Teenage years are tough no matter who you are and when it comes to looking back at ourselves and our behaviour, hindsight is a beautiful thing. There is so much pressure on teenagers, especially teenage girls I would say, to look a certain way, behave a certain way, think a certain way and the worst thing is that there a pressures from every side and teenagers these days can't do right for doing wrong. There are so many things I would say to teenage me if I could - when I think back to me at the age of 14 or 15, it's like thinking of a different person and, probably like everyone else, there are so many things I would have changed.
(I was 14 on this photo and I am CRYING at it - what the bloody hell is with that side pony?)
IT'S GOOD TO BE CLEVER.
I don't know what it's like now but when I was a teenager in school, it wasn't seen as "cool" to be clever. Now, I'm not being big headed here (ok I am a lil) but I've always been quite intelligent and have always been "top of the class" and in primary school, I was always proud of that. But when I got to secondary school, I found that if you got 100% in a test, you were called a "swot", you were laughed at snidely and even if these people were joking, they weren't really joking. I remember sitting in an English class when I was 13, purposely getting three answers wrong in a test because I didn't want to get every single answer right and that is no joke. How sad is that? Fortunately I came out with excellent marks but there are so many teens who are scared to read a book in school or try really hard for fear of being laughed at but in the end, everyone looks back and says "I wish I stuck in".
STOP TRYING SO HARD.
At school, there are always cliques of people. There are the popular cliques and there are non-popular cliques and I was absolutely desperate to be popular. I tried so hard to fit in with the chav stereotype (that was what was cool in my day okay?!) and now when I look back at photos of myself during that time, I absolutely cringe (and I know many of my school friends do too!) However, when I got to around late year 10, I stopped trying so hard to fit in and I started trying too hard to be different. I tried to fit in with the "emo" stereotype even though that was never me. Just being myself never really even occurred to me and being honest, I don't think I knew what "myself" was. I just did what people around me were doing and like a lot of teens, I struggled to find my own identity.
(This photo was taken on my 17th birthday - oh how I wish someone had taught me how to do my make-up!)
DRIVING IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU'LL EVER LEARN.
When I was learning to drive, I made a right mess of myself. I was such a nervous learner and I hated driving lessons with a passion, so much so that my driving instructor reduced the mandatory two hour lessons to an hour and a half to make it easier for me. I don't know why I hated it so much but looking back now after driving for nearly five years, it is probably the most important thing I learned to do as a teen. I started my driving lessons right after my 17th birthday but didn't pass until the month after my 18th birthday and although I passed my theory test with 100% before I even started my lessons, it took me three tries to pass the practical driving test. On my second one, I was so anxious I was nearly sick over the dashboard, my foot was shaking on the clutch and when I reversed around a corner and hit the kerb, I started crying and refused to do any more (yes I was a bit of a diva.)
However, if I could go back to my teens I would tell myself to pull my socks up, pull myself together and bloody get on with it. Driving has opened so many doors for me and without it, I wouldn't have had my jobs, I wouldn't have been to university and I wouldn't have had the freedom I had in my late teens. Even though it's only a few years since I passed my test, there are so many new tools for young learners now that help you get through your driving test. Book Learn Pass is a website that allows you to practice your theory test, book lessons in your area and pass your driving test and I know I could have really done with this during my lessons. There are tips for passing your test, the highway code, tips on driving manoeuvres (something which I could have really benefited from considering I still can't reverse into a parking space!) and I cannot stress just how glad I am that I learnt to drive in my teens. It really is a skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
VISIT BOOKLEARNPASS.CO.UK TO GET STARTED!
YOU DON'T NEED A BOYFRIEND TO BE HAPPY.
I was one of those teens obsessed with having a boyfriend, equating my level of attractiveness with how many boys fancied me and I absolutely know that this true for so many teenage girls. It's not something that gets spoken about a lot but teenage girls are very vulnerable, very impressionable and thinking that your worth is determined by a boy's perception of you is extremely damaging. In the end, it completely destroyed my self-esteem and even though I was never a very confident teen anyway, I thought I was ugly for most of my young teenage years and really my confidence only improved when I matured and hit my twenties. I wish more teenagers would realise that they are not defined by the opinions of other people, the behaviour of other people and it's really sad how many teenage girls decide their worth, whether consciously or unconsciously, on how many guys want to see them.
SCHOOL IS NOT THE BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE.
Every single teen is bombarded with the phrase "school is the best time of your life!" and I know if that was true, I'd be bloody well screwed for the rest of my life. School was probably the worst time of my life - you're crammed into lessons you don't want to be in for 36 hours a week, with people you don't really like and no matter where you go, people in school can be mean. I know when I was 17 I was bombarded with anonymous messages online, calling me ugly, saying I had awful teeth, calling me an "anorexic skellington with a Bratz doll head" (that was the actual insult) and although I was never actively bullied in school, things like stay with you. When you put 1000 11-16 year olds together for that long, each of whom are going through the same thing, it will likely never end up in the best time of your life unless you are very very lucky. Things get better, people aren't always as crappy and the ones who are crappy at that time will look back in a few years and think "why the f did I do that?"
What would you tell your teenage self?
THIS POST IS IN COLLABORATION WITH BOOK LEARN PASS. ALL WORDS AND VIEWS REMAIN MY OWN.