First published in issue one of Cinders magazine

I wrote this piece on my 26th birthday, thinking about all of the things I would tell my 16 year old self if I could.

I then performed the piece at the Cinders magazine official launch on December 16, 2016.

You can view my performance here, kindly filmed by McDonnellHouse Productions.

1. You may feel like there’s no one like you out there in the world right now. One. There are. and Two. You’ll meet them soon.

2. Learn to cook now, while you’re at home. That way college you may not have to eat so many frozen dinners and intern you might not have gotten food poisoning that one time. (Don’t worry, you get over it.)

3. Listen to your mother. In a few years you’ll come to terms with the fact that she knows best. About everything.

4. Forget about that boy you keep texting. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but he really isn’t interested. And that’s okay. You’ll find the right people when you’re meant to. Plus, he’s nowhere near being rich now.

5. I know you want a boyfriend. But trust me when I say you really don’t need one. Go hang out with your friends, they’ll be the people you wish you spent more time laughing with when you look back.

6. Try to remember that there is more to education than just academics. Learn a new skill, and remember the old things you used to love. There is a box of unused pencils sitting in your drawer, take them out and remember that once upon a time you used to draw.

7. But never stop reading. You’ll make a career out of it one day.

8. Do stop judging books by their covers. (I mean that literally). There is a book sitting on your shelf right now called I Capture the Castle. You haven’t read it because you don’t like the orange cover. Read it and be amazed. Trust the JK Rowling recommendation on the back.

9. Don’t be afraid to change your mind about things. You will learn that your first thought about something new is more often wrong than right and changing your mind will give you some of the best experiences you’ll ever have. Opinions aren’t set in stone.

10. Say yes to more new opportunities. Stand up in front of people and speak. Write more poems. Write more stories. Sing more. Sing louder. Buy a ukulele.

11. You’re good at offering to help, but try to remember to ask for it sometimes too.

12. Don’t be afraid to slow down. Take a moment to figure out what makes you happy. Then take a separate moment and use that to figure out who you are and who you want to be. Realise that you don’t have to plan out your entire life right now. Where’s the fun in that?

13. Forgive the people who have wronged you in the past. They’re not worth the space they’re taking up in your brain.

14. There will be times when you think that you are behind everyone else and haven’t a hope of catching up. Just stop, take a deep breath and remember: life is not a race. Find something that makes you smile. And if you still feel behind, create something to make someone else smile.

15. There will also be times when you think you’re ahead of everyone else and have no idea where to go next. Really, really, remember, life is not a race, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to slow down.

16. Try not to worry too much about the future. You’ll get there in plenty of time. It’s right here waiting for you.