It’s not long now until you will be leaving home. We’ve always known it would happen one day, but so soon? When you and Rebecca were growing up, it felt like you’d be children forever, and here we are with both of you young women already. Time has snuck up on us again and just like the blink of an eye from you arriving into our lives to today, what felt like an eternity until you were leaving is now just a few short hours. Everything we thought we had so much time to do is now a rush before you go and if that’s not a metaphor for life I don’t know what is.
I know at the back of your mind you wonder if you are ready for what is to come? I wonder if I am ready too. Even though you are going to be twenty in a few months, you are still our daughter and the instinct to protect and look after you is unshakable and never-ending. Having worked so hard with you to get you this opportunity, mine and your Mum’s hearts are bursting with pride at what you have achieved, but they are also breaking in two that you won’t be around for so long.
Once we are all through the pain, tears and heartbreak of the airport goodbye I want you to remember a few things whilst you undertake your American Adventure.
1. Relax, you’ve got this. Don’t worry about anything as there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Should anything go wrong you are only a few hours away and we can either be there with you or have you home in the blink of an eye. With that in mind take each day as a new opportunity, soak it up, wring it dry and make the most of it. It will be over before you even realise.
2. Work hard. Whilst you will be in your happy place there is a job to do and you must do it well. Grab the job by the scruff of the neck and be the excellent cast member we all know you can be. Delight every guest, give them the magic you adore so much and you will get much more back in return.
3. Trust yourself. You are great, believe me. Don’t feel intimidated by others with more self-confidence or more years on the clock. They are just as lost, confused and unsure as you and everybody else is. Nobody gets Disney more than you, be yourself, and everyone will love you as we do. Listen to your instincts, trust that you’ve been brought up correctly and do what you know is right. Be considerate to others but stand up for yourself.
4. Have fun, lots of it. Embrace social situations and the chance to meet others who feel as you do about WDW. Be a little crazy, (in moderation!), laugh till you cry, make friends for life and remember every day only comes along once. I promise you, not too far in the future you will wonder where the year went. Make it count!
5. Record your memories. For God’s sake don’t spend the year staring at your phone, but do make sure that you record your experiences. We want to see everything of course, but when it’s over you’ll want to look back on your time there again and again.
6. Treasure your room-mate. They are going to be very important to you in your time over there. Look after each other, look out for each other and DO NOT let your room get into the state it does at home. You will be sharing some of the best times of your life with them, treat them well and if they don’t do the same to you, tell them!
7. Be Tough. There will definitely be times during the year that you will get fed up. I know you will be in WDW, but it is still the real world and there will be times when you are tired, home sick, lonely and grumpy. Sit tight, it will pass. Remember what it took to get there, think back to those long London journeys and grueling interview processes when you never thought you’d get to where you are now. Go to a theme park, have a very calorific snack, watch a parade, send a Tweet, Instagram or Snap Chat (not that I understand the bloody thing) or get on Skype to one of us. We’ll show you the inevitable rain outside where we are and make you feel better. Everything and everyone here at home will still be here when you get back.
8. Be Careful. Orlando is still a big scary city filled with its fair share of not very nice people. Don’t drop your guard or your common sense and do silly things. Always travel with someone, keep your wits about you and your eyes open.
9. Keep in touch, but don’t put the pressure on yourself to be Skyping us every day. You’ll be busy, we’re busy, we’ll do what we can when we can. However, a simple message on a regular basis to let us know you are alive, eating, healthy and happy is a requirement. Think on!
10. Be proud, every day. You have come through a highly competitive selection process as the youngest in the entire UK application pool. You have overcome some real challenges as I know you thought your shyness and lack of self-confidence could hinder your chances, but you have shown others with more life and work experience how it is done. Remember that, always. You is kind, you is smart, you is important! Carry that approach on, especially in the early days as you meet new people and settle in. Be you, cos you’re great.
From that day of your first interview when I said goodbye to you in Starbucks and watched you walk away to the group of applicants you were meeting, I have known exactly what it has taken for you to do this. My heart broke then as I watched you leave me, as it will on Tuesday, as you leave once again. But you know….
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
I know now that you are your own woman and you can look after yourself (most of the time!), but we’re here, and always will be. Your determination and drive have been literally awesome and we are all so proud of you pud. We’re going to miss you more than you will ever know. We’ll be counting the days until our trip in August even more than usual. This experience will be the making of you. You deserve it and it deserves you.
Remember, relax, enjoy, embrace every experience and we’ll be thinking about you every single day.
Mum, Dad and Rebecca x