How to have a fabulous life: Ignore trends, listen to your inner voice, don’t always expect to be happy


Dear Adeline,

With your mother’s brains, you’ll be able to read this by the time you’re two. Still, I ask my inspirational niece—an aficionado of words and opinions—to tuck it away until you’re 18 and ready to smash it in the world.

Kate Halfpenny with her great niece, Adeline.

Kate Halfpenny with her great niece, Adeline.

You, little corker of a girl, were born in Queensland in 2020 during lockdown so we’ve met only once. I didn’t get to whisk you off and share my great aunt secrets to having a fabulous life, so I’m doing it now. It’s not my job to help shape your moral or fiscal codes so these are fun, mostly shallow and guaranteed to work. Right, let’s go.

Ignore fashion and homewares trends. Your taste is all that counts. Buy secondhand clothes and expensive shoes. You’ll be memorable and save heaps of money. I’m writing this in a 1970s leopard print knit, black jeans from the Salvos ($12) and royal blue Isabel Marant boots.

Be yourself. Not everyone will like you. Fine—you won’t like everybody. Let go of the past or it will become a narrative that shapes the future. Understand there’s no such thing as decisions. You’ll always know what you need to do if you honour your inner voice, not anyone else’s.

Your body is a perfect self-diagnosing, self-healing computer that needs to house you for eight or so decades. Listen to it carefully, your life depends on it. Respect red flags. Give it what it wants: a cheeseburger, a nap, vodka, 5km run. Don’t link guilt or shame to any of it.

Don’t expect to always be happy. With life comes some sadness.

Don’t expect to always be happy. With life comes some sadness.

Love at first sight absolutely exists. When it happens—people, food, a place—grab and cherish it. If you have to convince yourself you’re a match, the thing or person is not for you. Move onto your heart’s desire. Pledging to be with one person forever in marriage is the most daring risk you can take. If you do, protect it by knowing intimate conversations with someone else are more dangerous than anything else.

Keep secrets. If you tell one person anything, they’ll tell someone and soon 300 people are in on your private stuff. As an adult, the burden of the secret is better than the anxiety about who knows.