I recently found a stack of diaries from my angst-ridden teenage years that rivaled a spotty adolescent male’s porn stash. As I flipped through the gel-pen-scented pages filled with wobbly cursive, I was struck by how anxious and unsatisfied I was aged thirteen. My often inane, sometimes touching accounts of life as a teenaged girl were permeated with self depreciative comments and claims to, ‘hate everything’. The underlying narrative voice throughout my teenage diaries was an impatient one. I just wanted to know that life got better.
As I read through these old diaries, I started to imagine what I would say to my weird little thirteen year old self from my current status as a loved-up, employed and semi-accomplished twenty three year old, if I had the chance. Here’s my letter to my thirteen year old self – I think a lot of us would want to tell our younger selves similar things.
What I wish I could tell my younger self
Your life has not even begun yet. Everything will get a lot better, I promise. It will be okay.
I wish I could just give you a hug and reassure you. I don’t want to spoil anything, but just know what everything you are worrying about now will be so insignificant one day.
High school will not be the best years of your life. Actually, high school will be a bit sh*t. The best memories you made there are the ones you made when you were skipping class.
You will get everything you ever wanted. You will get good exam results, travel, go to a prestigious university, and live in a cool flat with all your new friends. You will find decent people everywhere you go, so don’t be scared about leaving home. You will meet people who are just your people and have incredible friendships with them. You’re a lucky girl. You will go on dates and holidays with your girlfriends and music festivals and eat at fancy restaurants and wear high heels and lipstick. Nicer heels and lipstick than the girls at school – there won’t be a kitten heel or a foundation lip in sight. It might not feel like it now, but you will.
At thirteen, you’re just entering a new chapter. Writing to you from 23, I wouldn’t do it again. Well, not the next few years, anyway. They’re going to be a Hugo Boss Femme scented blur of puking in the work toilets, being in trouble, and sneaking around after the last bus with people you don’t even like.
In the grand scheme of things, the fact that girl may or may not have made a bitchy comment about you in passing will not matter. Seriously, forget about it. When you’re 20 you will be living and she will be living in the arse-end of nowhere with three kids and no idea how she ended up there or where she’s going. That’s her path, let her take it. You won’t know where you’re going either, but in an exciting way.
If you peak in high school, it’s all down hill from there. Your time will come. When you’re 18 you will have a cracking figure and people will like you for it, but that’s a ridiculous thing to feel smug about so don’t let it get to your head. That’s all they’ll like you for.
And by the way, 18 isn’t old. And neither is 23. In fact, you’ll probably never feel like a proper adult.
Stop wishing your life away. The memories you’re making now will be precious to you one day, for all sorts of reasons. Some because they star people you love, or loved once but will never get back. Some because they show you how far you’ve come. Others just because they epitomise being 13 and clueless. Eating copious amounts of nutmeg won’t get you high. Sleeping in the supermarket car park instead of your warm bed is never going to be a good idea.
That boy smells like BO and will end up hanging out in damp back lanes with 14 year old girls who are only there for the vodka (just like you once were) while you are travelling the world; stay away from him.
Don’t wind that brush around your hair; it will get stuck and you will have a terrible haircut for months. Stop wearing baggy black clothes – you’re a 13 year old school girl, not a depressed extra from The Craft. Actually, go ahead and wear whatever you feel like wearing. The cringe-inducing pictures will show you how much you’ve grown one day.
Maybe have a little think about some things before you do them though.
You are ridiculously narrow minded right now, and your understanding of the world will be blown wide open, thank God. The person you become will surprise you. You may be disappointed about some things, but those things are unavoidable, in shaping the bits that you would be proud of. I hope I haven’t let you down. Maybe I have compromised some of those headstrong beliefs you prided yourself on, but it was necessary, honest. In hindsight, most of your beliefs were really frigging naive.
Actually, here’s a list of things you will learn at 21. Only I don’t really want you to read it yet because you’re not ready to hear it.
Stop making things hard for yourself. Seriously.
Take up some kind of sport. Your metabolism will catch up with you when you’re 19 and at uni and your interests include gorging yourself, sitting down, and cider.
Your hair will never behave and you will never have high cheekbones. Sorry.
Don’t be so rude to your teachers, you’ll feel like a d*ck when you’ve left school and become their equal.
I know this is difficult because you don’t even know who you are, but always be yourself. It will just be embarrassing if you try to be someone else. Don’t pretend to like things you think are sh*t. That is not the definition of cool.
I can’t tell you what happens after university, because I’m yet to find out myself. I promise it will be good though. Yes, you will be 23 and still won’t know what you want to be when you grow up.
Your friends will be integral in shaping the person you become, so be aware of that when choosing who to surround yourself with. I could tell you to stay away from certain people now, but the role they play in your life will actually be very important, so go ahead. Love them and laugh with them and devote yourself to them wholeheartedly and blindly. You will be hurt but you need to be – pain exists so we can endure it and grow as a result. It’s going to be pretty sh*t sometimes, sorry.
Things will change, a lot. Embrace the bad with the good. You might as well, because there’s nothing else you can do. Keep taking photographs and writing everything down in your diary. Some of the stuff that felt like it was going to make your head explode, you won’t even remember in a few years. The rest will seem hilarious, or poignant in its naivete and innocence.
Above all, you’ll be okay.
Oh, and Beyonce will rule the world.
What would you tell your thirteen year old self? Share it in the comments! xx