I read CherrySue's post where she wrote a letter to her 19 year old self and it was so moving and touching. I felt completely inspired to give it a go myself. This has taken me ages to write, I defy you to write something like this in one go!
Dear 19 year old me
Right now you're a year into your Science degree in UCD and drinking Guinness because it's the cheapest thing out there, what can you do, you're working in Dunnes and need to make your money stretch while also getting drunk! I know you want to leave college but Dad won't let you. He just wants you to be the first in the family to graduate from college and I'll put it this way, if you hadn't done the course, you wouldn't have met two of your best friends, Cliona and Kim. You will go to Ocean City Maryland this summer with your other two bessie mates, Caroline and Eileen and finally see New York for the first of many times.
You'll finish your degree but not know what to do and decide to move to Canada and get married there. After spending your teen years wanting to live outside of Ireland, you'll be so homesick and every morning you wake up, the first thing you'll do is look at the clock and calculate what time it is at home and wonder what everyone is doing. You'll come home every year for a holiday and it'll break your heart leaving everyone. There's only so many last-drinks with everyone you can do without having a nervous breakdown. You'll do a computer course in Ottawa and will become a computer genius, well, whizz-kid at least and forget it all two years later.
You'll get a cockapoo doggie in Canada, Bailey. He's a little brat and has the funniest personality and will be your best pal and you'll be with him longer than your husband. After 9 years of marriage, it won't work out. Telling mam and dad will be one of the hardest things you'll ever do but you will be astounded at how friends and friends of friends will offer their help to you. You'll have people like your brother's best friend offering you a free car and you'll see just how amazing people are. You'll be happy you stuck to your guns and didn't buy a house over the southside, you're a northsider through and through!
You'll spend so long living in someone's shadow that you won't have any faith or belief that you can do anything well and be good at anything. You'll be afraid to learn how to drive but you'll learn and see that you are well able and kick yourself for not learning sooner! You'll depend on him too much and lose your sparkle, but you'll get yourself back, maybe not the way you are now, but you'll get there. You'll see that you are good enough on your own. You'll be left with a massive mortgage but you'll be able to pay it yourself and have pride that you're not relying on your parents or spouse for anything. It'll be hard but you'll save and go on holidays and do it all yourself.
Dad will get sick and you'll learn everything there is to know about cancer, treatments, what he should and shouldn't eat and even though you're going through your own stuff with the separation, you'll feel like you have to be the one in control, the one that everyone is looking to and you'll suck it up and be the big sister and eldest child. Dad passing away will change you forever. You will remember every song that was on the radio going to and from the hospital in his last month. You'll go off lasagna after making a big batch to do everyone for dinners. You'll see that you could do the separation and divorce 10 times over compared to this. The family will literally fall to pieces after Dad's gone, I know it's hard to see that now because we're all so close right now, but there's nothing you can do about it. There's no point in me even going into it here because you won't believe it.
You'll work in Dublin Castle (I know!) for a few years and they'll be some brilliant years, what with 12 hour drinking binges with Ruth, mortifying Christmas parties and seeing The Tudors being filmed there, great craic altogether. You'll start working in the same hospital that you did you work experience in! You'll meet some of the funniest and most amazing girls ever that will help you through all of this. You'll see you were meant to be there, even if you are the most squeamish person you know and shouldn't be allowed in a hospital! You'll have some of the best laughs and will start to see the old you back again.
It's not all doom and gloom though 19 year old moi. You'll finally pluck up the courage to start a blog. What's a blog you say? Yes, they probably don't have them back then but basically, you know all that make up you currently own? Well, that stash will grow exponentially with all the trips to New York and you'll decide to start writing about it as a hobby. People will tell you you're good at it and it'll take you a while to believe them and you won't believe that readers come to visit every day and leave comments! About what you're writing! Starting the blog will change your life. You'll have a focus and a distraction and you will absolutely love it. You'll decide to call it Lovelygirliebits, I know, your rude sense of humour is still there all these years in the future. See, when you decide to call it that, you won't imagine having to actually say it out loud to people! Ah well, they won't forget it :)
Here's some advice from your future self
1. Don't eat so much in Canada due to homesickness, you'll put on so much weight and find it so hard to shift, you're the thinnest you've been in ages now.
2. Learn how to change a tyre on your car, it'll come in handy on January 16th, 2012.
3. Try to find a house with a smaller garden, you hate cutting the grass.
4. Don't dye the living daylights out of your hair, it's the nicest it'll ever be right now, you want the Rachel haircut but will be happy with the Phoebe.
5. Enjoy doing the Body For Life program with Stephen, it'll work and you'll both have great craic. Enjoy spending that time with him because you'll miss a lot in Canada, so file it all in the noggin.
6. When you bring mam and Joanne to New York the first time, don't go past Duane Reade's on the way back to the hotel on the first day. Mam will almost have heart failure after you spending months telling her how safe it is there, only for a lunatic to have gone on a stabbing rampage, yeah, course it happened then.
7. Listen to your gut, you're usually right.
So moi, you'll have a rollercoaster few years. Keep on smiling as best you can, you'll be grand. You're a funny fecker and you'll keep yourself laughing. And if not, your Twitter buddies will :)