It’s me, your 35 year-old self, coming to you from ten years in the future. It’s pretty cool here right now and I can tell you you have a LOT to look forward to over the next decade. And a lot to learn too, which is why I’m here..
Yesterday I had breakfast with one of my (our? Sorry, I don’t know how this Future/Past self thing works) past team members. She’s 24, has a kickass new job and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
I found myself dispensing little snippets of the things I’ve learned since I was her age, and it got me to thinking about what I’d tell you, 25 Year Old Lorraine, if I got to have breakfast with you. Well time travel hasn’t been invented just yet, so instead I’ll need to make do with writing this letter.
You’ve done some brilliant things over the last ten years Lorraine – you really should be so very excited about what’s to come. There are also some things I think we could have done better, sooner or not done at all. This isn’t about regrets – you and I try to avoid having them. But we’re going to be 36 soon and I wanted to reflect a little on you, me and all the bits in between.
First off, let’s talk about work.
Work your arse off. You have so much energy. You can drink cheap Iceland sauvignon blanc in your London sharehouse till 2am and get up with a perfectly clear head for work the next morning. Use this to your advantage. You can get so much done, it scares me to think about it. You have so much time. And believe me: YOU ARE NOT TIRED.
You’ll have some truly great bosses. Tell them this as they don’t know how much they have helped you unless they’re told. Ask them a shitload of questions – they may find it mildly irritating, but mostly they’ll be flattered.
Make yourself as visible as possible in the companies you work at. You’re rather good at this and it makes you look a lot more important than you actually are. Put your hand up for new projects, get involved in new initiatives and working groups. They’re a great way to get to know people in other teams, and to get you noticed.
Don’t wait for permission – get on with whatever it is you want to do and beg forgiveness later if you piss someone off. You’ll piss a lot less people off than you think. Whether it’s improving a process at work, going into the office on a Saturday to clear the unending stack of media coverage that needs to be scanned in, or asking a journalist for breakfast – just do it and say sorry later.
Go to your boss with suggestions and ideas. You don’t realise it right now, but it can be really fucking exhausting being a boss (you’ll get lots of practise at this in future) and it can be so damn refreshing when someone else comes up with an idea. Even if they get refused, bring the ideas anyway. Big hint here: bosses obsess about culture, so anything you can do to help your team will be especially gratefully received.
Very soon, you’ll see that Anita Roddick (founder of The Body Shop) is speaking at the British Library. You’ll ask your big boss Anna if the team can go, and a gang of you will go and hear Anita’s inspiring words. Afterwards, Anna will take you and a couple of other junior burgers out for a fancy dinner. You’ll drink organic English wine and feel like the most important person in the Universe.
This night would never had happened if you didn’t go to Anna with your idea. Anita Roddick will pass away very soon at only 64 years of age – so you were lucky to see her speak. Oh and just in case you haven’t realised yet, Anna is one of The Great Bosses and you’ll strive to be like her for the rest of your life as a leader.
That you were born a girl makes piss-all difference to what you go on to do in your career. Guess what? You’ll even have your own business one day! I KNOW!! Focus on doing your best work, taking chances and surrounding yourself with great people and the rest will look after itself.
Don’t wait for someone else to develop your career for you. It’s your responsibility and yours alone. Get to it!
Take feedback – you’re learning this around now and your ability to take feedback will be a huge asset to you in future. Don’t get defensive. Don’t get offensive. Take it for what it is and work on improving yourself. Just don’t take onboard feedback from people you don’t respect. You’ll come to value the ability to take feedback highly in your future team members – and it’ll be something you will actively hire for.
Always be thinking about where you want to be in five years’ time – and start doing the things that that person would be doing. Whether that’s being a confident handler of clients, a confident presenter… Get moving on those skills sooner rather than later – as they may take longer than you think to master.
You’ve got a special superpower at building relationships in business. Keep that shit up as it will serve you bigtime in future. Two simple principles here: do what you say you’ll do and don’t be a wanker.
Travel. I’ll say it again: travel. And again: travel. You are on the doorstep of all of Europe with four international airports within an hour of you. This is the peak of the Ryanair/Easyjet cheap flights race – capitalise on it. You can deal with much lower standards of accommodation than you think you can – the important thing is to travel.
Keep your living expenses low. In a couple of years’ time, you’ll hit a sweet spot where you can live reasonably comfortably on your salary and still save a bit of money. Keep that sweet spot for as long as you can, as life will get very expensive in future. Oh and cut up your credit card even sooner than you do.
I know you love to read, however you should think about upgrading the books you’re reading. There’s a whole world of authors out there who have gone to the trouble of capturing the greatest lessons of their lives… and they’re probably sitting in Brixton library just a couple of streets away from you right now! You’ll develop an appetite for books that change your life in future, but it might be an idea to start thinking about them now so you can experience their lessons sooner.
Speaking of appetites, you have a great one. I do think you should start to think about nutrition more though. I have a sneaking suspicion that the spotty skin that drives you nuts may be closely linked to the afternoon coffee and M&S chocolate biscuits that live in your desk drawer. Just an idea…
Oh and stop taking the Pill – you’ll learn more about the impact it has in future and believe me, you don’t need to be putting that stuff into your precious body.
Get stoned. In a few short years, you’ll be thinking about making babies – and feeding babies. So try weed now – and send me a postcard into the future to tell me what it was like. I know you don’t like the feeling of being out of control, so do it at home with people you trust – and open the windows so you don’t stink the house out please.
