Don’t be afraid to let them show (your true colours…)

“How long is it to Christmas? I’m simply longing to come home and see everybody.”

“Also I shan’t object if you engage to see I get to some dances at Christmas. I wonder if I’ll be home for the Lady Mayoress’ Ball. I do hope so.”[1]

Dear Amy,

We can all relate to a time of counting down the days until a holiday, a term ending, a Christmas. In my mind, the older I get the less I wish the time away in life. Each day has the potential to be a good day. In each day, we can find so much to be mindful of. At this time in your life, often with the weight of the world on your shoulders, it is hard to see into the future. At this time, I don’t think you know just what you are capable of achieving, Amy.

“I’ll spend this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow morning over cramming Economic History, and then empty it all out tomorrow afternoon. Please pray for me hard at 2 o clock.”[2]

“I’ve failed in French. I’ve never failed before, and it’s a horrid feeling. Miriam has as well, but Gwyneth (the one you saw on Monday night) hasn’t. She’s awfully clever.”[3]

I believe, in our youth, we are conditioned to believe in some way our future achievements need to get less interesting. Trans-generational advice tells us to ‘find something sensible to do with our lives.’ It was no different back then was it Amy? Which is how you have come to find yourself at Sheffield University, studying Economics. When really, I don’t think you knew what you wanted to do. Back then, one had to follow a ‘traditional’ path – anything else would be frowned upon…which you’ll come to fight against, one day in your future!

“I shall be busy as we’re having exams. The last week on which our future fate depends.”[4]

Why must we strive for the predictable, stable future? We are only given one life, one chance to find our true self. Yes, in today’s money-fuelled society we need to be realistic. But the things we love and the things that make us human don’t necessarily have to be the same things that help us to pay our bills. However long it takes to find, one day, you will stumble upon a dream. Hang onto it. (And you really do, Amy).

“That they get bored with childhood, they rush to grow up and then long to be children again”

“That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health.”

“That by thinking anxiously about the future, that they forget the present, such that they live neither in the present or the future.”

“That they live as if they will never die and die as if they had never lived.”[5]

Amy Johnson letters used with kind permission of Hull Local Studies Library, Hull History Centre


Youth Connexions Hertfordshire “Young people in the Three Rivers District say ‘it’s OK to be happy!’”‘it’s-ok-to-be-happy!’/

Cyndi Lauper: True Colours


[1] Johnson, communication with Arregger [Letter]. 29 October 1922

[2] Johnson, communication with Arregger [Letter]. 2 June 1925

[3] Johnson, communication with Arregger [Letter]. 17 January 1923

[4] Johnson, communication with Arregger [Letter]. 3 December 1922

[5] Lachard (Brown), no date

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