5 things I would tell 16 year old me
There are a few things I would like to have tell my 16 year old self if I had the chance. Maybe you are 16 year old me or just someone looking for a little guidance or maybe you're wanting to offer a little guidance to someone else. I just hope you can take something from this for whatever reasons brought you here.
Being a teen isn't easy. But it's not all that different for everybody. As a teen you feel you different, unique and special and don't get me wrong, you are. Except as a teen you believe it's the bad things that make you cool and unique, mysterious even. your "suffering" sets you apart from everyone else. Don't play dumb, You know exactly what I'm taking about!
When I went to university I got to meet some amazing people from all around the world. What I took from these people was that we all suffered the same in school. That special and unique-ness that we believed our problems made us actually brought us together in a weird realisation that you aren't who you thought you were. What actually did define us in the end wasn't our uniform heart-aches but our skills, talents and breathtaking minds. You think you find who you really are in school but who you really find is what society is, and that is unfortunate. What I learn after school is what will define me, shape and reveal me for me. Cheesy I know but if I could have anticipated this I'm sure I would have done things differently!
I won't bore you with my school life, to be honest it was pretty typical; bitchy girls, changing schools, boys, fitting in, there is nothing new there, am I right?! But I think I could narrow down my entire school and teen experience to these 5 pointers:
"Stand up for yourself!"
Yeah this one sounds stupidly obvious, doesn't it? I remember coming home after some girls scored stuff about me into the desks in my maths classroom. The girls were in the year below me and my mum told me to stand up for myself, prove that what is on those tables isn't true. I remember getting really upset, she didn't understand, it wasn't that easy, nobody understands. But it was me who didn't understand! If I had went up to that cowardly group of girls and told them what they did was mean and unnecessary and that I would gladly clear any confusion about the rumour with them there and then then maybe they wouldn't have seen me as such an easy target. You don't need to get violent or malicious when it comes to standing up for yourself, you simply need to take that anger and distress and put it to one side and question why they would do such a thing not just to you but to anybody. Afterwards, when your adrenaline wears off, then it's okay to hug and cry into your best friend's jumper!
"Don't run away from your problems" and "Problems aren't as big as you think."
A two for one, yay! Anyways...
I ran. I ran to a different school in a different area. I know right? Crazy. In hindsight, I think I would have managed just fine if I had stayed at that school. After I left there was a new principal and the problematic girls in my class moved into the next year of school and matured a little so I think I would have been safe enough. At the same time I don't know and maybe changing schools is what saved me? I guess I'll never know. But one thing I'm sure of is if I was given the opportunity to do it again, I would have handled the whole fiasco differently because looking back, the problem that consumed my world wasn't as big as I'd thought. You should of course treat every issue in your life sensitively and with care because you never know the repercussions of your actions. I would suggest thinking about your problem now, write it down in bullet point form then review it. Score out bullet points that aren't really a big deal. For example, your putting off an essay:
- you don't know the topic well,
- Orange is the New Black is on tonight,
- you're not sure how to write the opening paragraph.
The point in bold isn't part of the problem so you can forget about that one. Now you can re-evaluate your problem! Still seem too big? Sit down with a friend, family or a teacher and bat some ideas around, you will soon see that you can handle it when you see you have support! Hey you can even come and tell me!
"You are stronger than you think!"
This is kind of a motivational result of the previous 2 points. Often you're left shaken when you've had to do something new and scary and that's okay! By taking on the new experience you have already made yourself that bit better and that bit closer to who you're going to be. But this also applies to your self-doubt. I have seen tons of girls beat themselves up and underestimate themselves. Some do it for the attention of friends and some genuinely believe they aren't capable of something, whichever applies to you, deep down we all are guilty of both and we know it. I'm going to talk about the attention-seekers first, the kind that put herself down before a test because she isn't smart enough or won't buy a dress because she isn't skinny/pretty/popular/etc enough only to have her friends gush over her telling her how smart she is or how skinny/pretty/popular/etc she is. This is a great way to feel lifted, better about yourself, to even feel better about your friendships knowing how much your friends care. The problem? There will always be that one person who honestly says something, not meaning any harm by it, like "I don't know, the dress does cling to your hips funny..." and of course your other friends jump on it, beating off the comment but when you're at home in bed about to fall asleep all you will be thinking about it that comment and rolling it around your head. The same goes for doubting yourself, not believing you're good enough to do or try something. You can only get better the more times you try something! Trust me, school work, singing, social skills...they all come with experience! Sure, I'm not the athletic type and I can't draw but I am creative and I use that creativity to add a certain je ne sais quoi to everything I do in life. My point is you should work on your own terms, you shouldn't care about other peoples opinions of something you care about or worked hard for. Don't let other put you down or laugh when you want to try something outside your comfort zone. Maybe you will make an incredible body building champ but you will never know if you decide never to try the gym because someone else exclaimed "You?! Go to the gym?! Good one!" Be your own boss and OWN IT.
"Let go of the past, forget grudges"
I would like to believe that I am the sort of person who can forgive and forget but deep down there are still some things which just eat me up inside. I mean sure, you tell the person "I forgive you" and you tell half a million other people that you put the whole thing behind you but, if it still haunts you to this day then I hate to break it to you but you are not over it. I'm still not sure how to come to terms with the demons of my past, when I figure it out I will tell you, I promise! But one thing I know for sure is if I spent as much time on the here and now as I do thinking about things that happened I would have so much more done in my day (and my meditative showers would be a lot shorter! haha) See each new transition in life like a rebirth. When you start into a new year at school, a new relationship or job don't carry the negative BS from your previous year/relationship/job over into your new one. You will thank me later!
"You will be disappointed"
Ha ha, this is a cheery one, isn't it? Okay no, what I mean is people will disappoint you, not you will be disappointed by growing up or life itself etc. The kind of people who will disappoint you are the ones who have it more figured out than you. They already know that the only person they have to please is their self so they don't really feel conflicted for disappointing you. The only person you should need gratification, acceptance and approval from is yourself! Don't go out of your way to impress anybody. You are such an amazing person (and you are yet to see all your amazing qualities!) so don't let people think less of you by grovelling for their attention. *sassy finger click*
Okay, 16 year old me, If you read this then please do that bullet point/sticky note thing you do and soak up this advice!! As for anyone else reading this, I really hope you found a little more light and guidance from my own experiences. I have tried to generalise this out but of course you should adapt it to your own experiences. I will probably do a more light-hearted adaptation of this in the future, think blue eyeshadow, boyfriends and miniskirts...haha!
Thank you for reading!