Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ten Things I Wish I Could Tell My Teenage Self

I think everybody looks back on their teenage years and wishes they could do it over, with all the things they know now. I expect in another ten years I will look back on my life right now and cringe at how stupidly I'm handling it all. Maybe I'll do a follow up in ten years' time! But for now, here are a few things I'd love to tell my younger self, and any awkward teenagers reading this.

1. There are sometimes more important things than 'just being yourself'! 
...Whoever decided to start telling kids that the best possible thing they could ever do was to be themselves at all times, was wrong in my opinion*. Sure, it's good to be proud of who you are and unashamed to do things differently, but at the same time, when you're an awkward fifteen year old girl who still has a shelf of Beanie Babies and plays Neopets religiously, there is a fine line between 'being true to yourself' and 'being a weirdo'. School is much, much easier and more enjoyable when you get along with everyone, and often this involves faking confidence and shutting up about your embarrassing hobbies.
          And anyway, a huge number of situations in life require us to wear a mask of confidence, professionalism, tact, etc. Putting on these masks does not make you 'fake', it is generally a sign of maturity and the ability to adapt your behaviour to different situations. So there.

2. Experiment with makeup while you can still get away with looking ridiculous.
I am 21 years old and I still haven't the foggiest idea where blusher is meant to go. I am not completely convinced of which colours of eyeshadow suit me, and I have never worn lipstick in my life. What's more, I may never know, because I have passed the age where it is acceptable to leave the house with foundation that looks like you plunged your face into a coffee cake, or huge swirls of blue eyeshadow like you're auditioning for clown school. I have to make do with a small amount of eyeliner and mascara, and concealer to cover up the crazy dark shadows under my eyes. It does the job, but I wish I could be a little more adventurous sometimes. So, go forth, young awkward self, and paint your face every colour of the rainbow. Roll around in glitter until you resemble a disco ball. Wax off your eyebrows and draw them back on. Enjoy yourself and learn from your mistakes!

3. Appreciate PE lessons, you'll miss them when they're over (honestly!)
I know you despise PE, and view it as a kind of torture designed to humiliate you and force you to shave your legs when you really can't be bothered. But, when you get to my age, you'll wish you had a loud and angry teacher forcing you at whistlepoint to run six laps of the school field and then do a long-jump and throw a discus. It's embarrassing, I know. You don't even wear a bra yet and you have to change in front of everyone. The swimming pool is freezing cold and there was a dead rat in it once. But you're getting fit and healthy. You can eat all the junk food you want, safe in the knowledge that you're burning it off three times a week and there's no avoiding it. Now, I'm lucky if I can persuade myself to walk up a flight of stairs.

4. You don't need a relationship - go out and have fun!
Between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, you will be perpetually in long term relationships. You will always be 'in true love' with one dopey guy or another, and in doing this you will miss out on the learning experience that dating and sleeping around and fancying someone who doesn't fancy you back can provide. You don't need a relationship, you are a child! Here's a hint: None of those guys are 'the one' so stop stressing out about them and focus on your GCSEs or something, damn.

5. Don't judge people by the way they dress or what music they like.
You are a poser with your stupid T-shirts that you got from New Look and the music that you only listen to because everyone says it's cool. You are not better than the chavs, or goths, or popular girls, or whoever else you look down your nose at. By the time you get to year 11 you will have realised this yourself and you will become a social butterfly who gets along well with more-or-less everybody and has a wonderful time. I am telling you this in the hope that you realise it a lot earlier on, and can enjoy several years at school without thinking your classmates are a different species.

6. Stop claiming that you are 'not like other girls'.
You have guy friends and you like wearing converse and riding shopping trolleys down hills. Great! But that doesn't make you less female, and it certainly doesn't give you an excuse to go on about how other girls are 'sooo bitchy' and 'they never have any fun because they only care about makeup and boys'. It's really sexist and you're promoting the idea that most girls and women are superficial and stupid, and that only the really special ones (like you!) are worth getting to know. If the boys you hang around with actually believe that crap, then they'll never respect you anyway, so there's no point in even trying to be 'one of the guys'.

7. Cut your hair.
Your hair is brown and frizzy and it sticks out around your head like a traffic cone. When you tie it back in a pony tail, you look like a baby from the front with a ridiculously high forehead and frizzy bits of hair flying out around your head like a halo of pubes. Cut your hair short, then you can just roll out of bed and spike it with some wax. You won't have to deal with long hairs moulting all over the back of your blazer and being called 'hairy horse back' and 'Ozzy' by the boys who sit behind you in Geography. Maybe somebody will call you a lesbian, but so what? Lesbians are cool.

8. Don't eat the cafeteria food.
To this day, the thought of those chocolate doughnuts soaked in grease, in their little paper bags that have turned transparent with all the oil, makes me want to vomit. The burgers are little burnt hockey pucks. The chips are flaccid and soggy and the cheese tastes like plimsolls. You spend so much money on awful food. Just imagine if instead of buying all that, you put your lunch money in a jar and saved up for something really cool, like an embarrassingly emo pair of skin-tight trousers or a HelloGoodbye t-shirt or whatever else you really like at the age of 15. Your arteries will thank you.

9. Your music taste is shit. 
Seriously, I know you think you're the bee's knees right now with your Taking Back Sunday and your Fall Out Boy, but really. Just stop. Ask your dad for some recommendations. You'll thank me later.

10. In just a few years, you'll look back on all of this and laugh. 
I know it seems like the end of the world right now because you kissed somebody else and you were meant to be in a relationship but now you're a horrible person and you'll die alone and unloved and your cats will eat your dead body ... but really, it's fine. You're not a bad person, you're young, human, and still learning about the world. It's okay to make mistakes, honestly! Oh and don't go on to date the guy you cheated with. You'll waste an entire year that could have been spent doing really exciting things instead of sitting in his room watching YouTube videos all night long.

*They are also responsible for Bronies, Furries, and all other terrible internet personalities.

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