Thursday, 18 November 2010

Talking To My (younger) Self

When I do manage to get some sleep (which is few and far between these days), I keep having the same dream.  Some how I manage to travel back in time and visit with my twelve year old self.  She's not the least bit surprised to see me, and we sit down and talk.  I try to advise her and steer her away from the wrong paths.  And this got me thinking; if I could really go back and talk to my younger self, what would I say to her?  I mean, me...?  I mean... oh, you know what I mean...

That's me; end of the front row on the left. Thankfully, you can't see the acne.
"The acne will fade."Between the ages of twelve and seventeen, I was covered in zits.  I was the human puss mountain and nothing I tried, (creams, lotions, facepacks, steaming, etc) got rid of them.  I was quite often teased at school because of it, but it didn't upset me anymore than having bad skin already did.  I definitely wasn't the only one with this problem and in hindsight I got off lightly compared to others, but at the time it was painful to look in the mirror.  I thought I would be spotty forever.  I was only cursed with really bad acne for about five years, but back then it felt like a lifetime.

"Wear your damn glasses!"

I was about thirteen when I had to start wearing glasses as I'm incredibly short sighted.  Over night I went from just being a regular girl to having a reputation for being a swot, a brainiac, a four-eyed-speccy-know-it-all.  True, I got above average marks at school, but that didn't matter before I got glasses, so why was it such a big deal now?  Again, I was teased about it but not very much.  Even so, I hated wearing them and would spend half my time squinting at the blackboard rather than put them on.  I know now that even if I didn't have glasses or acne, kids would have found something else to tease me about anyway.  It's just the way teenagers are.

"Nobody's perfect."
If the acne and the glasses made me feel ugly, my lanky hair and ever increasing bust made me feel like a freak. I wanted to be like the beautiful, popular girls at school, the ones with tiny skirts, big hair and bigger jewelery.  Their biggest worries seemed to consist of what they were doing at the weekend and crisis over running out of lipstick.  Life seemed so much easier and exciting for them, and I would've done anything to be included in their circle.  They seemed so perfect.  It's only now with the benefit of experience that I can see how vapid and shallow these girls really were.  They seemed beautiful because they caked themselves in make up which only goes to show just how insecure really they were.  And as a lot of these girls ended up having kids before the age of eighteen and ended up getting dead end jobs, maybe they weren't so perfect after all.

"Don't let the bullies win."

I think just about everyone experienced some teasing at school, but for me it occasionally took a turn for the worst and became bullying.  It was never physical, but the name calling, threats of violence and following me home got so bad that I was scared to go to school.  I would hid in the shadows with my head down, praying that no one would notice me.  It never occurred to me to tell a teacher.  That was something you just didn't do.  My mum knew there was something wrong, and it was a long before I finally opened up and told her.  She marched straight down to the school and demanded something be done.  She even managed to corner one of the bullies in the playground and put the fear of God into him,  She was my hero.  So, my advice to me would be the same advice to anyone who is going through any kind of bullying, be it psychological or physical; please tell somebody.

"Don't succumb to peer pressure (part 1)"
I had my first boyfriend at the age of thirteen, and I hated him.  He was ugly, smelly and kept trying to paw me liked some rabid animal.  And yet I stayed with him for a good few months.  The reason?  Actually, there were two.  The first being that his sister was a thug and threatened me with all kinds of horrors if I didn't go out with him.  The second was because all my friends started getting boyfriends and I didn't want to be the last one.  Yes, he was low life scum that I wouldn't have wasted my spit on if he was on fire, but hey, at least I had a boyfriend.  It was one of the prices I had to pay to keep up with my peer group.  And it really wasn't worth it.  I don't know why I was so desperate to fit in the first place, but I guess that's the mentality you have when you're a teenager.

"Don't succumb to peer pressure (part 1I)"

There was a boy in my class that I genuinely liked.  He wasn't considered to be one of the cool kids, but he had a wicked sense of humour and was always nice to me.  I admired him from a far for ages but never did anything about it, partly because I was too shy and partly because my friends didn't think much of him.  We got back in touch recently thanks to the joys of Facebook, and guess what I found out?  He had a crush on me too!  But would it have made any difference if I had known?  I don't know because my friends opinions of me mattered so much back then.  I should have put myself first and realized that if my friends really liked me, they wouldn't have cared who I dated as long as I was happy.  If it was a problem for them, then they weren't that good a friend to begin with.

"You're never too old to learn."
I started the 6th form with every intention of doing my A levels.  I was thrilled when the day came that I could walk into school without having to wear the uniform and I spent a lot of my time lounging around the common room between classes.  I left six months later.  I felt as though I was just so sick of school, of being treated like a kid (even though technically that's exactly what I was).  I wanted to go out and get a job and get on with life.  That was probably one of my biggest mistakes.  I should have gone to college if I was that unhappy at school, and got some qualifications that way.  Yes, I got some reasonable grades in my G.C.S.E's, but I could have got so much more.  It was such a waste.

"Choose your friends wisely."

I was always considered to be a bit "different", possibly because I enjoyed my own company and I found it difficult to make friends.  This may be because I'm an only child, but whatever the reason, I didn't have a huge number of friends at school, but those I did have I valued.  They just about all disappeared after I left school.  I tried making the effort to stay in touch, but it always felt like a one way street.  When a tragedy hit me not long after I left school I really needed my friends support, but only one of them was there for me and she too eventually faded away.  So, my final piece of advice would be, choose your friends wisely.  It's all well and good you being for them whenever they need you, but would they do the same for you if the role was reversed?

So that is what I would talk to the younger me about.  Of course, there are lots of little things as well, like no matter how fashionable pale pink lipstick is, it's not a good look, don't waste all your money on boy bands that will no longer exist in a few years and don't eat the burger you ordered at Burger King at your friends party because it will give you food poisoning, and many other words of wisdom too.  But what would you say?  If you could have a one-to-one with yourself as a teenager, what would be the one thing you would tell them?  Leave your comments below as I'd be interested to read them.

But then again having thought about it, maybe I wouldn't say anything to myself.  I think at that age, I just needed someone to listen.

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