Nikki Parkinson | Styling You | Letter to her 21-year-old self on 50th birthday | Photo by Sarah Keayes/The Photo Pitch

Dear Me: a letter to my 21-year-old self on my 50th birthday

Nikki ParkinsonLife 82 Comments

Nikki Parkinson | Styling You | Letter to her 21-year-old self on 50th birthday | Photo by Sarah Keayes/The Photo Pitch 

To my 21-year-old self (on my 50th birthday),

Your 21st birthday party didn’t quite go the way you hoped it would, did it? Please waste not one minute more on that very bad egg who ruined your night. He won’t be the last to mess with your emotional state. You’ll kiss more than a few frogs (and some toads) before you find the person who you’ll grow old with. The thing is, you don’t really know who you are yet, let alone have the confidence to show that person to the world. That will come. Baby steps. 

You are SO young. You don’t realise that, do you? The years may be on your side but you’re far from indestructible. In a couple of years’ time you’ll get a very nasty strain of glandular fever. Please take more than the four days off work. Ignore the boss who is making you feel guilty for being sick. You are REALLY sick. Oh, and don’t go on that snow bus tour and drink CSCs all night from test-tubes and then ski all day. You have a major illness. Would it help if I told you that you will end up having a lifetime of immune system and thyroid problems and that in your very near future you’ll have to stop work for a time because you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Freaking you out? Good. Your future health depends on you taking the time to get better. Do it.

Remember how you loved travelling to Europe while at university? Please don’t be scared to resign from your job for a while and take off overseas. I know you think it will be difficult to get a job when you get back but trust me when I say that you will be able to. Do it now before The Life Plan takes over.

I know you have a life plan that you want to roll out super quickly. And roll out it will. You will be married by 25 and you will have your first two babies before you’re 30. In between those two babies, you’ll miscarriage and also lose your mum and step-dad in a tragic accident. You’ll love those babies fiercely as a way to distract you from the grief you bury deep in your gut. Problem is, you’ll end up burying a little bit of yourself alongside with it. You won’t realise for many years just how much of yourself you’ve buried. Yes, you’ll love your kids and you’ll get stuck into some exciting projects at work, but you won’t be truly happy. That grief will sit like a dormant volcano in the pit of your stomach until it sits no longer. Volcanos erupt. And so do you. You leave your first marriage, knowing the only person who can make you happy is YOU.

And then you’ll meet someone who allows you to show up and shine and be the person you didn’t know you could be. On paper, this relationship shouldn’t work, but it works a gazillion times better than any you’ve ever had before. You’ll finally get that this is what a good relationship should look and feel like. There is respect, love and support for who you are. You invest time in each other. There will be personal and emotional challenges; there will be explosive fights; there will be fierce makeups. But at the core of it, there is no other person who you’ll like hanging out with more. Together you’ll have the third child that was never on The Plan. Yes, remember that funny little thing you told your friend Clare at uni? That you’d only ever have two children? One for each hand? HAH. See, I told you, throw that life plan out the window. Now.

Your third child will arrive into the world like he’s always been here. He’s funny, cheeky, independent, smart and he’ll probably keep you very much on you toes during his teenage years. You will get off lightly with the older two kids. They won’t get up to half the things you did at their age. You’ll scratch your head and quietly wonder how that happened.

Career-wise, you’re going to love this. You know how pretty much every spare penny you earn gets channelled into new shoes, clothes or lipstick? What if I told you that you’d one day engineer a job that totally made it legit for you to spend your day obsessing over such things? See, you’ll be lucky enough to keep working throughout the years you are a mum of young kids, thanks to a forward-thinking boss who allowed permanent-part time work in his newsroom. You’ll edit a weekly glossy magazine, interview incredible and inspirational people and create a fashion and beauty role at the newspaper where you’ll spend most of your journo career.

