Dear 16-Year-Old Me: news2day Presenter Reem El-Hassany

"The hardest part about being a teen was the identity struggle."



“Each week, we chat to some of our favourite people of note 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 presenter Reem El-Hassany.

You might recognise her from her new role on RTÉ’s news2day and her reports on RTÉ News 

Reem was born in Iraq but has lived in Limerick since she was a baby when her family moved to Ireland.

She studied her undergraduate degree in pharmacy at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. She worked as a pharmacist for a year, before deciding to move to South Korea and teach English to young children. But she was keen to follow her passion for journalism, and so she returned home to Limerick to study a Masters in Journalism at University of Limerick.

In her letter, Reem talks about struggling with her identity, gaining confidence and her family. 


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“Dear Reem,

As a teen you were, and still are, always so happy and cheery. You have lots of great friends, loved living in Limerick and could never imagine leaving it! You did have some struggles, but you were, and still are, so well supported by your family and friends.

The best part of being a teen was the freedom to do as much as you could (at the age of 16!), you didn’t have to plan anything, you got to go out and see your friends all the time and you had incredibly long summer holidays that were always so much fun!

The hardest part about being a teen was the identity struggle. Right now, you are so unsure of who you are. But, you will discover and learn so much about yourself and, though it can still fluctuate from day to day, you will become so happy with yourself, and the relationships you have with friends and family, close by and abroad.

School for you was great! You loved being in school, you loved learning and enjoyed most subjects, but your favourites were always maths, English and chemistry! Your favourite part of school was spending time with your friends. You loved walking to and from school as well and befriending anyone wearing the same school uniform as you haha.

When you grow up it will all be okay!!!! You get so caught up in your head and your own world when you’re 16. You will learn that nothing is as stressful as you make it out to be in your head. You will get through it all and you will surprise yourself in so many ways. You will also gain so much confidence, from learning and discovering who you are. You will learn to not worry too much and just let things be!

What has changed: you grew into yourself, you gained so much confidence and you learned not to care so much about what other people think. You have made the best friends you could have ever imagined. You’re much busier now so you cherish any bit of time you get to spend with those that mean a lot to you. You develop a ‘go for it’ mentality, and really get stuck into everything you put your mind to. You say yes to so many opportunities and get to try so many different things. You travel with friends, and by yourself – you even move halfway across the world alone!! You’ll try so many different jobs, from all sorts of part-time jobs at university, to becoming a pharmacist, working as an English teacher and then becoming a presenter/reporter (like you always dreamed!).

What has not changed is that you’re still the loudest voice in the room and you’ll still be told to keep it down in quiet places haha! Your relationships with friends and family have developed but they still mean everything to you.

My biggest piece of advice to my teen self would be that it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows, but you will always get through it! You’re so lucky to have so many good people around you and strong positive influences – don’t lose sight of them! If mom tells you to take your younger siblings out with you, just do it, you will all end up becoming best friends and you’ll feel bad for ever having excluded them! Don’t take the small things so seriously. Make sure to get out of your head and stop worrying about what other people think!

I know you’ve got this!

Reem x”

news2day is broadcast Monday-Friday at 4.20pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ News. Follow them on twitter at @news2dayRTE.