#DearTeenMe – Karina Banno

We asked Karina and Raechelle Banno, twin sisters and actors from Sydney, to connect with their childhood, reflect on their teen years, and write a letter offering support to their 15-year-old selves. You might know these talented twins from TV commercials, film productions, and Raechelle playing Olivia in Home and Away. The girls describe themselves as ‘wombmates’ and share a bond that is unspoken, knowing each other even better than they know themselves. Here are Karina's words to her teen self.

Dear 15-year-old Karina,

I hope you can read this through your oily, sweeping side fringe. If not, don’t worry – you’ll soon become comfortable with your forehead enough to let the bangs grow out. Take your time.

So if I remember correctly, you’re SUPER into Transformers right about now; gearing up for soccer training; and also currently in a deep dive of your latest textiles assessment. Great – this is right where I need you to be. And where you need to be too.

Looking at you now, you’re doing good, kid. You don’t shy away from grabbing hold of the things you love and taking them to the maximum. You spend hours at Spotlight picking the perfect fabric for that dress you’re making in class (not to mention the hours glued to Nannie’s sewing machine at home) but you also dedicate excessive energy towards scrapbooking the hell out of any theoretical stuff, too. While some teachers may tell you it wasn’t necessary to go that extra mile, I just want to remind you not to lose that drive to enjoy all the elements. You’ll learn in your own time where that energy is needed. But right now, you care, and that’s beautiful.

Although when it comes to boys, you’re still in the ‘I hope he’ll finally like me’ stage. And I’m sorry to report… you’re likely to be there for a few more years. And I’m even sorrier (I don’t know if that’s a word, but take it from your future ‘wiser’ self, words aren’t your strong suit and that’s OK) to say that the guy… the guy… isn’t going to ever like you back. You might not believe me, but this disappointment is the beginning of a steep learning curve, one that will take you to a greater appreciation for yourself and the roles you’ll play in other people’s lives. Believe it or not, there will come a time when you discover that what your crush thinks doesn’t matter. And only then will you be able to enjoy the imperfect messiness of you. And you’ll realise that those are actually the things someone will love you for. Sounds weird, but go with me here, OK?

Also, I wish I could warn you of some scary words that will become a part of your everyday existence. But I’ve thought about it, and I think you learning the hard way is actually the only way to do it. Remember what I said about things being messy? Yeah, it’s unpleasant. You’re going to hate it. But it’s also the key for you to find your people… and yourself.

OK! You of all people know you don’t like being left out of the loop, so I’ll tell you: Anxiety and Depression. Sounds big, right? And they are. But don’t feel you need to get a head start understanding them. I’m still learning about them both, daily, and it’s really challenging. But like I said… not now. Just enjoy this sweet, sweet prelude.

Now, a quick word about your career because I love how you’re probably busting to go to the toilet in maths right now but are more worried about how all this schooling is getting in the way of your career as an actor. The doors will open and close, which you’ll get better at coping with. But you’ll discover windows, too, and only you have the key. You’ll come to understand you actually don’t have a career; you have a life.

Finally, some things to look out for because I don’t want you to miss them:

  • Get on that plane.
  • Consume all the movies and TV; they’ll take you away and bring you back, every time.
  • The sewing, the knitting, and the crochet will come back. Welcome them.
  • Keep an eye out for a little black spoodle. She’ll save you. In more ways than one.

Hope you didn’t roll your eyes too much reading this. It’s easy for me to articulate all this now that I’m older: after all, now I have 2020 vision.

Love your future (messy) self, Karina

Find out more about Karina’s world on Instagram @karinabanno

Read Raechelle Banno’s letter to her teen self here.

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