You don’t realise this yet, but you’re a raging introvert. That’s why you tend to be the first person to end the night and why your long Saturday morning walk from Tower Bridge to London Bridge makes you feel so happy. It’s no biggie, lots of the coolest people you’ll meet in future are introverts too.
Get up earlier. I know this sounds batshit crazy, but you don’t actually need to be the one racing into the office ten minutes late every single morning, hoping that no one notices you. You don’t actually need to sleep until 7.30am and hit the snooze button three times. You can get up earlier and have a much calmer, more positive start to your day.
Have sex – have sex as much as you can. I know the Irish Catholic guilt is woven into your DNA when it comes to sex, however a time is dawning when a woman’s “reputation” is not the crazy-big deal it is right now. And remember that anyone who matters doesn’t care, and anyone who cares doesn’t matter. Sex is awesome – enjoy it. And I repeat: have more. Just be safe, obvs. (“Obvs” is something we say in the future. I know it probably sounds a bit weird to you now)
Enjoy dating. Dating where I’m writing from now is a bit weird. Most of it is actually done on phones. I know, I told you it was weird! Where you are now is the fun time of dating – when guys walk up to you in a bar and try to impress you, when men write your number down and call the next day. It’s brilliant fun, make the most of it.
Don’t ditch your friends for cosy nights in with your boyfriend. This will be a regret of yours in future.
If relationships start to feel stale, negative or if they suck your actual life force from you, then politely excuse yourself from that relationship pronto. You don’t owe him anything and he owes you nothing either. You can’t even imagine the man you’re going to marry. He will ignite your world and you will have zero – I mean zero – doubt that he’s the man you’re meant to marry.
That said, marriage is not easy. I heard recently that when you get married, you marry the other person’s childhood – and them yours. So do yourself a favour and tidy up your half of the bedroom (so to speak) sooner so you bring less baggage into future relationships – and remember, therapy is always a good idea.
You naturally sit on the more serious end of the spectrum; you’ll see in time that that’s why you have so many close friends who bring the fun factor into your life. Keep them close as your soul needs them and will miss them when you’re one day living on the opposite side of the world from them.
You and your sister will have awesome travel adventures together – you and Jenny will stay on a ranch in Texas, stay in the most basic A-frame hut imaginable on a Malaysian island and catch a night train from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Soak up every minute of those holidays as it’ll feel like overnight that you’re both married and have grown-up responsibilities, and it might be a long time before you get to travel like that together again.
That upstyle you figure out around now will serve you very well in future. It was worth the practice and will be your default hair solution for many a breakfast event and important meeting.
Staying with the beauty stuff, start to think about what you’re putting onto your skin – as it’s all being absorbed right into your system. Start with your deodorant – chuck that Vaseline roll-on in the bin and go to Wholefoods in Kensington to find a natural alternative. This natural skincare space is going to boom from around where you’re at now, however you should try swap out as much stuff as you can earlier than you do.
Learning to touch type at university will prove to be one of the best life skills you’ve ever learned – as much as you complained about it at the time. You’ll go on to write three books (I KNOW!!) and credit those seemingly pointless typing class with the fact that your fingers can channel what your brain is thinking so quickly.
Spirituality is not the church. In a few years you’ll have something of spiritual awakening and you’ll start to be hungry for more information on this space. You’ll realise that there’s a vast, intricate and infinitely powerful safety net all around you – and that you are more loved, valued and protected than you could even imagine. This will be proved to you time and time again over the next ten years.
Learn to meditate. I know where you are right now that meditating is probably the exclusive domain of crunchy hippies – but trust me, in the future all the cool people are doing it, including you. This is another super valuable life skill and one you could learn a hell of a lot earlier.
Birth is nothing to worry about. I know that the idea of giving birth actively makes you not want to have kids, however it’s fine. In fact, it’s more than fine – it’s amazing. Your body was built to birth and you will be thrilled at how positive an experience it is for you.
You have a daughter, Lexi. She is the light of your world and you have no idea – NO IDEA AT ALL – what kind of magical being you have sitting in one of your ovaries right now as you read this. You have so much to look forward to when it comes to being a mother. And don’t worry, by the time she comes along you’ll be ready to be less selfish.
You will regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did do. So give yourself permission to live a little. Remember that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. Oh and growth is uncomfortable. If you’re feeling too comfortable, you’re not growing – so shake shit up a bit sweetie.
You’re a really good public speaker – but you won’t find this out for quite a few years yet. On this cool social media platform Instagram (you haven’t heard of this yet), people will message you every day telling you that you inspire them. It’s a bit nuts TBH (sorry another 2018-ism – To Be Honest), however you’ll see it for what it is – a massive privilege. Remember this next time your palms are sweating and your heart is racing in a meeting room.
Invest time and money in personal development. This doesn’t happen for a couple of years yet – however one of the very few regrets I have here in the future is not learning more about myself/you earlier. I’m talking about your values, your motivations, your bugbears, your limiting beliefs… This will become fuel for you in future, however I/we wish we had started this work at 17 and not 27. Be the 1% of people who think about this stuff.
Don’t judge people by what they do, how they look or what they wear. It will blow your mind who’s hiding behind outward appearances in future.
Observe how you feel in people’s company, then decide based on that how close you want to have them in your life. This will be an excellent rule of thumb for you in future, and will spare you a shitload of drama and negative emotion as you gradually move away from the people who make you feel bad.
Your gut is your soul talking to you – listen to it more. It will never lead you astray.
That’s my letter to you dear Lorraine. I love you and I’m epically proud of you. Now go to Borough Market, buy a brownie, sit down on South Bank and eat it slowly and know that you have so very much to be excited about. And scared about, but don’t worry – I’ve got your back.