three women in a traditional boat in Vietnam wearing traditional Asian cooli hats

Dear 17 Year Old Me

Maree, 62

I am writing to you as a 62 year old woman; yes a senior member of society!
Even though you are at the age to leave school and begin your career as a Nurse in disability, this is the beginning of an adventurous journey, as nursing is not the only occupation you will be employed in.

To begin, I want to tell you how much I love what you have experienced in your life to now. It certainly has not been dull … but an exciting, uplifting and sometimes a sad journey.
You have grown to 4ft tall, yes that’s all 120cm to be exact which is as a result of your short stature/dwarfism … which has proven to be one of your greatest assets.
Opps! I used the word “dwarfism” which you are not comfortable with at your age. You would cringe when anyone used the word speaking about yourself and especially in connection to Snow Whites’ house mates.
You will be pleased to know that I am happy, I don’t spend time sitting in the car to avoid people staring or a group of children jeering as they pass. I go about my life loving the confident woman I have become. There certainly has been ups and downs, a majority of the downs in the younger years was about being on my own and not getting hitched like a lot of your friends did, some at a very early ages.
Not being hitched meant that you became a traveler and headed off overseas like a lot of young people do, and you went on your own!! Go girl, you travelled to UK, Europe and Africa in your early 20’s. This actually worked so much in your favour, as a result of the experiences, when you came home you decided to leave your current career in disability/nursing and started studying photography for 4 years, which opened some many doors. You made such good friends, in 1988 you became a Photographer at the State Library of NSW and then onto Manager where you worked for 12 years, and during this time you went to Uni and completed a Grad Dip in Arts Management.
Over the past years you have less connection with the Short Stature People of Australia (SSPA) as you feel it was not needed as much, but in your early 40’s you connect with some short statured friends again and start dating a Dutch man of short stature, which results in you moving in 2000 to live and work in the Netherlands. You work in two international organizations as a Team Manager, you learn a foreign language and make some wonderful lifelong friends. After a while you and the Dutch man go your separate ways and in 2015 you move back to Australia to live, which brings you full circle to working back in disability with the NDIS.
In 2016 you decide to reconnect with the SSPA which resulted in you being elected on National Council, currently the Vice President and Liaison Officer for the Professional Advisory Board.
The combination of your work & life experiences has resulted in you becoming a happy, confident woman who is comfortable in her own skin. Enjoy the life ahead young one!

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