Skirting the Issue - An open letter to my 16-year-old self

As my 35th birthday passed this week, and I noticed a few more crow’s feet around my eyes and how certain body parts are definitely on a downward trajectory I have decided to take the lead from a recent trend online for people to write letters to their 16 -year-old selves, imparting the wisdom and advice that only comes with age.

Dear Me,

I’m sorry about the perm. I thought it was a good look at the time but clearly, looking back I realise I have made you look like an eejit. I won’t do it again. Honest. Over the years we’ll try various hair dyes and hair styles and there will be a really rather bad bleaching incident in your early 30s but I’ll never make you endure a perm again.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on with the more important stuff.

1) Don’t study too hard. I know that may go against the grain, but it really is true. All work and no play will make you relatively dull. Go out more. Live a little. Enjoy yourself because the time will come when you will actually be too old to get away with walking into a nightclub without looking like a very sad cougar.

2) On the occasions you do party like it’s 1999, remember to take it easy and drink a lot of water at some stage in the evening. Never think that fifth Drambuie is a good idea. Your carpet won’t thank you for it.

3) Don’t stop dancing. I don’t mean ever, but I mean when you take those dance lessons in your mid 20s, keep at it. You were quite good at it. And you enjoyed it. It also allowed you to have a waist. You will miss you waist.

4) You know that boy you spend your entire university career pining over? He’s not worth it. In fact he turns out to be a bit of a *insert appropriate swear word which can’t be used in a family newspaper here*. And when he asks you to help him with his coursework, say no.

He isn’t actually doing it because he secretly loves you back. He’s doing it because he is too lazy to do it himself.

5) Smile more. You really do have a lovely smile.

6) See that Celine Dion phase you go through when you are 18 - don’t worry. It’s not fatal and it will pass.

7) Lycra isn’t and never will be your friend. Accept it and move on.

8) Spend more time with your grandad. He won’t always be around - I know he seems invincible but he’s not. He’ll always be a presence in your life though - so try not to worry too much. It will be tough but you’ll get through it.

9) You know that Teri Hatcher/ Lois Lane obsession you have? You’ll make it as a journalist but Dean Cain/ Clark Kent will never work in your office.

10) Stop stressing about leaving school and all your friends. You’ll stay in touch with them and you’ll be there at their weddings and to cuddle their babies and share a (legal) drink with them from time to time. If time passes where you don’t see them don’t panic. When you get together again you’ll be able to drop into easy conversation as if no time at all has passed.

11) You know that sister who gets right on your nerves? Yes. Her! The popular one? There will come a time when you stopping battering seven shades of the proverbial out of each other and become best friends. She will even be chief bridesmaid at your wedding. I know! Mad, isn’t it?

12) You know that other sister? The one that REALLY annoys you? You’ll find you have more in common with her than you think and you will share many strange and emotional moments together as you venture into motherhood. (I’m telling you now, just so you can look forward to it, there will be a day when your newborn son both pees and poops all over her. It’s okay to laugh - it’s one of the funniest things you will ever see).

13) Your parents will become your heroes again. Fact. You’ll realise how cool they are.

14) Look where you are going when you step out of cars/walk down stairs/climb over small walls. You are accident prone. Pay more attention!

15) Travel more. There’s a world outside of BT48 and you will have time enough for weekends in Donegal and breaks close to home.

16) It’s okay to want to wear comfortable shoes and a raincoat with a hood. This does not make you uncool - this makes you sensible.

17) You will get a tattoo. Yes. Really.

18) Becoming a mammy will be the most terrifying experience of your life but it will also be amazing.

19) Don’t worry when you don’t fall instantly in love with the wee creature when they lie on your tummy. It will happen and boy, when it happens, it is something else. Wow! That’s all I’m saying.

20) Yes. You’ll have a daughter some day too. And she will complete you.

21) Trust your instincts. Not with the man from university, obviously, but you know that bloke you meet at Mandi’s 21st birthday party? Give him a chance. It might just be worth it.

22) Believe in yourself. I do.

Much love, Me x