We all know what I did for my ‘sweet sixteen’. I went off to speak at the UN to deliver a keynote speech on girls in technology and discuss how technology influenced my life.
Of course, on my return a few people were asking me: “What are you going to do for your 18th? Vegas, maybe?”
Well, it wasn’t quite Vegas, but to me it’s something I’ll never forget.
For the week leading up to my birthday I decided to book a nice little break in Barcelona, next to the Camp Nou, so I could go see my beloved team FC Barcelona play Athletic Bilbao.
The hotel staff were great and when I said I was in Barca for my 18th and the match it immediately struck that I was a huge fan.
This started a mission in the hotel — could Joanne finally meet her beloved team, her lifelong heroes?
Well it happened. Match day it was announced [well, to my mother] that my wish would come true. Pepe Costa, member of the technical team, the only confident English speaker, approved and it was all happening.
Even though it was only five minutes, it was the best five minutes of my life, I met my heroes, albeit watched by security, and I got a few photos with some players, even the little genius Lionel Messi.
After all the travelling I had another duty here at home before I turned 18, and that was to meet none other than Michael D Higgins himself.
Of course, my family, extended family and I were completely honoured for a chance to go the Áras and meet Michael D, another hero, but in a different way to the Barcelona players. Of course, the big aim was to get a selfie with him and it just had to happen.
To conclude my crazy celebrations, a small get together was held between all my family and close friends. It was a night we’ll never forget, full of banter, craic — everything an Irish 18th has.
To say I had the best 18th celebrations is an understatement.
Don’t live life the way you think others want you to live, live it the way you want. If you have a dream there should be nothing in this world to stop you, the only thing in your way is you. Live life, do whatever you want and never give up.