Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or won’t achieve your dreams.
If I could have spoken to my 14-year-old self, I’d let her know that she has a rollercoaster ride in store. It’s not going to be pretty and it isn’t going to be easy. Most of the time you’ll feel like you’re heading in the wrong direction or failing. You’ll never quite be enough.
It’s the 21st century but still you’re going to face an overwhelming amount of backlash. Men will say you don’t belong and that this is purely a man’s world. People will get jealous, turn nasty and bully. Males try to take advantage. They’ll blame it on the alcohol. Now their wife is pregnant whilst you’re still living with the turmoil.
You need to be prepared for what’s to come. Grow your thick skin and develop an ability to turn a no into a yes. Because you will get rejected dozens of times. You won’t quite be what they’re looking for. You won’t quite have enough experience. You’ll be ignored whilst others around you celebrate success. You will feel envious but in the end acknowledge their hard work and talent. It will be you too, one day.
You’ll be up all night after night applying for the perfect job that you’ll never hear back from. You’ll have interviews - many of those. First stage, second stage...only to be told that they want you to work for free. It’s great exposure though. This is all whilst you’re juggling studies, degrees and part-time ‘normal jobs’ just to make ends meet.
You’ll make mistakes that you aren’t proud of. Get sucked in with the wrong crowd. You’re only 17 but they see potential in you. You’ll look back and have wished you said no. But they offered you a lifeline, however twisted their intentions were. You’ll live with regret and hope that it never happens to someone else.
Nevertheless, you’ll make the most amazing memories. Often they come after a few hours of sleep and it’s pelting it down with rain outside. You’re at Silverstone and it’s freezing and wet but you don’t care. This is where you love and this is where you call home.
You travel the country and get to go abroad. You hear that unmistakable sound of engines racing. Sure, the sounds may be different to what they used to be, but they still ignite this feeling of awe inside you. And, as your laptop dies for the fifth time that day, you race over to the paddock to celebrate success. Now you’re covered in sticky champagne. Who cares? It’s worth all of it.
You form friendships that you could never have imagined. Form bonds with people who speak different languages. Visit their homes and be welcomed as family. You’ll see the world in a whole different light.
You’ll experience life with a Formula 1 team and you have the most amazing time. You cry as you drive away from the circuit, having worn the Silver Arrow’s uniform for the past two days. This is the first time in your life that you’ve left like you truly belong.
You’re living in a magical bubble that you don’t want to burst. Few get to experience just this and you appreciate all of it. The sheer enormity of it.
With tears in your eyes, you remember your first ever race and see just how ridiculously far you’ve come.
The road ahead will be tough but, promise me something….
Never, ever give up.