Letter to my 16-Year-Old Self

The last couple of weeks, and my last couple of blog posts have cemented the fact that I am really proud of where I have got to in life. The last 9 months since LP arrived have been my happiest and I have been thinking often ‘If I knew then what I know now…’

So I have decided to write myself a letter, addressed to myself on my 16th Birthday.


Dear Donna,

Happy Birthday! Today you are 16. You had birthday money and bought yourself CDs – Alanis Morrissette Jagged Little Pill, Pink Mizunderstood, The Verve Urban Hymns, Mel C Northern Star. You love music, and the Alanis Morrissette album will be something you turn to over the next years any time you are feeling angst and any time you are upset. Turn it up loud, sing along and forget your problems. When you learn to drive that CD will never leave the car stereo.

You’ll spend today at an old people’s home. It’s a Tuesday and you’re on your second day of work experience. It’s not exactly how you wanted to spend your Birthday but don’t worry. You won’t end up working with old people. Just see it through, make the old people smile – the two weeks will fly by and they’ll love having you there. At 6pm tonight you’re going to a college open evening. You find out the Head of the college also has his Birthday today – and has had to spend it working! Your adult life is coming round fast isn’t it? Working on your Birthday! After that you’ll go to the Harvester. Don’t get the Nickerbockerglory – you can never eat it all and end up just mixing it all up in the glass. Also, at 16, they never seem as big as they did when you were 8.

You’ll end up signing up to that college. You’ll go there briefly when you’re nearly 17, and you’ll then sign up again to evening A Level courses, two consecutive years running when you’re 19 and 20. At the time you think that you need A Levels, that you can’t throw your education away. You get very stressed over it, you upset yourself and you worry. Please don’t worry. This summer you do well in your GCSE’s – even though you’ll have a lot going on at the time. Then, when you have to leave college, just leave. You’re not going to need A Levels in life. Rather than keep trying to get those A levels and dropping out each time, walk away from it and everything will still be fine.

It’s Christmas in 2 months. I can’t remember where you spend it, or what presents you got. All I know is it is the last Christmas you’ll spend as a family, the three of you. Treasure that Christmas, have a lovely dinner and spend some quality time with your parents. When you’re 27 and you look back at the Christmases that have gone by, there aren’t very many family ones that you’ll remember. Take more notice of this one.

Soon you’ll be having relationships, boyfriends, going out. Whatever happens, the next few years are irrelevant. You will meet someone, when you’re 19, who will love you for who you are. You’ll realise that before that point you didn’t know what love was and you definitely weren’t loved. But you’ll meet him and you’ll know that he is as good as they come. He doesn’t care where you’ve come from, where you’ve been, he only cares about where you’re going – together. He is a keeper. Jump into that relationship firmly with both feet and never let go. He will be your rock, your best friend. He will be there next to you through so much, and you will need him more than he will ever know. You will be perfect together.

In just over a year, when you’re 17, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads in life. Don’t worry. Drop out of college, work full time. Everything will be fine.

When you need somewhere to live, look in the Post Office window. There’s an advert for a room to let. Don’t worry about all the student accomodation places you will see, just rent this room. It may not be perfect, but it’s safe, a roof over your head, and the people there will care about you. You can stay there as long as you need to and again – everything will be ok.

When you have problems with your parents, walk away. Just leave them both to it for a while. In the end everything will work out for the best. You’ll have issues with your Mum next year. If the issues continue after a year then walk away – permanently. If you don’t walk away, the issues may taint parts of your whole adult life. Some people you cannot help. Walk away, be your own person.

Your Dad will move on but he will always be your Dad and will always be a part of your life. There are times you doubt whether he wants to be there at all, but he does. He’s been there since you were 18 months old and he will be there until he is old and grey. He loves you as if you were his own. Never doubt that.

You’ll end up having your biological father in your life. Don’t expect too much. He hasn’t got much to give, and he doesn’t know how to deal with you being around after so many years. It will take a very long time before there is a Donna shaped hole in his life again. It will come, but it will take time. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.

Your oldest Brother will never change. He will always be a a wrong’un. There is nothing you can do about that. Never lend him money – he’ll buy drugs with it. Never try to form a relationship with his girlfriends and his children, they’ll end up trying to make you feel bad. He was part of your life when you were a child. Then he went away for a few years. He came back when you were 13 and he’s away again now isn’t he? He’ll come back when you’re 19. Don’t meet up with him, don’t try to help him. Walk away. Like your Mother – there is no helping some people.

Your other Brother will always be very self sufficient. The most you’ll ever get for your Birthday is a text. But don’t worry. He loves you, he will always be there for you when you need him. But not buying Birthday cards is just the way he is. It will take a fair few years but you’ll end up living close to each other again. He moved away when you were 11 but later in life you’ll move and you’ll see each other regularly. For the next few years though you’ll see each other once a year. He has his own life, you have yours. One day you’ll feel like family again.

Work at Woolworths as long as you need to – it will pay your rent. But when an opportunity comes up, take it! You’ll work up the ranks in the new company and one day you might even be a Bank Manager. You’re laughing. I know, you want to be a vet, or a photographer, or a lawyer. Bank Manager? Yeah I know, it’s not what I would have chosen for you either, but it’s a good job, it will pay your mortgage. Yeah I know, mortgage?! Everyone you know has a council house. You’ll break the mould!

I would tell you about marriage, kids, houses. But to be honest, I don’t think you’d care. You’re 16!! Even talking about you being 21 seems so distant – it will come around before you know it!

For now, appreciate time with your parents. Revise for your GCSE’s but don’t worry about them too much – you’ve always been academic, you’ll do fine. Over the next couple of years just try and enjoy yourself. You’ll grow up far too early. Go out with your friends, have fun, get drunk and be a teenager.

Learn to drive as soon as you can but don’t get into too much debt. You’ll be paying it off until you’re 30! but make sure you enjoy life – if that means a little bit of debt then so be it – you’ll have a house and kids before you know it.

You’ll have one of the worst but best years of your life when you’re 19. Life will be horrible. You’ll have the worst 6 months you can ever imagine. But then, just when you feel that life can’t get any worse, you’ll meet someone new. As I said before, jump in with both feet! You’ll spend your 20th Birthday on a beach in the caribbean. I hear you laugh! You’ve never been on a plane, never been abroad, but trust me – by the time your teens are over you’ll be flying to the other side of the world!

Donna, before I go. Just remember. The world is at your feet. Live each day as best you can. Enjoy yourself and embrace life. No-one is a product of their past, they can be whoever they want to be and can achieve anything they want to. Put your mind to it and life will turn out just how you have always hoped!

Have a great Birthday!



3rd June 2012 – Aged 27

PS – I’ll write to you again when you’re 21, see how you’re doing.

Letter to my 16-Year-Old Self


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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