Natasha Nagra

Head of Employer Brand & Talent, Kew Hotels

Dear Natasha

You’re 16 now, so it’s around this age that you wonder why there aren’t many pictures of you. While mum and dad might not approve of that silver and blue neon eyeshadow and your desire to scrape your hair back within an inch of its life – you should know that they will be proud of you and your graduation photo will hang proud above their fireplace. I promise, the time will come when it’ll feel like you make some good life choices.

You’ll soon be making some tough decisions

In fact, this whole chapter is a difficult one. “What do you mean you’re settling down and having a baby before university?!” “Do you really think “recruitment” is what you want to do with a 1st class degree?” People will have an opinion at every turn and there will be times where you wonder if they’re right. But you’ll never be one for following the conventional path. You’ll soon realise that being different and standing up for yourself is a positive.

In those moments when it feels tough, just remember that what lies ahead will take you to the next step. While you’re working all hours and dragging yourself out of bed to feed baby while your friends are dragging themselves through the door at 3am from a night of partying, it’ll be easy to lose focus. But this determination and resilience is what’ll make the rents proud in the end.

But interestingly as you get older, this desire to make people proud and to be liked – it’ll become less important to you.

You’ll learn to stop stressing, overthinking and putting so much pressure on yourself. You’ll slow down (a little). You’re going to realise that it is okay if people don’t like you – that doesn’t make you a failure – you can be the most delicious cup of iced coffee in the world, but some people just aren’t going to like iced coffee. That’ll kind of become your mantra (yes, you’re also going to become a creepy user of one-liners, I’M SORRY). In time, you’re going to learn to enjoy the moments you missed with those beautiful small people in the early days. You’ll find balance with a career you LOVE and a family you ADORE. You’ll be happy.

Please take the time now to explore your passions outside of work.

Have an identity outside of the 9-5 and family. Take up those offers for coffee and spend time with people who challenge you to be a better person. You’re 16 and awkward and trying to find your feet in the world but a mentor will help. As will spending more time with your grandparents. You’ll regret it otherwise.

So, still work hard.

Thrive in the pressure but don’t feel deflated when people question your choices. Be unapologetically you. By the time you get to my age now, it won’t be as tough for women. The choices you make will inspire others to know they can have it all and you’ll have inspired a wide eyed 11-year-old to be a strong, hardworking woman (and people will often ask you if you’re sisters – BEST LIFE!).

My last piece of advice

100% ditch the hair gel and buy yourself a neutral eye shadow. It’ll be less embarrassing in the wedding photos.

Yours sincerely,

Your older (and a little wiser) self.


Thank you Natasha Nagra writing A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self

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