Dear my 21 year old self…

Good times celebrating your twentieth. Don’t even bother with a cocktail this year. Unless you’ve finally gotten over the whole ‘one sip of alcohol makes you sick’ thing?

Hi Cat,

It’s me – well, you – writing to remind you of a few things. At the moment the intended reading date of this letter is seven months away. I’m writing to you aged 20 and five months and I’m wondering how much will have changed by the time you read this. You’ve just finished Week 12 of Semester 2 of your final year of university – it’s crazy how quickly three years goes, hey? I’m just starting Week 3 of Semester 1 and already our semester studying Aboriginal linguistics at The University of Melbourne seems like a distant dream. I’m hoping you still remember it fondly – in a way it inspired this letter. Remember Women of Letters? A letter can be pretty powerful thing.

Also keep in mind that sometimes you do love linguistics. Remember that when you’re debating whether or not to revise for next week’s exams.

Right now I’ve just finished a sixty page article on linguistic field methods written by a guy who studied in the NT, I’m feeling twinges of excitement – like that one brief moment when I contemplated what it would be like to do postgrad research in an Aboriginal community – but I know my future is not in linguistics. We both know that I have a love/hate relationship with education. And that’s why in June 2013 – next month for you – I’ll be finishing at The University of Manchester and entering that big crazy real world out there.

I know you love singing along to John Mayer screaming “I just found out there’s no such thing as a real world, it’s just a lie you’ve got to rise above“, but we both know that’s not true. You need to enter the real world. You need a job. More importantly, you want a career. And I’m guessing there’s still a part of you that aspires to get back to Australia. But first, let’s get a skillset sorted so you’ll be more desirable when faced with stringent immigration policies.

Have you learnt more than just ‘basic’ SEO yet? I really hope you’ve managed to get your head around using Google Analytics because I assure you that’s something I’m struggling with right now.

Do you know where you want to live? Moving back home makes financial sense but something tells me you’re actually growing to like Manchester and the growing digital scene up here. Then again, I know you’d never say ‘no’ to the opportunity to get one step closer to your dream London agencies. One day you’ll be working in We Are Social‘s Australian office or in a quirky social media job you saw advertised on or something equally amazing-sounding. You’ve never been short of ambition.

I hope you’ve successfully worked out the difference between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing and which you prefer. And I really hope you’ve convinced a few people along the way that social media can do incredible things. Maybe everyone’s using Twitter better now, maybe not. Have you finally started using LinkedIn proactively or are you still in a two-figure connections lull?

How’ve you gone balancing uni, internships and everything else? I hope it was a sensible decision to put everything into career building and occasionally make your degree a secondary priority. I guess you still haven’t worked out the best way to answer people when they say “Oh linguistics, so what languages do you speak?”. You never know, in a month’s time maybe you won’t need to fall back on your degree. Hopefully you’ll have a job title to announce yourself as. Then again, going by marketing job titles I’m sure you’ll still be met with a few bemused looks.

Sorry , I never even checked, you are still pursuing a career in marketing, aren’t you? I know you still dabble in journalism and when you saw that ad for a new editor of Food and Travel magazine you felt the pangs of excitement to see your former dream job being advertised, but I also know that journalism has become a hobby for you. I just don’t think it’s something you’ll stick at unless you find the perfect job. Your writing skills can be put to much better use online. I’m sure you’ll do whatever you feel is right though. Do you still find it far too hard to say ‘no’ to an opportunity?

I really hope you’re not facing graduate unemployment. Please don’t be another statistic. We’ve worked hard not to be. Please don’t tell me the months of unpaid internships since 17 haven’t amounted to anything. I know you loved some of them, others less so. Remember that one you quit after two days that unsurprisingly never made it to your CV? Those days catching three trains to Battersea seem like a lifetime ago. And don’t get me started on how long ago you were pulling up advertising stats for NatMags. Do you still feel like that was a wasted opportunity – why did you lose the email address you were given from the Good Housekeeping deputy editor? I know you were young, but had things turned out differently it could’ve been very useful. Maybe if you’d been more on top of Twitter back then it’d have been different. Remember when you were sat around the desks – I think it was just before the elbowing at the Cosmo £1 beauty sale – talking about this new social network and you casually laughed off that you had an account but you didn’t use it. Oh how things have changed.

Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t distract you from revision any more than I already have.

I hope you know what you want to do in life. And I hope you’re happy.

Let’s blitz these exams and begin the rest of our life.


Cat x

PS. If all else fails, I reckon you’d make quite a good human scarecrow.

Anyone else ever written to their future self? It’s pretty confronting and inspiring at the same time. Try it out…