Friday, January 20, 2012

A letter to 19 year old me


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 :)
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30 comments

  1. Great post, very brave if you well done

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  2. Aw K, this is a really touching post - how have you managed to come through so much and keep such a fantastic outlook on life intact?! xo

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  3. Wow. This was an extremely touching post. You have gone through so very much!! You are a very strong person!

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  4. That was a lovely post to read, your very strong X

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  5. Such a fab post! fair play to you for writing it and for your great attitude despite the heartache and tough times x

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  6. LOVED this, brilliant! I'm not even 19 yet though, so I'll have to wait a few years to do mine haha!

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  7. Amazing post, brought a tear to my eye! Xx

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  8. I have only one word for you and that is AWESOME. And in future i love to see your new post. Thanks for sharing

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  9. Brilliant post. It brought a tear to my eye.

    I must admit when i seen the tweet alerting me to this I thought "another one of those dear19 yr old me" spiels. But I decided to read your piece as I love this blog and my mind was changed.
    I won't be as quick to write off these type of posts in future. (I read Cherry Sues too and loved that also!)

    The part about your Dad dying also made me realise that I'm not alone. Our family was blown apart by the death of my dad 4yrs ago. I'm only really emerging from "the fog" that descended rapidly after his death.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope the rest of your life brings you everything you desire xx

    Rachelle :)

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  10. Ah Karen, what a brilliant post.

    I must admit that it brought a tear to my eye and then I got to the advice from your future part and it made me chuckle, esp the bit about getting a smaller garden and learning how to change a tyre.

    You are definitely a strong person and I'm glad to see that your positive outlook on life and your sense of humour have remained intact.

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  11. :) What a lovely post! Have a lump in my throat after reading it. Thank for sharing this with us.

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  12. ah karen this is lovely. I actually can't remember being 19 - fair play!

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  13. Amazing post Karen, must have been so hard to write. Mucho respect for all you've achieved and for putting it out there. X

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  14. Great post, if I knew then what I know now I'd do the same again.xxx

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  15. Thanks so much for the shout out, Lady. You're very kind.

    What a beautiful post, so brave and personal. I welled up just after the cheap booze sessions and am still deeply touched now.

    It's so hard to write like this but I'm hoping you've found it as cathartic as I did.

    You're genuinely one of the funniest, most genuine people I've met through this blogging malarkey and this only makes me appreciate you more.

    Well done ma Cherie x

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  16. Beautifully written. Definitely brought tears to the eyes. love your blog and love your writing x

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  17. Amazing post, it must have taken a lot to write this - brought a tear to my eye too, you're a very strong lady and you should be so proud of yourself x

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  18. Brilliant post! It made my eyes water. It must have been really hard to write so huge respect for doing it.

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  19. I admired you before, and even more now that I read this letter Karen.
    Keep your chin high, and only good things will happen to you now!

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  20. Lads, thanks so much for all the comments, I read the first two at work and started welling up so had to wait till I came home :) I had no idea that people would actually read and be touched by this. I wasn't even sure I was going to post it, I had it scheduled to go up this morning, then took it down, then said, feck it, and up it went.

    Thank you ladies.

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  21. Karen, all I can say is fair fecking play! An incredibly honest and touching post - I've seen two families close to me so sad and upset after losing their daddies - makes me appreciate mine all the more... I also need to learn how to change a tyre too but while I've recovery lark on my insurance I won't bother ... x

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  22. Karen, some of that is far too close to home for me. And I truly appreciate that you were brave enough to address some topics that will sadly affect us all - I haven't lost a parent but I did lose my father in law 6 months after we married & it is horribly familiar. To be rude about it, fair fucks to you for getting back on the horse and rebuilding your life. You should be very proud. Axxx

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  23. Brilliant post Karen, so touching yet made me smile too. You brave lady x

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  24. Brilliant, touching, moving, funny and clever basically you in post form

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  25. The part about your dad made me cry. Amazing post xxx

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  26. This is so lovely Karen. You know that all the bad stuff has created a truly lovely and wonderful person don't you? You might have turned out simply horrible if life was easy :D xx

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  27. I never read / comment on blogs purerly due to lazziness...but that has changed today ,thanks to you karen....all i can say now is keep blogging and sky will be the limit!

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  28. I never read / comment on blogs purerly due to lazziness...but that has changed today ,thanks to you karen....all i can say now is keep blogging and sky will be the limit!

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  29. Fantastic post. You're brill...nuf said

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