Today's Jeff Goins 500 words challenge is to write something "that you wish someone would have told you 10 or 5 or even one year ago" and to "share your best advice with the world". I'm going to go a bit further back than that - I'm writing a letter to my 5-year old self when I was starting school. Here goes!
Dear Me (5),
This is your 56-year old self writing to you from the future in 2016. I look a bit different than you do now - a lot older, less hair, and I have a bit of a beard. I like your school photo and Mum's knitted jumper on you - you look very innocent and it will take a long time for you to grow up. In some ways I haven't fully grown up, and as I get older there are plenty of times I wish I was transported back to the early/mid 60s to be you/me again.
I wonder who your teacher was at the time of this school photo? I know it was taken in St Brigid's National School in Carnew and I'm guessing that it was taken in 1964 when you were 5. Mrs Keating might have been your teacher. You won't know this now, but she will have a huge influence on your education. She will slap you with her ruler because you won't know your tables, but she will be the last teacher ever to punish you like this - and you will thank her for this. You will quickly learn that to avoid getting slapped all you have to do is learn your lessons. After her class you will never be slapped again. Corporal punishment will be abolished in Ireland in 1982.
You are about to embark on a lifetime in education. You will spend the next 7 years in Carnew National School - when you are 56 you will barely remember any of your classmates by name and you will not have seen any of them for many years. Like me - they mostly all left Carnew. In 1971 you will be sent for a year to Scoil na nÓg in Trabolgan in Co Cork. This is to get you to learn Irish. It will work for a short while, but when you are 56 you will not be able to have even a simple conversation in Irish. You won't miss it, so don't worry about not being good at the cúpla focal. Despite what your teachers say you will manage in life without it.
You probably don't know what a boarding school is yet, but you will spend 5 years in Cistercian College Roscrea away from the farm in Ballingate - this won't be easy. This will be followed by 8 years in Trinity - you will graduate with a PhD in 1988. This is a lot of learning which may seem like a mountain to climb for you now - but stick with it. I know girls are annoying to you now, but the best thing that will happen to you in Trinity is that you will fall in love (yuk!) with one. Later you will have children - more girls. After College you will spend your time teaching others - first in an e-Learning company and then in a College where I am now. You won't regret your path through College and the work place - I will not advise you to do something different.
Enjoy every moment along the way. You will makes mistakes, but this is a great way to learn - you will get good at not making the same mistake twice. You will not be an astronaut, a movie star, or a great footballer. You won't be rich or have a big car. Something exciting is awaiting you in thirty years time - you will own a big Harley-Davidson motorbike that will make you feel like a 5-year old again every time you get on it. You will not live near Carnew - in fact, from 1971 onwards you will spend very little time at home in Ballingate. Dublin is getting ready for you. You will never lose your ties with Ballingate - never forget where you are from.
You will be a good boy - sometimes boringly so. If I were to give you some advice it would be to take a few more chances. Rob that orchard, skip class occasionally, nick one of your Mum's delicious scones when she's not looking, ask that girl out when you are a teenager, don't be such a slow driver all the time.