I’ve seen a lot of posts like this floating around, and now I’ve finally sat down and written one myself. I’d been meaning to for a while, but actually it was surprisingly hard. It was difficult thinking back over my teenage years as there were a lot of hard times for me. It was difficult writing it all down, then editing out the bits I really, really don’t want out there.
Don’t Give in to Pressure
Whether it’s pressure to straighten your hair because it’s ‘cool.’ Pressure to do things you don’t want to do. Pressure to pretend not to know the answer in class. Just be yourself.
I only wish I’d felt freer to be myself when I was younger. I know without doubt that no-one I went to school with knew the ‘real’ me at all, and I was SO much happier at university when I wasn’t pretending to be someone else.
Be Kinder to Yourself
Actually, I should practice what I preach – even now I’m way too hard on myself. An assignment that’s not the top grade? Not good enough. A piece of work that has lots of room for improvement? I’ll beat myself up about it for weeks. Having an evening off to relax instead of studying/blogging/working/being productive? There’s virtually no chance I’ll let that happen.
I’m my own worst enemy, but I know I was far, far worse as a teenager. I cried for days over my final A-Level maths exam (and it actually still stings now – sitting here with a first class actuarial degree…).
Mum Knows Best
Unfortunate but true! Your mum really does know what’s best for you, particularly during the teenage years.
When I was 16 and looking round Sixth Forms, I was adamant I didn’t want to try and get into the (very good) local Boy’s School. Sure, it had excellent results, but I didn’t want to go to a school just because it was good. I didn’t want to be surrounded by boys. My mum nagged and argued until I eventually gave in and went to the Open Evening. She still champions the fact that I gave in that night, that I loved it. It took a lot of tears and shouting, but eventually doing what she’d been telling me all along got me into a school I loved, got me doing the A-Levels I really wanted to do, and I’m pretty sure that it paved my life path.
I also got together with W three weeks after starting at the Boy’s School – so mummy found me my future husband too…
Don’t Cut Your Hair Short
Seriously. Just don’t. The worst thing I ever, EVER did was cut my hair to a bob at the age of 13. It wasn’t a good look for me at all, those few months of growing it out (forever thankful that my hair grows super-quickly!) were awful.
Be Open to Possibilities
That spotty sixteen year old you’re dating? Those butterflies that don’t go away the further you get into your relationship? Yeah, you should have probably taken a bit more notice of them and realised just how much he meant to you.
I never expected to find my soulmate at 16. And I didn’t let myself think that way for a long time. I can actually pinpoint the exact day, the very afternoon that I realised W was the ‘one.’ It was nearly three years into our relationship. And our parents cottoned on before we did that this was ‘it’ for us.
But I also never expected that I could manage to do a mathematical degree. University wasn’t really a possibility for me until just a few months before applications opened (another part of my life when Mum knew best!). I didn’t expect to be able to train to be an Actuary – it was just a pipe-dream. Now I’m hoping to qualify in 2019.
I look back on how I was as a teenager (shy, anxious, petrified of classmates and extremely self-conscious) and I realise how far I’ve come. I definitely needed to have more self-belief back then! I don’t think I’ll ever look back on my early-teen years fondly, but they taught me a lot, they made me the person I am now – and it’s onwards and upwards from here!
What would you tell your teenage self? Any pearls of wisdom you’d like to share?