Dear Younger Me,
Today it is 1st June 2018. Today we turn 24! (How crazy is that?!) I hardly feel like we’re adulty enough to be able to be classed as an adult. It wasn’t an easy road to get here, not by any means, but we’ve made it, and we have learned a lot. Obviously, we still have an awful lot to learn. But here are some pieces of advice, 24 things I’ve learned, that I’d like to share with you.
- You’ll be an only child for the first two years of your life, and you won’t remember any of it. Don’t worry when people tell you to “stop talking for your little sister” because soon enough she’ll start talking and will talk so much that you won’t get a word in – enjoy talking while you can!
- While we’re talking about our sister, there will be times when you won’t get on like you should, but she will be one of the best friends you will ever have. You’ll find it hard when she moves away to university. Please don’t lose touch.
- Our middle name is Ann, after our Nan-Nan. You won’t like it at first because you’ll think it’s a “Granny name”, and you’ll feel bitter after watching Anne of Green Gables because you’re an Ann without an e. But you will get over it, and grow to love it, because you share the name with one of the most incredible women you’ll ever know.
- We were born in Sheffield – you’ll live there until you’re nine, and you will call it “Stinky Sheffield”. You’ll maybe even think it the worst place on earth at some point. But you will move, and you will miss it, even pine after it. Appreciate your hometown. But, you’ll move back there at age 21, and you’ll never want to leave.
- You will move house…more than once. You will live in Northern Ireland for 12 years – it will be a long 12 years, and a hard 12 years, but it won’t all be bad. You’ll meet one of the best friends we’ll ever have. You’ll learn what it means to be homesick. As a family, you’ll face the toughest things, but you will come out closer and stronger for it. It’ll feel like the bad times will never end, but they will. They always will.
- While we’re on the topic of family – there really is no place like home. Your Mum and Dad will be two of the best friends you’ll ever have. They’ll be your biggest supporters and loudest cheerleaders. They’ll be shoulders for you to cry on, and open arms for you to run in to. Love them, appreciate them, give them your time.
- Honour your parents. God really had our safety in mind when He wrote that commandment. You know Mum…she’ll get you if you don’t.
- School will be hard. You’ll be glad to finish it. But even though it’s hard, cherish it while you’re there. Realise how fortunate you are to have education available to you so easily. Expand your mind, take it all in, and use the knowledge you gain there for good. It will also be hard to be a Christian in school, and even harder in university – it won’t be popular. It will be made fun of, and it will be ridiculed. But please, stick with it. Hold your ground. Lean on God. Trust in Him. It will be so worth it, and you’ll be so glad you did.
- You’ll graduate…and you’ll graduate TWICE! They will be two of your proudest achievements to date. And you will be the first in your maternal family to graduate. Mum will cry, Dad will cheer so loudly that you hear him from the stage as you collect your degree, and your sister will laugh at you because “you walk so weird!”. Your Grandparents will see you graduate the second time, and they’ll claim they weren’t crying, but you and I both know that they were.
- You will have the rare opportunity to live with your Grandparents when you move back to Sheffield. This time will be precious. Cherish the time with them. Listen to them, talk with them, always make time for them. Let them tell their stories, ask them about their lives, and don’t take this time with them for granted.
- In the week running up to your 24th birthday, you will experience grief like you’ve never known it before. You will feel truly heartbroken for the second time in your life. You won’t want to get out of bed. You won’t feel like yourself. But this will make you strong. You will learn things about yourself that you never knew. You will surprise yourself through how you handle it, and you will be reminded of just how strong the members of your family really are.
- Don’t fall to the pressure of trying to keep up with everyone else. You don’t have to work to someone else’s timeline. Everyone’s story is different. I’ll be honest, on our 24th birthday, you’ll feel like you’re not really where you thought you’d be in life. But that’s okay! You’ll learn how to be content with that.
- You’ll fall in love at age 5…with theatre. And you’ll fall head over heels for musicals. Don’t let anyone tell you that’s not cool. This love for theatre will shape the career you choose to pursue – go for it! And don’t let anyone deter you!
- You will also get a job in a theatre…in Sheffield (I’ll let that sink in while it blows your little mind, younger me!) You will also get to act, direct, and write theatre, and you will even take one of the scariest steps of your life and set up your own theatre company. How cool are you?!
- You’ll also be a bookworm. You will LOVE books. Mum and Dad will call you Matilda, you’ll love them that much. I’ll give you a heads up – university will sort of ruin reading for you just for a little while, but you will learn to love it again.
- The Bible will be the most important book you ever read. Please read it. And read it every day. It will be a manual for you. It will be your teacher. And it will be your comforter. Read it, know it, believe it.
- You will love giving people things. For you, gift giving will always beat receiving one, hands down, every time.
- You will also love hugs, because a hug from someone you love makes things better.
- In the words of Elf, “smiling’s my favourite” – ours too! Smiles cost nothing. Be sure to give them out in abundance every day.
- A few solid, grade A friends are better than a lot of mediocre ones. Treasure your grade A friends – they are the ones that will stick around for a lifetime.
- The best kind of friends are the ones who, if you haven’t seen them for a long period of time, pick back up from where you left it, and it’s like you were never apart.
- Always tell people they are loved and valued. If you’re proud of someone, tell them. If they did a good job, tell them. If you have anything nice to say at all about someone, tell them! Don’t let kind, heartfelt, genuine words go unsaid.
- You’ll apply for a few things in our first 24 years. You won’t get them all. And you’ll be disappointed. But when you don’t get that job, or that opportunity doesn’t come your way, it’s for a reason – you’ll soon realise that sometimes it’s because God is protecting you from something that wouldn’t be good for you. Trust in His goodness and faithfulness, even when you’re disappointed.
- God always has a plan – and one that is better than any that you, or I, might have. He knows best. Trust in His plan. Place your life in His hands. And live your life for God’s glory. Do that, and you’ll be on to a winner.
You’ve got this, younger me. Keep pressing on. Keep being you. Don’t ever change. You’re doing great. And I’ll try to do a good job for us both! I’m rooting for you!