Each week in The Big Issue we ask famous figures to give a good talking to their younger selves. Their words of hard-won wisdom are revealing, inspiring and always a must-read. Here are a few highlights from those who have shared their story with us this year in Letter to My Younger Self.
Peter Dinklage: Wasted youth – and that’s no mistake
They say youth is wasted on the young but it’s truly not. The amoeba is forming itself, cells are dividing, everything is sorting itself out. At that time you are riddled with doubt but you also have an arrogance. It’s the time you’re supposed to make mistake after mistake and learn from them. I still wonder every day how many mistakes I will ratchet up, but as Beckett said: fail again, fail better. And there are no mistakes, especially in what I do for a living. Read the full interview.
Kenneth Branagh: Belfast boy
I would tell my younger self to worry less about being liked and more about being real. Be as kind as you can be, but also honest and direct, which is difficult because we so want to be liked. Accept you will always fail at these attempts to be a decent human being, but pat yourself on the back for the attempt, don’t punish yourself for the inevitable failure. The journey of 10,000 miles begins with the first step. Keep taking it. Read more.
Sharon Horgan: Divorce is no catastrophe
I’d tell my younger self that sometimes it’s a really positive thing to move on from a relationship. It can mean your life suddenly just opens up and feels much more suited to your personality. I feel like, especially if you come from a religious background – I was brought up Catholic – divorce is kind of a dirty word. But it shouldn’t be. Divorce can be a really helpful, handy thing that can change your life. There’s a lot of shame attached to the failure of a relationship, and that shouldn’t be the case. Especially if you’ve given it a good go and you’ve got a loving family. Read the full letter.
Paul O’Grady: Savage altar boy
I was an altar boy until I saw a film called Gypsy about Gypsy Rose Lee. All of a sudden, my whole style on the altar changed – you had this 12-year-old stripper. I used to lift my cassock to go down the steps – you know, show an ankle – and swing the thurible more enthusiastically than I should have. What attracted me to Gypsy wasn’t the glamour, it was the backstage sleaze and crummy dressing rooms. I thought, that must be a wonderful life. Read the full interview.
Louis Theroux: Weird adolescence
In my early teens I was trying to figure out who I was and get a girlfriend and not having a lot of luck. Then, when I was 16, my voice broke, and the first green shoots of pubic hair began to appear. The long awaited ‘manhood’ finally seemed to flower, which was a huge relief. Part of me had wondered if I would ever get any proper tackle. But at the same time, I was like, well, now what? What does it mean to be me? Read more.