#DearTeenMe – Raechelle Banno

We asked Raechelle and Karina 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 Raechelle's words to her teen self.

Dear 15-year-old Raechelle,

If I remember correctly, you feel like you’re floating right now. You feel like you’re a person who doesn’t really exist. You’ve built a tough shell for yourself. You had to – this year, especially. The thing about shells, you see, is that they protect you from the scaries of the outside world, but they also shield you from its beauties, too.

I know you ‘don’t do’ uncertainty, but in a while, you’ll start to see that you’re far more brave than you currently think. Don’t get me wrong, you’re gonna get hurt along the way, but stick with me!

You were recently betrayed. You feel very small, very lonely, and very scared. Feel all of those things. They are valid. This is not the last time this will happen. Feel what you need to when your hero tells you you’re not good enough. When you first step into an industry you dreamed about for as long as you can remember and it begins with a conversation about your weight. These things will play on your mind far longer than they should for a healthy, hard-working, talented young woman. These things will unfortunately happen, and you will be stronger because of them. How?

You already have the tools you need. Some you don’t even realise you have, and others will only need a simple dust-off before you can use them. Your biggest tool? Mummy. She taught you how to listen, love, and to not take yourself too seriously. She also brought you into the most supportive family that really comes in handy – especially when you’re working on productions in faraway countries (yes that really happens, too!). You’ll soon learn to ask people for help: professionals, loved ones – and you’ll read the works of wise strangers as you learn to enjoy learning about yourself. Oh, how reading makes your life sparkle.

Along the way, you will gather some precious people. They will teach you things, valuable things. How the word ‘no’ is a full sentence. That quality, not quantity, matters in almost all areas in life. That you’re silly. That you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves (even though you will try for longer than necessary). That creativity is a superpower. That as valid as they are, your feelings are not facts. That nature is your friend. That cats can change your life. That the intelligence, humour, fortitude, and audacity of women is the world’s most valuable asset, and yours.

These precious people will teach you that you are more loveable than you let yourself believe right now. And speaking of love, we both know you have love on the brain. You’re still the biggest romantic I know – this is not a bad thing! Because love plays a big part in your life. It’s in everything you do, and it’s got your back every step of the way, I promise you. Spoiler: it’s when you show your most vulnerable self that you will receive more love than you thought possible.

I know you don’t feel like you’re on any particular path right now, but you are – and it’s the right one. So when you’re 22 and get a phone call from your agent on a cold train ride home from an office job you’re scared you’ll have forever, just know her words will change your life. It will bring you an opportunity that will terrify you, challenge you, bring you some of the most meaningful friends of your life, along with something else: your voice. You’re gonna find it, and boy do you have a lot to say.

There’s a lot more to tell, but I want you to experience it just like I did: with all the scary feelings of not knowing what lies ahead. Teen me, I believe in you and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Except the perm. Don’t get the perm. You won’t look like Sarah Jessica Parker in Season 5 of Sex and the City. I promise you.

Love always,

Future Raechelle xx

Find out more about Raechelle’s world on Instagram @raechellebanno

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

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