I have spent quite some time thinking about what this term holds for our school, and what I want to write to our community. There is much social change in our country that is relevant to our thinking and planning. The end of the year also brings heightened anxiety about final examinations and academic achievement. I stumbled upon the following letter while reflecting on these issues and challenges. It reminded me that our girls not only have to grapple with social change, but this time of adolescence holds personal development that is painful and difficult to navigate. We should not forget that although our girls may seem mature and capable, forming their identity and finding inner strength are difficult journeys to travel.
This letter to a younger self captures some of what the journey is about.
My dear young Bonnie
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to write this letter to you. Firstly, I want you to know that you are perfect just the way you are. Of course, there are some rough edges that need smoothing, but this will happen, organically, as you journey through life. You don’t have the greatest of friends right now, but (thankfully) that is going to change and you’ll learn to surround yourself with people who love, support and bring out the best in you.
You’re trying so hard (too hard in my opinion) to fit in with this group; to be acknowledged and accepted; to be seen; but you’ll come to realise that they won’t see you until you are able to accept yourself. Real transformation always begins on the inside.
Don’t ever doubt that you have a special purpose and reason for existing. It’s easy to question everything you believe in, especially when you feel like your judgment is clouded by negativity, but I’m here to tell you that there is so much more in store for you.
You have a tendency to obsess about doing the right thing, which you won’t lose as you get older, but I want to assure you that your desire for the truth will be your most sure compass and will lead you to valuable life lessons.
Remember, the world owes you nothing. You’ve got to work hard for the things you want, believe in yourself and fight to stay positive, despite the inevitable disappointments and failures.
Bonnie, you have so much potential, and you’ll do a great many things, but you must learn to forgive – both yourself and others. Setting such a high standard of perfection isn’t realistic or attainable and it will lead to more disappointment than success.
Acting is clearly what you were born to do, so continue to nurture that gift. And here’s a tip I hope you’ll remember when you give your Oscar acceptance speech: try not to cry too much. The whole world will be watching and you wouldn’t want them to remember your quivery lip instead of your heartfelt thanks.
So, in closing, let me urge you to travel as much as you can, never lose your love for reading, and always keep your school motto, Veritas (truth), in mind. The truth really will set you free.
Bonnie Henna is a wife, mother and actress. She was discovered at the age of 13 and has been acting ever since. If she could change one thing about her youth, it would probably be her peroxided hair.
Head of school