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“Dude, it will be okay”. An open letter to teenage boys, from a bunch of guys in their 20s.

A few weeks ago, I collected snippets of advice from all my girlfriends about what they might like to say to their 16-year-old self. The open letter was published on International Women’s Day 2022 and was phenomenally-well received by all but one.

The one in question is a teenage boy I mentor once a week in Beijing, China. While he thought that the advice shared in the letter was great for his female friends, he felt he was lacking guidance, direction, and clarity … that things would all work out okay in the end. He wanted to hear it from a bunch of men in their 20s, just as my female students had heard it from a bunch of women in their 20s.

In 2019, the Economist labelled Gen Z (those born between 1997 to 2012) as “stressed, depressed and exam-obsessed”. An eerily precise label, it seems teenagers today need ever more reassurance that things will work themselves out.

So boys, here you go: a bunch of advice from a group of brilliant guys in their 20s. I’m going to squeeze in this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all those who contributed to this open letter; your feedback is immensely appreciated.