Dear 16-Year-Old Me: Illustrator And Comedian Aoife Dooley

"I’m here to tell you things DO get better"

 

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Each week, we chat to some of our favourite well-known people about what they’d say to their teenage-self. They get open and honest about what their teens were like and share the advice they’d give for the future.

This week, we’re chatting to comedian, illustrator and author Aoife Dooley. The Dubliner and creator of Your One Nikita talks about struggling in school, not knowing she had autism, and achieving her dreams and finding love.

 

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“Dear 16-year-old Aoife, 

As a teen you were anything but shy, in fact, you talked way too much at times. You were brutally honest, hyper and full of life and a lot of people didn’t like that, sometimes you were simply too much for some, but don’t worry, these people are not your real friends, they’re not your tribe.

You waited and wished for years for things to change. Your family told you things would get better but you didn’t believe them. I’m here to tell you things DO get better. The best part of being a teen was listening to rock music, going to gigs and drawing alone in your room. You liked drawing more than spending time with actual people which in turn built up your drawing skills.

The hardest part of being a teen was being an autistic teen who didn’t know they were even on the spectrum. It caused a lot of stress and everyone around you expected great things and put a lot of pressure on you without realising. It was hard trying to keep up with everyone else just because you looked like everyone else. It was hard trying to fit in and you exhausted yourself by trying to be ‘normal’ like everyone else. You learned as you got older that it was ok not to be like everyone else because it’s boring and you’re you!

School was hell! You were good at making people laugh through which is good because years later you become a comedian. You were only really good at one subject and that was Art, but don’t worry, it’s the only one you need because in the future you will be an artist. Your dreams about being an illustrator, well, that really happens. I know if I told you that at 16 you’d think I’m full of crap but it’s true.

 

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Since then though, a whole lot has changed! you have a partner who’s a drummer, you’ve been with him nearly ten years and without him on your journey who knows where you would be. He’s been your rock. You also have 3 published books, an animated tv series and more. Things are moving pretty fast and sometimes it’s hard to keep up but it’s ok to take it at your own pace. You find out at 27 that you’re Autistic and you march to the beat of your own drum. By marching to your own beat you’ve helped other people find their beat too.

The biggest piece of advice I give to you, 16-year-old Aoife, would be not to let anyone make you feel any less than anyone else because you’re stronger and more amazing than you’ll ever know.”

For more letters from some of our favourite Irish people, check out our series here.


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