Dear Maria

If I’d told you five years ago that today you would be studying law at the heart of London and, most importantly, you would be experiencing moments you only talked and only dreamt about, would you have taken my word for it?

Truth is, the answer doesn’t really matter. Deep down you and I both know you’ll never stop trying until you’ve achieved your biggest dreams and desires, no matter how remote or scary they may seem at the time.

At just the age of 17 you’re called upon to make a choice, which at the time felt like the most crucial yet almost impossible decision ever – one mis-step and all your hopes and aspirations risk becoming derailed.

Leading up to university, you had a slight inclination towards becoming a lawyer, although the reasons behind this were at the time unclear. No one in the family had followed this path, but could they still gave influenced your thinking? Could they have unwittingly led you to believe pursuing law was your calling? After all, your family always praised your tenacity and your eloquence of speech (a ‘master in the art of persuasion’, as they said). Could that be it? Or perhaps it’s because law is viewed as a rigorous academic discipline with a good track record for high rates of employment?

Notwithstanding everyone trying to persuade you to pursue a legal career, you weren’t fully convinced this was the right path for you. Instead, you decided to study Political Sciences.

Two years as a Poli-sci student you suddenly wake up one morning and realised you’re supposed to be some place else; something just doesn’t feel right. You experience uncomfortable feelings of demotivation, inadequacy, negativity, pessimism and disappointment. Then comes fear, confusion and about a million ‘what ifs.’ What if this isn’t the right path for me? What if this is not where I’m supposed to be? What if I lose precious time while trying to figure out what is a more appropriate path for me? What now? And then what happens next?

I wish you could have realised this sooner, but time was not lost. In the end, time was your most precious gift. Four years of severe anxiety, a notable amount of travel and a couple of internships later, you decided to follow your dream and push forward with a career in law. You finally decided to pursue the path you wanted right from the outset but were back then too young or afraid to recognise and grab. I gotta say – bold move.

Nearing the end of your second year at law school, and looking back at all the mistakes, confusion, anger and indeed disappointment, what do you feel? Regret? Gratefulness? Knowing you, I’d say the latter, given you’ve now found the right career path, and at the most appropriate time. After a period during which you consciously researched, including talking to people in the field, and effectively weighed your options and gained work experience, before committing.

I want you to know that it’s perfectly fine to make occasional wrong choices, even related to important issues such as your future career. Indeed, you should be expected to do so, especially at the age of 17. As you’ll grow to learn, sometimes the benefits of making mistakes are greater than the drawbacks. If treated as a learning experience they can trigger positive changes that help you to grow and mature, to understand yourself better and test your limits. Mistakes challenge people and from what I’ve witnessed, they have challenged you in the best possible way.

Love,

Your other self, M.