guardian about a book called Dear Me: More Letters to My Sixteen Year Old Self, in which 10 celebrities write letters to themselves at 16, with advice and life lessons.

Obviously, I’m not a celebrity, so the above will be of little interest to the general public, but it was both fun and interesting to write it. What do you say to your 16-year-old self? How much are you allowed to reveal about the way your life pans out? What would you want to hear about your 35-year-old self at the age of 16? Give it a go and see for yourself.

Dear Josef,

Right now you are struggling to understand and like who you are. Though you have recently started to overcome the bullying of the last decade and make your way into a circle of good friends, I know you feel like you are alone in the world with little to offer.

I’m writing to tell you that that is not the case; it may be hard for you to believe, but I’m almost 20 years older than you and much less melodramatic, so do yourself a favour and accept what I have to say.

Firstly, you are gay. Not confused or bisexual – you’re a big, flaming homo. Don’t feel bad about it or be tempted to deny it to yourself. It’s not a bad thing, even if it seems like it just now; one day you will love this wonderful sexuality of yours, but until then, practise daily to be proud of yourself, just the way you are.

Although if you want to remain just the way you are, you should probably also train yourself to enjoy regular exercise. Aside from a couple of years of jazz dance classes in my late teens (like I said; big, flaming homo) I didn’t, and now I’m kind of fat.

I’m also bald by the way and I’m not sure there’s much you can do about that, except resign yourself to it and spend a lot less money on Regain in your early 20s.

Maybe I’m not doing a great job of selling your future life to you, but it really is pretty amazing. Losing your hair and gaining weight are by no means the worst trials you will have to endure, but I promise you that it will all be worth it if you just persevere.

If I told you where and with whom you were living in 19 years time, you would be amazed, proud and excited! The fact that this letter is in English, not Swedish, perhaps gives you at least a vague clue. But just so you don’t get any silly ideas, you’re not going to be a film star, recording artist or famous millionaire (seriously kid, get real!). You will however do well for yourself and one day you will meet the most amazing soulmate of a husband that anyone could ask for.

So try to stop comparing yourself to others and try harder to be a kind, generous and honest person. You may be gay, but behaving like a bitchy queen will not make you feel better about yourself.

You may also want to consider not turning into a slut. There’s nothing wrong with having lots of sex with different men, but you might find yourself bed hopping for the wrong reasons – and attracting a lot of crabs in the process (not the kind you eat).

In my experience, sleeping with someone because you are too drunk not to, or because you desperately want a relationship, never leads to any longer term happiness. So try to be patient with love and watch how much/often you drink – you might save yourself a lot of unnecessary pain. And if you are ever wooed by a nice guy (a friend of an ex, for example) who really fancies you, but you know in your gut that the spark isn’t there – be kind and break it off tactfully after the first or second date.

Despite all your insecurities and misplaced self-loathing, you are a bright, outgoing and fun person who has a knack for attracting all sorts of fantastic, loyal friends. The bottom line here is that if you can just start to muster up a little bit of love for yourself, the rest will follow.

So try to be happy and work on your self-esteem; look forward to life and know that good times await; be glad to be gay – that’s what the word means, after all – and don’t let anyone make you feel like there is anything about you to be ashamed of. Except when you misbehave.

Most importantly though, if you ever get the urge to go out in public in a pair of plastic snakeskin patterned trousers, a pale blue silk shirt and huge Buffalo platforms (you’ll understand that last one in 1995) – for the love of God, just say no!

Until 2011; be good, be happy, and be careful with my pretty face ;)

Jxx x

Dear 16-year-old Josef

A promise of what’s to come?

Read Barry’s letter as part of the article: Footsteps & Witnesses


Categories: Bears Bisexual Bullying Celebrities Coming out Equality Gay Homosexual Icon Lesbian LGBT LGBT History Month Opinion Transgender Uncategorized


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