CoppaFeel!, a breast cancer awarness charity that I love, turned 10 years old yesterday. It has been a huge part of my life over the past few years and I am so grateful for having found it. Kris, the founder, wrote a letter to her 23 year old self about her journey, as a look back on the past 10 years, and has encouraged others to do the same. So, here it is, my #grablifeletter
You have no idea, but you have just started at a school that you will one day be teaching at, how crazy is that? You know all those times that you made people pretend to be your students, just so that you could mark them off against your carefully made register? Well, now you actually do that and, each time you do, you get that wonderful goosebumps tingle run up your arms as you scold those who are late and smile at those who accidentally say, ‘yes, mum’.
You have just finished 3 years at University, studying a course that you don’t even know exists yet. Whilst it wasn’t always smooth sailing, you discovered a charity that helped you get through the tougher times, CoppaFeel!. It is a breast cancer awareness charity and you go to help them in the office. But lets be honest, they help you more than you ever could help them because they welcome you in to an office, where kindness, laughter and cups of tea are at the centre, at a time when you felt like you were on the outside a lot. They made you feel like you belonged and were valued, all whilst counting ‘checking’ cards and boob balloons into envelopes. Because of them, you set up a Uni Boob Team and embarked on a mission to make everyone aware of breast cancer signs and symptoms and to urge them to check monthly. It is not something you ever dreamt of, or even thought of, when you were at school but it shapes who you are and makes your university experience pretty special. So, don’t shy away from walking into that office for the first time and donning a giant boob suit whilst walking up to randomers to chat boobs… you’re actually pretty good at it!
Besides that, you’re going to go through a lot in the next 10 years and will experience some incredible and devastating life events. You will love your time at boarding school and grow in confidence like never before. You will kiss your first boyfriend, only to break up with him and date his best friend. Don’t worry though, they both end up being some of your closest friends. Speaking of friends, you go through some rough patches in your friendships, some of which have a huge and lasting impact on your life. However, there is one person that never leaves your side (apart from one particular argument in Italy which causes him to literally run away from you) and he will always be your best friend. Treasure him, and maybe try not to piss him off quite so much because he really is the best that there is and he single-handedly grows your epic collection of ‘Now that’s what I call music’ CDs.
You will have your first serious boyfriend when you are 16, which lasts for about a year. You won’t appreciate his doting enough and his bizarre, but thoughtful, gifts. Don’t feel bad for ending the relationship and try not to worry about whether you will ever find someone to say ‘I love you’ to. You will fall for a guy in your first term of uni and it happens, quickly, chaotically and all-consumingly. Only, it turns out that he is a complete a**hole and breaks your heart. Don’t regret that relationship though, or shy away from it, it has helped make you the person you are today.
That’s not the only time your heart is broken in the past ten years though. Family becomes a skewed concept for a little while and people you trust change into people you barely recognise. But, this heart break teaches you one of the most important things you have learnt over the past 10 years and that is to keep your family close. To value and appreciate them. To put kindness and love above anything else. To appreciate that this is where quirky little you belongs and feels at home.
Ultimately though, none of this matters. It is all going to happen anyway. You are going to have some truly incredible adventures and experience some amazing things, you even disappear off to Nepal! So many of your dreams are going to come true.
So, 11 year old me, go out there and be yourself. Be brave, be bold, be daring (you may, or may not, have that tattooed on you before you leave school). Have fun, laugh, cry and embrace every freaking moment because your life is pretty dang special and so are you.
All my love,