Dear me: a letter to my 21-year-old self on my 50th birthday | Nikki Parkinson Styling You

It’s a long way from sitting down at that typewriter and copy paper you use at the moment to churn out stories for the newspaper in your old home town. The tools of your trade will change so much over 30 years but know this: your ability to adapt and flow with those changes will be exactly what sets you up for your “best job ever” – a job you will create for yourself. You’ll leave newspapers as they start to decline in readership (and the associated job cuts that come with that). It’s nine years since you made that now-or-never decision to start your own business and work on this thing called the Internet. I can’t really explain how it all works. I don’t even understand it, myself. All I know is, that it will change your life. 

You’ve always loved having a chat. Now you get to chat with thousands of women every day and it doesn’t matter where they live. You get to chat to them on your computer and phone (yes, you’ll carry around a phone with you every where you go. No cords attached!) about finding their own style and being comfortable in their own skin. And every day that you’re chatting with them, you’ll start to feel more comfortable in your own skin too. Your 40s will be your best decade, yet. You will give less f&#ks about things that aren’t important and you’ll give more f&#ks about the things and people who are. Oh, and your wardrobe will only contain things that make you feel fabulous. You get SO much better at nailing that. 

So today, it’s your 50th birthday. You celebrated last Saturday. The day unfolded just how you hoped it would. No bad eggs ruined the day. Instead, you looked around the room and saw a bunch of very good eggs to remind you, plan or no plan, just how bloody fantastic the past 50 years have been. 

Love and kisses


A little look at my 50th celebration

Styling You | Nikki Parkinson 50th birthday

With my daughter at my 50th birthday celebrations. She turns 21 this year. Wonder what her 50-year-old self will say to her 21-year-old self?

Flour and Bell Bakery cake | Styling You | Nikki Parkinson 50th birthday Can you believe the cake? It’s by another 21-year-old. Lucy (Flour and Bell Bakery) went to school with my “big” kids. So talented and the cake was delicious.

Styling You Nikki Parkinson 50th birthday | Flowers by Francesca's Flowers

The gorgeous Francesca from Francesca’s Flowers sourced peonies for the flower arrangements, in which she also popped some vintage photos – this was my first ever fancy dress. Thanks mum.

Location (fabulous food and service): Madam Wu

Photos: Claudia, via The Photo Pitch

{Not sponsored – just all great businesses which I’m very happy to support and shout out about}


Comments 82

  1. Nikki, I don’t know you, but I came across this while looking for 50th Birthday cake ideas for a friend. I loved reading your letter, and was also able to relate to couple of things in your life that is a take away for me. Thank you!

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  2. I love this Nikki! What a great letter and so so true isn’t it. Life is just one big lesson really, isn’t it. I so wish I could have come down to celebrate with you, what a fabulous affair it was, just stunning and I am so pleased you had such a wonderful day with a brilliant crew. Happy 50th – fifty and fabulous!!! You are a special person. xxxx

  3. Happy Happy Birthday!!!
    What a great letter Nikki 🙂 I did this last year as part of a writing challenge and found it a lot harder than I thought it would be. Writing a letter that your 21 year old self would actually read is certainly a challenge that I think most people should try doing, because I was surprised at how my own advice to myself at 21 was still actually relevant at almost 51!!!
    The photos of your birthday celebration look amazing, the food, the cake and the flowers – absolutely perfect 🙂

  4. Loved it Nikki and I never take the time to read these things and it didn’t let me down. Happy 50th Birthday! xx

  5. LOVE this letter! If only we knew then what we know now… mind you it always occurs to me that I needed to go through ‘that’ to become ‘this’.

