To celebrate the release of Speak Up!, author and campaigner Laura Coryton has written an intensely beautiful and inspiring letter to her younger self which Laura has kindly allowed me to share.
A Letter to my Younger Self
Dear young Laura,
I am your future self. No, really! I’m sorry to break this to you, but you haven’t become Queen of the world nor have you invented that pasta-crisp hybrid snack you have been dreaming of (I’m sorry okay, I’m working it!) but you do see the world in a different way when you reach your mid-twenties.
Here are just a few pointers to help you see the world for what it really is, sooner. I have a LOT to tell you. So sit back, relax and enjoy some advice from one feminist to another:
Firstly, stop fighting with your sister. She has a blackbelt and can literally kick you in the head (a fact you will soon find out for yourself) and although you don’t fully appreciate this yet, she has been teaching you the value of female friendship and sisterhood since before you were born. For anyone else reading this, we’re twins so technically we were wombmates before roommates (get it? get it?). Sisterhood is golden and key to making changes.
Secondly, forget everything you know about the world. Yep, I really mean everything! You see the world and the laws, assumptions and social rules that govern you as immovable. You often simply accept that the boys in your class are listened to with more respect than you are and that you’re made to feel you have no place in politics or shaping the laws that govern you because you’re female.
You think boys harassing girls in your school is ‘normal’. You don’t question why it’s the girls who are scorned and socially alienated after teachers are dismissed for sexual harassment, or why new conservative school uniform is seen as the solution to this (like it’s the fault of you girls?) not tighter checks on teachers.
But you shouldn’t be okay with any of this. None of this has to happen. Opinions can be changed by voices like yours. You can bring issues to light. Literally any barrier you face only exists because others have created them. If others can create them, you can help to break them down.
Thirdly, I need you to know that it’s your job to change the things that make your life suck, because nobody is going to do this for you.
You don’t realise this yet, but you have a powerful voice. Use it.
You can influence policies and challenge the assumptions and expectations that make you feel trapped. Use the tools you have – namely the internet, petitions, people power and that brain of ours (which is never a sentence I thought I would write!) – to challenge the hate and barriers you face. The internet is the perfect and most powerful amplifier for voices like ours. Use it!
Finally, I want you to start being delightfully impatient. When you leave your hometown for uni you will begin to realise that things aren’t getting any better and that the world won’t change by itself. So you start to stand up for yourself, and others like you who face the same problems. Please do this earlier.
This is your life. You can’t wait for the world to change. You need to make change happen. This is your time to speak up!
About Speak Up!
Speaking up can be difficult, but did you know just how powerful your own voice can be?
Written by Laura Coryton, who led the international campaign against tampon tax, Speak Up! is a vital and timely book exploring what it means to stand up for what you believe in on both a public and personal level. Laura explores how to make sure your voice is heard as well as what happens when your voice is challenged by others. She tackles tricky subjects like feminism, consent, online bullying and self-confidence in a meaningful but accessible and entertaining way.
With a positive message about friendship, female empowerment and standing up for who you are, Speak Up! is the must-have empowering book to inspire a whole new generation of rebel girls.
Available from Amazon here, or any major UK book retailer.
Read my review on the incredible Speak Up! here.