Dear 18 Year Old Kat,
Everything got better.
You’ll discover many things in your final year of secondary school. You’ll drink for the first time, kiss people, go to house parties and spend Saturdays wandering around the city. You’ll also fight with people, and fail class tests and feel low, but I promise it get’s better.
You passed your Leaving Cert. You got that B in English that you dreamed of thanks to a hell of a lot of reading and a little chat with Ms. Munnelly. That conversation outside the R.E room gave you back your spark. You fell out of love with writing, but don’t worry, it came back. Hold onto how you felt when it was announced to the class that your short story was the best, scoring 99%.
Your mind will be full of troublesome thoughts for quite some time, please don’t suffer in silence. Tell your parents. Tell your class tutor. Go see a counsellor. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Depression is common. Counselling will help, I promise.
Ignore the people who mock you for being shy. Being an introvert is part of who you are. You’ve yet to discover who you really are, but you will, and she’s not the worst person ever. Don’t let someone’s negative view of you impact your self esteem. I know it’s easier said than done, but you’re worth so much. Remember that.
Value the time you spend with your friends. You will meet some great people during your time in school, but friendships fall apart and people fight. Treasure every moment you have with these people. Dance at house parties. Ramble around the city centre. Wander around the local parks. Sit by the canal and natter about everything and anything. Waste your money on McDonald’s. Oh, and don’t be ashamed to talk about Glee, that show may have been cheesy, but it made you smile.
Please stop straightening your hair. Your brown curly hair is one of your best features. Also, you’re going to dip dye your hair blonde. Everyone will tell you it’s looks great, but trust me it’s hideous, please never do that again.
Stop arguing with your parents. Your Mam and Dad are two of the most amazing people on the planet. Tell them you love them every single day. Spend as much time with them as possible. Bring them out for dinner when you have the money. They have taught you so much and will support you every step of the way, even when you drop out of college.
Yes… in the future you’ll drop out of your Level 8 course, and it’ll be terrifying, however it’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Don’t worry, you’ll find your feet and discover two wonderful courses that you’ll adore. You’ll become features editor of your college newspaper too, and have work published, yes, really!
You’re going to fall in love. You’ll feel content and bright and merry. You’ll go on dates and mini holidays and share many kisses. Ignore the mushy rom-coms, love is complicated and stressful. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth will not have a fight over you, I’m sorry. You’ll suffer through a great heartache and a painful breakup, but I promise it’s not the end of the world. Your heart feels happy and full again.
Do the things that make you happy. I know it’s a cliche, but please follow your dreams. Write every single day. Read as much as you can. Go to the movies and to the beach and to bookstores and cafes by yourself, it’s scary but trust me it’ll help build your character. Be goofy and embrace your pasty pale skin. Buy coffee from local cafes, because Starbucks may seem cool but their coffee tastes like dishwater. Go on holidays with your dearest friends, even if you’re struggling with money. Learn how to use a washing machine and eat more fruit. Visit your grandparents more. Drink water on nights out if you want to. Stay away from cigarettes. Wear whatever makes you feel confident, even that silly bowler hat you’re currently obsessed with.
Remind yourself that the dark days aren’t permanent, things will get better, I promise.
22 year old Kat.