  6. love love love it !! I had my 40th birthday last year and i took some time to reminisce how different my life is from what i had planned. Nothing worked out like i thought and i am soo glad !! Yep there are some things i wish i had done earlier but my god i have done a whole lot more than i thought i would and it took me a whole lot longer to find the right person to spend it with.. thanks for sharing your letter, your life and your lessons learnt. Happy happy birthday !! I hope i look as hot as you, and appear as confident and settled in yourself as you do when i reach 50 🙂 xxx

  7. That was just a beautiful, warm, embracing & easy letter. Forgiving, guiding & smart. I applaud you on your reflections….& Happy Birthday!!! :))

  8. Nikki it looks like you had an amazing celebration with all the special people in your life. Happy 50th !
    That is such a great letter. Why do we try and rush through our lives sometimes and not just try and enjoy all the experiences as we go? That is such a great life lesson to share with others. Thank you for all that you do and share with us!

  9. Hoping you have had a wonderful birthday festival. I look back to even when I turned 40 and my life is so different to how I thought it would or should be. My partner is not what I thought I needed, or wanted. I am the happiest ever. Toads – yep married one, was engaged to two. Had a few frogs in between. Here’s to our most wonderful lives ever! xx

  10. Happy, happy birthday dear Nikki. Whilst the life plan may have had a few jolts and shakes, I think your 21 year old self would be pretty proud of the beautiful and talented woman you have grown up to be. Here’s to many, many more decades of fabulousness xxx

  11. Such a beautiful letter. It actually choked me up! Thank you for sharing and cheers to you, gorgeous birthday girl xx

  12. This is beautiful Nikki. Big love to that 21 year old who had you at her very core. Look at what you have become, and who you have touched along the way. Happy Birthday.

  13. Happy birthday Nikki … great letter and brought a tear to my eye as I can relate to quite a few things you said in your letter … cheers to you on your special day xx

  14. That made me cry .. what a beautiful description of your past life thankyou for sharing . Heres to living life ☺

  15. Happy birthday Nikki.
    I think most of could do with forgetting about the life plan. At nearly 52 my life is far from what I planned as a teenager- some parts are better than I could have imagined, some things I wished for just never happened for me, and all up me today is the sum of all those things. I do believe the negative or ‘bad’ things make you appreciate the wonderful, positive things all the more!

    1. Yes, the plan is something I wish I hadn’t been so rigid on but it’s my natural default so I don’t think that could have changed and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it (and its deviations!). x

  16. Here’s to you nikki!
    What a great letter and a good idea!
    Such wisdom! … Learning through life’s experiences with Hindsight being a wonderful teacher too!
    Have yourself a very special birthday lovely nikki!
    Much love m )x

  17. Happy Birthday Nikki
    It’s been wonderful reading your blog and gaining inspiration to be the best me (volunteered at Coastrek Melbs in May and set to walk it next year)
    Your letter to 21 yo self is beautiful.
    Best wishes and lots of prosecco and pretty peonies and love for all the years ahead

  18. Dear Nikki, Happy Birthday for today and on Queensland Day as well, how lovely! Your letter made me cry, because you not only survived, you thrived, even when you may have thought you never would. You are such an inspiration to us so called “invisible women”, who are learning we no longer have to be put in a box and thought of that way, with your wonderful guidance and advice and attitude to life, style and looking our best! I personally think we get the presents everyday you show up on your blog and do what you do best. Thank you! All the best for the fab fifties ahead and beyond xx. Jen@ SRS

  19. Happy Birthday Nikki, fabulous letter. Life has obviously suddenly thrown some tough and unexpected balls at you but you’ve caught them and turned many of them into sparkling moments. Heres to a fab decade ahead.

  20. Life is a rollercoaster, I think you’re definitely going to enjoy this part of the ride. Happy birthday Nikki…hang on tight!

  21. Happy birthday Nikki! I too am a ’67 baby and celebrated my 50th in March. I loved your letter and it has made me think a lot about what I would say to myself. Thank goodness I’m a lot different from then but still working on it. Thank you for your blog which I have been following religiously for 3 years. Enjoy the rest of the festival!

  22. Perfect letter Nikki…….and just so true……even if this almost 50 does still worry about what people think……but getting there. Have a beautiful day and enjoy that spa treatment xxx

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