Ah, teenage youth. You think you know it all, the stress of GCSE’s and upcoming A-Levels all scare the life out of you, and what to wear to the party on Saturday night is the most important thing in your world as well as that hot guy you’ve been texting and also getting drunk underage – those were the days ey?
Looking back, I had an okay teenage life. I think at the time you see it through rose-tinted glasses but now on reflection I’m thinking ‘Lauren, straighten yourself girl!’ which is probably what we all think at some point in our lives (or on a daily occurrence). So, as a lesson to myself now and to younger teen Lauren, here’s the advice I would give her when having to face all those world-crippling issues of secondary school, boys, life choices, friends, and the internet – let’s give it up for being a teen *cue black hair flashbacks*
Being a ‘boff’ or ‘teacher’s pet’ isn’t a bad thing
What is bad is that people think name calling is totally hilarious. Whether you’re naturally studious, intellectual, or really have a passion for a particular subject, then just run with it. Allow yourself to work hard for the things that interest you, and if that means that you get on with your teacher or you are enthusiastic, don’t let anyone else stop you.
Don’t fear or comply with those who make you feel weak
Like I said in my 7 Things to Remember When Other’s Knock You Down post, you are a strong individual who isn’t going to let anyone steal your happiness. In school I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t unpopular, but I definitely felt the peer pressure; I started YouTube back in 2009 and quickly dropped it because of how others were reacting to it, and now I really regret that. Since leaving school, none of the people who made me feel pressured have influenced my life, and if I could have seen that better when I was 15, I think I’d have had a very difference experience of life now.
If you have a passion or hobby, go for it!
This links with the last point very well, whether you wanted to start a new skill, sport, or get online to create content, make some time to enjoy your personal interests. There is so much I wish I’d done as a teenager, but because it was drilled into me that ‘doing well in school is what you need right now’ I quickly dismissed anything outside. Experience is valuable, grades are just a piece of paper and a test of you on one day out of thousands. Allow yourself to be free.
Know when a ‘friend’ isn’t worth it
You know the one, the person who you desperately try to keep on good terms with because it’s easier to stay ‘friends’ than have them as an awkward encounter. If I could travel back in time, I would sit myself down and say ‘listen to Mum, these people are no good for you, and in 7 years time, you won’t even see or speak to them again – stop trying to please others.’
Internet is great, just don’t go on MSN for hours
I love the internet, the internet is my job and one of the best things I’ve discovered. MSN was also fun, but it ate up all my time. I would sit chatting online instead of seeing people – now I think it’s madness a bit. I would have definitely made myself go outside a bit more, and definitely cut some MSN ties.
Be strong and assertive
A pretty big one for me, as I spent most of my life and teenage years in fear of others, their feelings, and letting people down. I wish I’d said no to more people, shut them down and called them out on crap, and stood up for what I wanted a lot earlier on instead of causing panicky traits that are still taking time to go away. DON’T FEAR THE MAN, BE THE MAN!
Leave your skin alone
Seriously, just leave it. Don’t use face wipes either, and use better skincare. Also don’t layer on all the Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse, it’s probably not helping.
Conceal, don’t feel? Let it go!
Yes I just quite Frozen, but in reality, I would have told myself – like in the strong and assertive point – that I shouldn’t hide my feelings and thoughts, and definitely express my opinions in RE because I was much more of a ‘keep your head down and highlight everything’ kinda girl rather than a ‘UTILITARIANISM IS RIGHT BECAUSE OF THIS’ person. Express your opinions and ask questions!
Teen relationships don’t always last
Not necessarily ‘romantic’ relationships, there’s also relationships with TV shows and characters – Doctor Who was never the same once David and Russell T Davis left – and even musicians or YouTubers – I was the biggest Midnight Beast fan, and remember being one of the first 300 odd people to watch their Tik Tok parody. Now I’m so selective and slightly obsessive over new people (Dan and Phil, be my friends) and on reflection of my teens, the person you’re dating is 95% not the one you’re going to stick with. Get over it and move on.
Expand yourself outside of school
As I mentioned with having passions and hobbies, if you want to go and do photography outside of lessons, do it! If you want to swim, do it! If you want to learn how to herd sheep, go give it a try! Experience, it’s all experience.
Save your pennies from Topshop
The amount of money I spent on clothes and bits from different stores and then later through away as a teen actually horrifies me. You don’t need a new dress for every party, don’t buy all the on-trend pieces, be selective, find things that actually fit, and please don’t buy sale items because they’re sale. Use the money to save for something you NEED, not want this week for a party.
Don’t dye your hair black
More of a personal one. It’s a mistake Lauren, just, don’t. Also, don’t bleach your hair with XXL because it will be yellow, or at least use Silver Shampoo. And also, when a certain someone says you’re ugly with brown hair, that’s the moment you need to start avoiding them.
Don’t focus too much on now or the future…
…but have some ideas. I was always in the moment of ‘must do well at school, must get this grade, must please my teachers, must please my family’, when really I should have been saying ‘what interests me? What makes me happy? What can I do to excel myself more?’ Ask questions, not just to your teachers, but to yourself. I’m lucky to have supportive people around me, and I think if I hadn’t felt pressures from other sources, I could have sat down with them aged 14 and discussed options that may have made my teen years a lot different.
The most important thing to take from this is to not live in regret. There’s some things I do regret, it’s a given, but a minute later I forget about it. So I quit YouTube and blogging in 2009 and could have been more established now, I obviously wasn’t ready and hadn’t made the journey I needed to make to be who I am today – more balanced, focused, and hardworking in what I want to achieve.
Your teenage years shape you, but they don’t define you, they are a learning curve and a time when you can make key decisions, but ultimately they are a time where you need to discover who you are and learn not to be afraid. Teenage me, thank you, but now it’s time to allow myself to be who I want to be.
What advice would you give your teenage self? Do you have any regrets? Would you go back and change it all or are you happy with the way things have turned out?
Lots of Love,
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