Looking back, there are a lot of things I wish I knew at 16. Who knows how it would’ve impacted my life! I wonder if anyone else can relate to them too?
1. Friends will come and go, it’s natural. Sadly, there’s nothing that can really be said about this. It’s natural for people to grow up and grow apart. When I was in year 7 and 8, I had a group of friends that eventually broke up because of a boy – I had nothing to do with the argument as I was on holiday at the time and was so confused when I came back – but I have never had a group of friends since then. I became the ‘social butterfly’ and had just one or two friends from each social group. The same happened when I was at uni. It was great because it meant that I could turn up to the SU bar on my own and be able to talk to anyone! Eventually I lost touch with most school friends because they all went off to Unis across the country, and my Uni friends all graduated and got jobs across the country. But it’s okay. I’ve got the memories of those friends and the photos of the good times we shared. Nowadays I have about 4 friends. None of them live locally anymore so it’s not easy to meet up with them without precision planning first, but when we do meet up, it continues from where we left off, with no awkwardness whatsoever. That’s how you know it’s true friendship!
2. It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do in life. I’m 25, started working as a graphic designer, retrained and qualified as a teacher, have a comfortable job in a boys school and I still don’t know if this is actually what I want to be doing! When I was 16, everyone else at my school seemed to know what they were doing, what subjects to take at A level and exactly what Uni they wanted to go to. I hadn’t a clue! I just studied the subjects I thought I would enjoy. It’s okay! I’ve already retrained once, I can always do it again. If at first you don’t succeed…
3. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to go to Uni. This one kinda continues from number 2. I went to a top all-girls grammar school that was, looking back, very pretentious and very concerned about their statistics. When I said I didn’t want to go to Uni, they were very annoyed and tried to make me fill out the UCAS forms. Of course I am incredibly stubborn so it got us nowhere. What was the point in wasting thousands of pounds in fees if I couldn’t find a subject I wanted to study and didn’t know what I wanted to do anyway? It took me until I was 20 years old to make the decision to go. There are plenty of ways to study later on in life – evening courses, be a mature student, study with the open University, even take GCSEs and A levels from home!
4. You will never marry the guy from McFly. Sad but true, not unless you are in the right place at the right time… You’ll find someone much better anyway 🙂
5. That girl is only saying that because she’s jealous. I went to an all-girls school and it could get very b*tchy. Even now my feelings can get hurt. Sometimes my SIL would say things that make me feel very inferior and intimidated. Now that I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve realised she’s just as self-conscious as I am.
6. Enjoy your freedom. Enjoy having no responsibilities: no bills!!!
7. Don’t try to fit in. Just be yourself! You’ll only look back on it and regret it anyway, and chances are you probably won’t be friends with them later on in life if you have to keep trying to be something you’re not.
8. Take care over your appearance. I wish I had looked after my skin and teeth more. I have quite oily skin and therefore had a lot of spots growing up. I still get them every now and then but thankfully nowhere near as bad as they used to be! I wish I had looked after my skin more back then as I am now left with loads of marks and blemishes.
9. Never cancel a ‘date’ with a friend to hang out with your boyfriend. I know it may seem like the end of the world if you have to be apart from him for a few hours, but honestly, it’s not. If he’s the one, you’ll have the rest of your lives to spend together.
10. It’s okay to try something once. In my opinion, it’s better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do… unless that something involves breaking the law, bullying or endangering yourself or someone else, in which case this rule does not apply!!
11. It’s okay to make mistakes. You don’t have to be perfect 100% of the time. Just make sure you’re honest about it. You will always learn from your mistakes and putting too much pressure on yourself can cause incredible amounts of stress and upset. When I was in Sixth Form, I hated the subjects I studied. I chose them because I thought I would enjoy them, but I really didn’t. I put so much pressure on myself to succeed but my heart just wasn’t in the subjects and it all backfired. I opened my results envelope and I cried. I was embarrassed and I thought I would upset my family. The truth is, regardless of the grades I received, they were proud of me! It’s okay to make mistakes because the people who truly care about you will love you no matter what.
12. You’re not as ugly as you think you are! I hated having photos taken of me, and I went through the phase of covering every part of me by wearing baggy jeans, hoodies, an unhealthy amount of eyeliner and covering my face with my hair. Truth is you’re still growing! People grow differently and have different body shapes, as my dad would say, “you’re grown, not manufactured!”. Just smile and be confident. That’s all the beauty you will eve need.
13. No-one will ever look like the girl in the magazine. Even the girl in the magazine doesn’t really look like that!! It’s true, I’ve done the Photoshopping to prove it back when i was a graphic designer. I absolutely hate it, but it’s not going to change.
14. You’re heart will get broken, but it will heal! All you need is time, ice cream and good friends.
15. Guys are just as sensitive, just as self-conscious and just as dramatic as girls. Sometimes they’re worse!!
16. Treasure every day. Smile, laugh and take photos. Take chances and treat others how you would like to be treated. If you love someone, tell them – what have you got to lose? Your life can change in the blink of an eye, for good or for bad. When I was 22 my best friend died in a motorbike accident. My bf had invited me on holiday in Devon with some of his friends, but as we hadn’t been dating long and I had only met his friends once, I asked if I could bring a guest. We waited for my friend to arrive but he never did. A part of me died too when I found out. Getting a phone-call from the Police is something I never want to experience again. Every day is a gift, so make the most of it. Get up, go out and do something. Carpe diem!
Great post Steph. So very very true. All the silly things we fretted about at 16! Like you said life is precious 🙂 H xx (www.littlehelsb.com)
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