Dear younger Donna……
Where do I start? Knowing what I know now, you need to calm down and not worry about everything so much. See, it’s going to work out way better than you think and worrying about it won’t change anything, it’ll just wear you out.
Leaving school at 16 was a really bad decision but you are going to get away with it. You are going to get a second chance, around 21, to put it right. It was a rash, ill-thought out, mad decision but to be fair to you, you didn’t get much guidance from home or the nuns who thought success was measured by how soon you get married! You knew that was nonsense.
On the positive side, you took big chances. You left Ireland at just 20. You went back to education at 21 and you studied for years to become a solicitor so fair play. You did get stuck in when you got the chance. You flew close to the wind by leaving everything until the last minute but, thankfully, you got there in the end!
Life has shown you that hard work does pay off. Kindness is free and living a life where you try to be a decent person is a lot happier than if you don’t. I like the way you took chances, like moving cities, telling yourself it was worth a try and if it didn’t work out, nobody died. You could change it. I think that worked well for you.
Having a sick Mammy has been hard and flooring at times but you tried to handle it best you could, although, with hindsight, partying and drinking to forget it, wasn’t ideal. You’ve always missed Ireland and you always will but that’s ok. It just shows how much it means to you to be Irish. Your life is here now, and you’ve made the most of it.
I like that you’ve kept your feet on the ground and know that success doesn’t make you a better person. I also like that you haven’t forgotten the people less fortunate than you. You know you are really lucky to be where you are and you’ve a duty to use your voice for good.
You’ve sweated the small stuff way too much but, you’ve mostly kept your sense of humour! Yes, it would have been great to go to university and to have had a more conventional education, but it just didn’t work out that way. It is what it is.
It has been a life so far that you could only have dreamed about. Be grateful and make the most of it.
A huge thank you to my mentor and inspiration Donna for sharing her heartfelt story with me. Please feel free to message and add her on Linkedin to share your thoughts with her.