All this month across Virgin.com we’re focusing on youth, with the aim to empower young people to follow their dreams and engage with society in a positive way – plus we’re hoping to learn a thing or two from them along the way.
This topic got me reflecting on a letter I wrote last year, to a 10-year-old me. I thought it was appropriate to share it with you here:
I’m writing to you from more than 50 years in the future. You’re a lot older now, and while you’ve lived a happy and healthy life with no regrets, I have some advice for you.
You know how you love to play outdoors and explore the world around you? Never stop doing that. Always seek adventure. Learn to swim, find your own way home, and climb trees with Lindy, Vanessa and your friends. The spirit of adventure will keep you curious; open your mind to great opportunities; and steer you on a lifelong quest to prove that impossible is just a word. You will have many wonderful adventures in your life with the most incredible people – I won’t give away exactly what they are, as I don’t want to spoil the fun.
On the topic of imagination, never stop dreaming and creating. Children are too often told that they cannot do this, and they shouldn’t do that – ignore them. Don’t ever let anyone prevent you from going after your dreams. Balloons, trains, planes and spaceships – whatever comes into your imagination, continue to dream big.
Your imagination is one of your greatest gifts – this will become more and more apparent when you enter secondary school. You will face many challenges, and often feel like you don’t fit in and that you can’t always keep up. Don’t let this hold you back. Use your imagination to find inventive ways around it. Your ability to think differently will become one of your biggest advantages in life – taking you places where most straight-A students will never go.
Challenges will be a constant in your life. You will make a lot of mistakes and fail time and time again. But don’t let this discourage you. Failure teaches us life’s greatest lessons, and often shows us a better way of doing things. Don’t ever let failure get you down. Everyone fails. Your biggest heroes – including Douglas Bader, Ernest Shackleton and Scott of the Antarctic (did you know you’re related?) – have all failed at some point; but look what they achieved in the end.
And when you do make mistakes, know that your parents will always be there for you. While you may get in trouble at times, they always have your best interest at heart and love you unconditionally. You will understand this better when you become a father yourself. Be nice to your family and listen to your mum and dad – they will guide you through life and be there for you at every turn. Remember to treat others as you would want to be treated.
Above all, always remember to have fun. As you grow older you will realise just how important it is to do what you love and love what you do. Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t excite you. Find your passions and go out there and grab at them with both hands. Life is for living and try to enjoy every day.
Have you ever written a retrospective letter to a younger version of yourself? What did it say? I’d like to hear about it in the comments below.