Letter To My 16-Year-Old Self: Athlete Nadia Power

"Stop thinking that you’re not talented enough."

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 athlete Nadia Power. The Templeogue woman is a 2019 European U23 800m bronze medallist and an ambassador for the 2020 Athletics Ireland Irish Life Health Mile Challenge in August. 

In her letter, she talks about the importance of not being afraid to say no, to pursue her dreams no matter what and not to be afraid of what other people think.


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“Dear Nadia,

There first thing I’d tell you is that it’s actually really cool to be kind!

You used to be kind of moody walking around school, unwilling to make new friends sometimes or to help others. you thought it was cooler to walk around looking moody! Life has since taught me that if you project positivity out into the world you get so much of it back. That really has been my experience, even recently when I spoke out against racism and to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
It might sound strange but when I’m falling asleep at night now I often think ‘was I nice to everyone I met today? Did I have a positive impact on all of them?’ I really believe I’ve achieved something, and had a good day, if I did that.

Something else I’d stress is to believe in yourself and your dreams. You used to often think others were more talented than you, and think that amazing things couldn’t ever happen to you, but they have. So stop thinking that you’re not talented enough.

Stop setting limits on yourself and thinking you won’t achieve things because you’re not from a certain place or don’t look a certain way. Those are made-up barriers and thinking like that is actually the biggest obstacle you can put in front of yourself. Even though you were always very sporty you were, like a lot of teenagers, insecure about your ability and your body.

You look at others and think ‘they’ve better abs or look more toned or more muscular than me so they’ll run faster’. You thought you needed to look like that to beat them. None of that was true.

Everyone is different and looks different. You need to embrace that and not measure yourself against others. Now I understand that it’s what you do with your body, and what your body can do for you, that’s what’s most important.

One day, you’ll finally realise that when you noticed how consistent you’ve been, not suffering with injuries over many years. That tells so much more about the condition of my body than how I look.

And be patient! Teenagers tend to wish away the years, but if you stay positive and patient and work hard, so many of the things you were hoping to happen will eventually happen. As a 16-year-old you wanted things ‘next week’ and got frustrated that things weren’t happening ‘now’.

Finally, throw yourself into your goals wholeheartedly. If you have a passion don’t be swayed and don’t be worried about what other people think of you.

You struggled with that when you’re younger. You really wanted to chase athletics success but, sometimes, you felt self-conscious, or afraid that your friends thought I was boring. Thankfully one of your best friends, who is also a good athlete, was in the same situation. That helped because you’re always the two going home early.

So work hard and prioritise what’s important to you and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to friends or social opportunities. All that stuff you missed socially, you could have that back in a heartbeat now, but you don’t want it. Your hard work and dedication pays off eventually and your true friends will understand.

When I look at who I’ve stayed friends with since school, they’re the ones that just understood and supported me. Even now they’ll say ‘we’ll go for lunch with you Nadia, not a night out’ because they know my lifestyle is different to theirs. They’re the real friends, the ones who support your dreams and goals.

Looking back it’s actually really impressive, at that age, to chase after a goal and have such a strong passion. So go after it wholeheartedly and the right people and your true friends will really respect that.
Don’t ever set limits on yourself or your dreams!

xx Nadia”


 The Irish Life Health Mile Challenge takes place from August 17-23. Register for this ‘virtual’ race at Irishlifehealth.ie and find training programmes that suits you. A limited-edition ‘Mile Challenge T-Shirt’ can be purchased at the registration stage which is open now and until August 23.