Worth a Thousand Words - A letter to my younger self...
Updated: Mar 16
As 2020 draws to a close, it is always a time of inward reflection, looking back on the year just passed and wanting to make any amends for the future.
A very timely initiative has been launched by Rebecca Raftery in the Law Society of Ireland, where trainees write letters to their younger selves at the very start of their journey to qualification now that they have reached the goal that they had been working towards for many years.
One letter that has been published online features Treasa Norby penning a humourous and light-hearted letter to her younger self, which you can read here,
I believe a lot of trainees will resonate with this prospect of reaching the long-awaited qualification stage, after years of hard work or however many sacrifices, beating back imposter syndrome and coping with any personal challenges.
Inspired by this showing of positive affirmation, I penned my own letter to my past self from 6 years ago, as she stood on the cusp of life decisions, firmly set on a chosen path and full of nervousness.
I submitted it to Rebecca Raftery and was delighted to be featured in the programme.
I did get quite wordy and had to be edited down, but needs must, of course!
Without further ado, I'd like to present the first draft that I wrote in a flurry of emotion and memory, speaking from the heart and offering comfort to my younger self, knowing full well what she will be encountering and experiencing in years to come.
I hope it will inspire any other law students and trainees at the start of their journey, and that it will serve as a personal reminder to never give up, to persevere and to always believe in myself.
"Dear 25-year-old Melissa Margaret Collins,
This is your future self calling. I am manifesting in space and communicating across the time streams just like a sci-fi character to let you know some wonderful news.
It is the end of the first week in November, and you have made it to the home stretch of becoming a solicitor. In just a few short weeks, you will be eligible to apply to the Roll of Solicitors officially and join the legal profession at long last.
You are currently studying for the FE-1 entrance exams, full of nerves and that dreaded imposter syndrome, and I am here to tell you that it has all paid off.
The days spent in the Boole Library in University College Cork, the car journeys up and down to the Red Cow Hotel, the tears shed and sacrifices made, got you accepted into the Professional Practice Course and that dedication that you fostered brought you deserved success in the final exams, both in-person and online.
You have made it through hardship, a long bout of sadness when opportunities for training contracts dried up in Cork city, through a heartbreaking move from Cork to Dublin where you found a traineeship after months of fruitless searching without a foot in the door or family connections
I am going to tell you it will not be easy. You will face difficult days, some sleepless nights and more than likely wonder 'Am I cut out for this?'
You most certainly are. You have spread your wings and learned to fly on your own merit and courage.
But it is not all doom and gloom, I promise. There is so much light ahead of you, in the form of an organisation called Junior Chamber International, which will bring you so much joy, friendship and opportunity. In fact, you will be attending the first meeting of JCI Cork shortly, meeting new friends and finding ways to occupy your time rather than studying. You can thank Mum for reading about them in a local free newspaper, and for all the incredible experiences you will have as a member.
You will get to know your peers and colleagues in Blackhall, forming an information network, working on a business plan group project and sharing the law student lifestyle.
You will take the lessons of mentors and solicitors forward into your own traineeship, watching and learning from people you admire and finding your own interests in legal areas that you will want to practice in in future.
You will have your personal achievements of volunteering for worthy causes, like Pieta House and Focus Ireland, of being a firm follower of the Community pillar in JCI and always remaining a proud supporter of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
You will continue to write for your enjoyment, and following some nudging by fellow JCI friends, you will publish your own blog, Legally Brunette.
I want to tell you to not give up, that each moment has its reason, that each tribulation and trial serve a purpose, despite it being so painful. I am happy to report that you sought help, in the form of reflective group, of empathetic friends and chose to talk about your mental health without shame, that it is more than okay to not be okay.
You will suffer some loneliness but you will have friends who will encourage and support you as you take on leadership roles and dedicate yourself to becoming an active citizen.
You're a Cork girl through and through but you needed to explore the world beyond the Rebel county and the warm safety of your parents' home. This has stood to you and will make you stronger.
The future is yours and it is full of promise. You may suffer heartbreak, loss and even feel like giving up, but there is life beyond that pain.
Please don't give up. I'm rooting for you.
All the love,
Your 31-year-old self."
You can read more about the Ambassador Programme at the link below and connect with the Law Society Education Centre via social media.
Thank you for reading and stay safe.
Law Society of Ireland Ambassador Scheme: https://www.lawsociety.ie/Trainees/PPC-Courses/law-school-ambassador-programme/
Law Society of Ireland Education Centre on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LawSocEdu