Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

An open letter to my 16 year old self.

Circa 2004 Dear Sam,

This must be a bit strange getting a letter from your future self – I imagine you’re wondering about all the cool shit you’ll be getting up to in the next 12 years.

Maybe you’re imagining I’ve just got back from my high flying executive job going from my office at the World Trade Centre in New York (where I build my fortune) by jet (British Airways of course) to my chateau in France to hang out with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and have jumped on my hoverboard before loading up the holonews on my Playstation 8 watch to view the sad news that national treasure Jimmy Saville has passed away quietly.

You’re in for some surprises.

I’m going to leave plenty of them for you to find out yourself but suffice to say quite a lot of unexpected things happen, quite a few predictable things go on and a few things that everyone suspected yet kept remarkably quiet will hit the metaphorical fan.

There’s a few things I wish I’d known at 16 I wanted to share with you. Little tit bits of knowledge that took longer than expected to discover. This shouldn’t change you but it’s just useful to know.

  • You will not master sex for a while and that’s normal. To be honest, it’ll take quite a few attempts. There will be times when you’ll look around at other people and wonder why they always sound like they know what they’re doing – they don’t – they’re bullshitting with confidence and wanking lots.
  • Dancing is not a strong area for you in social situations. For comic effect – yes. To bring a group of strangers together – yes. To attract women – no. I can’t stress enough how much you shouldn’t dance around women to attract them. Also, the patented “fry up dance” isn’t good. Nor funny.
  • Dress better and get contact lenses. I know you think you look cool – but seriously – in 12 years time you’ll think “why didn’t I pull more girls” and then look at a picture and there will be the reason in front of you. You should also not cut your own hair, what you can’t tell in the mirror is that you’ve missed a bit in the middle and you look like you’ve got a crap pony tale.

These are just a few tips, I know you’re probably hoping for lottery numbers or recommended stocks and shares but seriously don’t bother, although if you must try then Google it from your Apple mac.

I’m going to shatter the illusions you probably have right now. I remember we dreamed of working at the National Theatre – being a famous director and playwright – Artistic Director by 30, or was it 25? Working in a theatre with dreams, ambition, where anything was possible and the only limit was our imagination. Those were heady days.

The shattering reality is that your 28 year old self is lost.

That’s not to say unhappy (you make mistakes along the way (all your fault, sorry to tell you) however your love life looks up around 26…) nor are you a total waste of space – that suspicion that you may be quite funny isn’t too far off the mark and you have plays on that you’ve written and directed.

What I mean by lost is that the dreams and ideals you held up for your professional life don’t quite measure. Your 28 year old self has reached a point, a turning point where he can either fight for a dream or fly off and seek it somewhere else. And it scares the shit out of you – you don’t know whether you are strong enough to do it or whether people believe it too or even if it’s a cause worth fighting for.

What I’m saying Sam, naive innocent badly-dressed 16 year old Sam, is that you’ll reach a moment where you don’t know what to do and you’ll have to take a leap of faith. You’ll have to take a leap into the unknown where you may end up unemployed, hated, an outcast and failure and more lost than you ever were before.

But you shouldn’t be afraid.
You shouldn’t want to curl up and die.
You should find those around you who believe.
You should find those who inspire.
You should find those who dream of more.
And you should take that leap.

Besides, you’ve done it before and it worked out rather well.

Good luck and remember: clothes, dancing and google.

Best, Sam.

P.S. Stop idly dreaming about the girl you meet and never talk to at sixth form – and seriously if the moment to talk to her does arrive then don’t try and seduce her with the “fry up dance”. It’ll never happen and besides, better things are on their way.