I feel like I was 16 a lifetime ago. I was in my last year of secondary school, going into my first year of sixth form. Now, with a few more years of wisdom under my belt, I thought I’d tell my 16 year old self some things.
Stop worrying so much about how you look
I think the transition from school to sixth form was a big one. We’d grown out of the awkward, not really developed bodies we’d dragged into school on the first day of year seven and into these grown up, ever changing ones.
A lot of people at this point had a “glow up”. They started wearing make-up, wearing their hair out and making the school uniform as fashionable as they could. I think that’s when I started to worry about how I looked. I had really bad skin in my teens and I didn’t fit the skinny girl ideal.
Those worries are still there at times. Wanting to be and feel beautiful is normal. I think I’m realising as I’m growing up, yes I don’t exactly fit the “perfect” woman stereotype, I’m beautiful in my own way and I think – before anyone else can, and does – I need to realise that.
School? You’ll get through it
I can’t think fondly of school, or at least where lessons, exams and academic pressure is concerned. At that point, and afterwards, I thought I’d never get through school. I had to re-do my maths GCSE, I wasn’t able to do the options I wanted and History was the bane of my existence.
You’ll compare yourself to other people and think why can’t I do as well as them in my essays? Take it from me (slightly older me) though, you’ll get through it and – better yet – you’ll get into uni and smash it, too!
Be grateful for your friends
I’m glad I can say that some of the people I’ve met at 16, and beyond, are still great friends of mine. I think I need to keep my friends close, realise just how good they are and appreciate my time with them.
Also, I think the breakdowns of a few friendships in the past have taught me to be wary of people and read the signals whenever they present themselves.
(You’ll thank yourself when you do).
Know your worth
I wish, at 16, I knew how great I was. I focus too much on the small things, or things I assumed are “big” things, and forget that my life (and me as a person) is actually pretty good.
You’ll have bad days
School is gross, growing up is gross, sometimes life is gross. You’ll have bad days but you’ll also have really good days.
Read that book
Being interested or “good” at school has always had some kind of stigma attached to it. I think being good at, and enjoying, English made me feel bad and weird sometimes. As someone who’s now got an English degree under their belt, I’ll tell you: read that book. Enjoy it. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Take care of yourself
You’ll go through patches where you don’t give yourself enough care or attention. Please do.
School is important, stuff after school is important. Having fun is important, too. So, do it!
Friends grow apart
As much as you’ll realise some people are brilliant and they’ll stick around, you’ll also start to see people’s true colours and you will grow apart. It’s ok, they weren’t worth it anyway.
You’re allowed to be quiet
Even before you were 16, people have complained about your shyness and encouraged you to speak up. You’ll get confident in due time but, don’t forget, you’re allowed to be quiet.
You’ll find your feet
You’ve spent a lot of time being compared to your sister but, give it time, you’ll find your feet. Your love remains and your bond will only get stronger but you’ll also find life without each other is ok..sometimes.
You don’t have to have your life figured out
Teachers. Parents. Basically any adult. What they all have in common, whether you’re 16 or not, is that they’ll put pressure on you to have your life sorted. You’re young, you really don’t have to know. You won’t know at sixteen and you definitely don’t know now. You’ll figure out soon but, honestly, no pressure!
Drop the blue eyeliner (you’re welcome)
You’ll go through a blue eyeliner phase. For future me, let that phase go.
Prince Charming doesn’t exist
You’ll read so much young-adult Fiction you’ll convince yourself this but, let me tell you, Prince Charming doesn’t exist. Plenty of boys do but, at the moment, the perfect person doesn’t.
You’ll find him, though!
There’s no pressure to find a boyfriend
Once you get to sixth form, and practically any moment that precedes it, you’ll feel pressure to find someone. People will get together, then they’ll break up, and you’ll still feel all woe is me why-am-I-alone?? It would’ve been nice at sixteen and, honestly, it’d be nice now. It’ll happen…give it time.
You’re doing great
At sixteen, or even after, you’ll have doubts. There’s a little voice in the back of your head, or a doubt in the pit of your stomach, that’ll tell you you can’t do stuff but – honestly – you can. Then, and now, you’re doing great.
Take it from…me (you??)