What if you could go back in time and give yourself a heads-up?

It's a fairly cruel rhetorical question - but it doesn't mean you can't tell others about the mistakes you've made. Producer Claire lives in Australia, and she's written an open letter to anyone who suspects fear - or bad decisions - might be holding them back.

If I’d been true to myself, I'd have been so much happier five years earlier.

I’m English but I live in Australia, I’ve got a solid career, more friends than I can handle, and I’ve had incredible life experiences. The only time I’ve ever wasted has been done so unwittingly.

On the downside, I don’t have a partner, and I’m probably getting too old to have children. My best friends and family live 10,000 miles away, and I own nothing of note. I also drink way too much booze.

If I was 30 I would be extremely proud of myself. At 35 I’m pleased with what I’ve done and I know I made decisions with the best information and knowledge I had at the time, but if I’d listened to my heart I’d have known I already possessed the answers, and I could have fast-tracked my progress.

What have I done right? Well, my career as a graphic designer has enabled me to permanently settle in a country I feel more at ease in than the one in which I was born. It’s enabled me to see, meet, learn about and befriend some of the most incredible people on the planet. I should have been a graphic designer sooner than I was, but with no role models around and people telling me it was too competitive I delayed my studies by a few years and pursued another path, until I realised my determination was going to burn through others’ negativity.

My advice to you - follow your passion, regardless of prior experience and other influences. You may say, “Who am I to think I can be an fashion designer/actor/TV presenter?”. I would ask, “Who are you NOT to be that?” Don’t deprive the world of your passion, go out and get on with it. NOW!

Attending university at the ripe old age of 24 freed me up to be exactly who I was at the time. I was fiercely ambitious, and not interested in the party scene whatsoever, having spent most of the previous six years pissed. Being unapologetically dull put me in the mad position of being accepted by all the cliques, from the 'cool' people to the geeks and lecturers, because I was totally genuine and didn’t care what they thought anyway. Be true to yourself. It works.

The relationship side is where I’ve really failed. I was with a lovely man for a very long time but it wasn’t right and I shouldn’t have stayed. It was part fear of hurting him, fear of the world of dating, fear of ruining other relationships connected to us both. After five years of singledom I remain somewhat fearful, not least because I’ve had some fairly outrageous experiences with men since. I don’t know how I will fix this part of me, but one thing I do know is that I’ve found ‘The One’. It’s me!

With myself as my companion I’ve managed to travel great distances alone, get jobs, make friends, learn skills, and make a difference. I can support myself, treat myself and have fun, and I have the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, thanks to me!

I’m not saying I don’t want to find someone to complement me in a partnership and to share experiences with, but when you’re totally comfortable being by yourself, you can afford not to settle for second best and there’s really no hurry. If only I’d known that a decade ago.

Above everything I realise I value freedom. So I will leave you with these thoughts, if you value freedom too.

- Save money - it means freedom when spent on experiences and self-improvement rather than material goods, which trap you.

- Get your driving licence as soon as you can, then you’re free to roam.

- Free yourself of bad relationships so you have energy for the good ones.

- Develop a career, it will give you options.

- Feel free to decide for yourself what’s right for you.

- Don’t follow society, stand out. Be free and travel. Travel and learn.

- Make a difference while you can because you will be middle aged in a flash.

Disclaimer: These are personal views, not the views of The Lifehouse.Co