The Spectator Magazine asked many famous people to write advice to their 14 year old self. I find these collection of wise words very moving and share them on this day, when we celebrate family, God and others love, and look both back to the past and on to the future.
Appropriately we start with our Archbishop:
Justin Welby - Archbishop of Canterbury
You are rarely good at anything, a fact you know well and worry about. But don’t worry — it does not measure who you are. Keep on dreaming of great things, but learn to live in the present, so that you take steps to accomplish them. Above all, more important than anything, don’t wait until you are older to find out about Jesus Christ and his love for you. He is not just a name at Chapel, but a person you can know. Christmas is not a fairy story, but the compelling opening of the greatest drama in history, with you as one of millions of players. Life will often be tough, but you will find more love than you can imagine now. With my love to you, Justin
Rory Bremner - Impressionist
Life is full of opportunities and possibilities, but take the time to look around you and take in everything that is around you. The people. The buildings. The landscape. The changing seasons. Talk to your dad about his life: he’ll be gone in four years, and much of his story will die with him. When the time comes that you want to know where you came from, he won’t be around to ask.
And don’t try and do everything at once. On second thoughts, do. You’ll never have this much energy again. Keep taking those piano lessons, and stop cheating by copying the teacher instead of reading the notes.
Kirstie Allsopp - Television presenter
I have lots of advice for you, but I’ll try to only give that which you are likely to take or believe. You are competitive, hugely so. Embrace this now while you are still able to channel it into doing well academically. The world is far bigger than you think and the life your parents lead is a good one. But it is not a blueprint for your life, so don’t waste too much time trying to emulate it. Your mother is right about a lot of stuff but by no means everything. Children are not the be all and end all; it will happen in good time. Have patience and don’t wreck your twenties trying to find a father for your children. Never cut your hair short. Follow your instincts about drugs, you’re on the right track. If he doesn’t call, forget him. And one day you will have every pair of expensive shoes you have ever desired.
Griff Rhys Jones - Comedian and actor
Do 14-year-olds want advice, let alone take it? Only a few casual maxims remain from my teenage years. ‘Don’t sit on radiators, they give you piles.’ ‘Always step in the middle of a boat.’ ‘Lime green trousers don’t suit you.’ I probably still follow them all. I might throw in ‘sugar makes you fat’ and ‘you will grow out of nearly every belief you have now, so don’t base your life on it’. All else was ‘instruction’ and I ignored it.
My main advice to me should be ‘become a lawyer’. Lawyers are universally convinced they are doing the only worthwhile job in the world. They are self-satisfied, assured of their own intellectual detachment, morally patrician and wealthy. All qualities indicative of middle-aged happiness. Mind you, quite a few of them are bored. But there will always be a downside. That’s a good maxim to remember.
Taki - columnist
My advice to my 14-year-old self would be to read more and play less. If I had paid more attention to my studies rather than trying to impress girls with dumb stunts, I would have written something of value by now. I cannot stress how important the right education is for a 14-year-old. But I wasn’t paying attention, despite the brilliant teachers I had. All I thought of was girls and to be captain of sports so I could impress them. Worse, I continue to do this today and have only arthritis to show for it.
Niall Ferguson - Historian
1. Never, ever drop maths.
2. Start supporting Arsenal now. Scottish football is doomed.