Graduate Trainee in Property Finance
Dear Younger Olivia,
You are now 23 and when you actually stop to realise how much you’ve achieved, overcome, challenged yourself and reflect upon what you’re currently doing, it’s pretty damn amazing.
Who would have thought a girl who had to give up their gymnastics career through injury, with the uncertainty of being able to participate in sport again; and a homework hating 11 year old would have graduated from a top five university with First Class honours, ran two marathon, is about to climb the world’s tallest mountain and is, as your friends will tell you; nailing it (or in your opinion, not doing too badly) at this whole ‘adulting’ thing.
Keep enjoying school. Continue to have an interest in everything you are learning and don’t take for granted the quality of your education. It may seem at times that information is irrelevant or pointless but it will all help to shape and mould the future you. Have fun with your friends, take part in that extra-curricular activity and don’t worry what other people think about you or what you do. Everyone is different and that is a good thing. Choose the GCSE’s and A Levels you enjoy and don’t worry that you don’t want to take stereotypical ‘academic’ subject. Just do you, you will always do better when you truly have an interest in it. You will decide early on that you want to go to Loughborough. Just from looking at the website you know this is where you want to end up. Set your sights on this and keep them there. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you aren’t worthy or good enough of a place. They will be lucky to have you.
“Stop worrying. You don’t need to have everything figured out and your life mapped out by the time you’re 16.”
It’s okay not to know whether you want to go down the creative or academic route at university. Just because teachers at school tell you it will determine the rest of your life, honestly it doesn’t. At 23, you are in a job you love and are looking forward to where it might take you. Just ride the wave.
Let yourself have fun. You need to learn that you can achieve academically and still enjoy your life. Don’t fall into the rut of putting academics first. Yes they’re important and as Nanny would always say ‘once you have your education, no one can take it away from you’ but long term, will A*s, As and marks over 70 make you truly, deeply happy? Definitely not, grades are not everything! Put your laptop away, go on that night out and make those memories, you will only look back and wish you had gone.
Walk away. When things don’t feel right, or make you miserable, it is time to move on. You will have friends who do wrong by you, which will make you question what or why you deserve to be treated in such a way but know that there is nothing wrong and quite simply they are jealous. You don’t need such negativity in your life. Leave the situation with your head held high, there are bigger and better things ahead with friends who will support you all the way. A small group of friends but ones who will always be there and this is what you will learn to love and cherish.
Your health is important. It may not seem like it now, but look after your body and your mind. Don’t be ignorant to your own mental health. Don’t think you are invincible or untouchable, mental health affects everybody, and it will affect you. Be prepared for the bad times that will come and for the people that don’t understand. Even now, if someone had told me that a doctor would have sat me down and said you’re having a breakdown at the age of 19, I would have dismissed it in a heartbeat. What 19 year old is going to have a breakdown? Not one where so many people flippantly say ‘I’m going to have a breakdown’ because they are temporarily stressed over exams or deadlines, a fully fledged period where you are the shell of the person you once were, vacant and oblivious to all that is happening around you, no drive or determination to achieve what you had previously set your heart upon and no thirst for life. Be prepared for the episodes of insomnia, the hours of crying uncontrollably on the floor because your chest is so tight and you can’t regulate your breathing, the days where you feel too nauseous to eat, too panicked to leave the house and too exhausted to leave your bed. Know that this will get better and that while it is one of the hardest things you have ever and probably will ever experience, know how strong you are and that slowly but surely you will start to see the light at the end the tunnel.
Talk. It is a hard lesson you will have to learn if you don’t begin to open up to people you trust. It is ok to talk about how you are feeling and to let people know that you are not ok. No one will think any less of you because of what you are going through, nor will it impact upon what you will achieve in your life. The people around you are there to support you, like you are to support them so utilise them. A problem shared is a problem halved and once it’s out in the open, it never seems as bad as it was in your head.
Be strong. You will go through times when everything just seems too much and you will feel like giving up. Don’t. Remember that any movement forwards is a step in the right direction. Try to get up. There will be days where you will be unable to leave your bed but at least try and shower, or get up and make your bed even if you spend the rest of the day on the sofa. Any small win shows you are not giving up, it’s still an achievement, give yourself credit.
Rest. You will always love to nap, but know that when you are exhausted it is ok to take a break. Cancel that gym class, rearrange seeing friends, switch off your phone and take time for just you. Listen to your body and your mind and when you need down time, take it. Lay on the sofa, sleep, go for a walk,
whatever you need, do it. Never feel like guilty, that you’re being unproductive or wasting time. A car can’t run without fuel and you can’t function properly without rest.
Being superhuman isn’t a thing. I don’t think you will ever fully believe this but you are allowed to not have everything together all the time. It is acceptable to have days when you aren’t on the go non-stop or are not an expert at the thing you are doing. You don’t always have to put on a front and showing emotions only makes you human. Don’t build those walls too high, allow people who care about you in, they won’t judge.
Keep being stubborn, ambitious and headstrong. Don’t take it to heart when people say you’re intimidating. You are not, they are just intimidated. All of those attributes will get you to where you want to be in the future.
Love. Love your friends and family unconditionally. Value the time you have with them and cherish the memories you make. Fully appreciate the love your friends and family have for you and know that this means they will always be there, through the good and the bad. Even now, you worry that you will never find someone to spend your life with, but you have seen snippets and glimmers that indicate that one day you will (…hopefully).
Be proud of who you are and all that you’ve been through. Don’t ever feel ashamed. Instead, look at all the incredible things you have done and the people you have positively impacted by sharing your own story. Not everyone will ‘get it’ and that’s okay, that is your opportunity to educate and learn to accept it yourself.
Trust that everything will eventually fall into place and you’ll end up doing what is meant for you. Yes, your older self still challenges this theory at times but when you take time to analyse where you are and how you got there, everything seems to make a lot of sense.
Don’t rush the process. No one is in a rush except you (most likely because you’re too impatient to wait to find out what happens next). Enjoy every step along the way, whether that be the highs or the lows and know that everything is a lesson and will help build the future you. Remember, the more you rush, the quicker everything will be over, and the more time you’ll spend wishing you could go back.
Be Happy. Know that grades, university offers, graduate jobs and living the stereotypical ‘successful’ life isn’t the be all and end all of everything. When people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, strive for one thing, strive to be happy.
Take good care of yourself,
Older you x