When I was 16, I was often called fat (I was a size 10/12 and clearly nothing of the sort) and often felt inferior to my friends. I worried about the size of my waist far too much, and about my maths GCSE far too little. I didn’t want to admit that I liked history, reading and learning in general, and as a result, I wasted far too much time pretending to be someone I wasn’t. It was exhausting.
Now, as some of my friends have daughters rapidly approaching teenagerosity (little Louise Rennison tribute there), I wanted to share that advice; my take on what is truly important, and what may seem like the most important thing in the world right now, but probably doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.
I’m still on the fence about which of these two camps the One Direction hiatus falls under.
There are so many things I wish I could say to my 16-year-old self, but they all boil down to the same thing – be true to who you are, not who you think people want you to be.
Those people who tell you that reading is for losers, that you’re too fat to fancy, or that your forehead is the size of an airplane landing strip are complete knobbers, and really aren’t worth your time. Don’t let their comments become nasty little voices in your head telling you that you’re not good enough. You are.
As we’ve covered above, people can be cruel. Sometimes, they say things without thinking or make a nasty comment because you’ve had a row, and other times, I’m afraid they’re just mean people. So, make it your job to build others up, not tear them down.
It doesn’t matter if no-one else likes it.
So, you like history. And spelling. That’s cool. You should never, ever, ever feel as though you have to hide who you are (and that includes deliberately spelling things wrong so you don’t stand out). As a grown up, a large part of your job will be spelling things correctly, and a large part of your social life will revolve around the 1940s and 1950s, so you may as well embrace it now, instead of waiting another ten years.
No-one cares what you did in school.
Literally no-one I’ve met in my adult life has asked if I was popular at school, and whether I smoked and bunked off at lunchtime or spent all my time in the library. So stop trying to be ‘cool’ and do what makes you happy (and know that if you truly embrace it, all that reading you’ll do while walking to lessons will come in handy, should you ever want to read a book while travelling in London during rush hour).
You’re great, just the way you are.
I know, it feels like the size of your waist is more important than anything – your GCSEs, what’s happening with Ross & Rachel, Craig David’s next single – but you’re damaging your body with the cycle of starving and bingeing (which, by the way, also makes you rather grumpy and unpleasant to be around). I don’t have any easy answers, but I promise that the people who matter will love, respect and admire you however you look. And why wouldn’t they? You’re intelligent, funny (even if you do love dad jokes), and, when you’re not a walking ball of hormones, you’re very kind. And, just so you know – when you go to university and get a job, everyone will want to know what ideas are in that big, beautiful brain of yours, not what dress size you’re wearing.
Wear what you want.
Talking of clothes – I know those blue PVC trousers look amazing on your size 8 friend. Her, over there, with the long legs. But just because she bought them, doesn’t mean you have to get them too. If you want them because they make you feel amazing, go for it, but never feel like you should wear something just because everyone else is. And on the same topic – those 1950s dresses you love, but “would never have the confidence to wear”? Try one. You’ll never look back.
Talk to the geeky boy in drama.
See that boy over there with the glasses and the Pokémon cards? You’re going to marry him. And he is spectacular. He will make you laugh until you cry, does a cracking rendition of the Grease megamix, and makes you go all fizzy inside when you think about him. Most importantly, he’ll love all the things about you that you thought you had to keep hidden, and will actively encourage you to shout about them. He’ll also introduce you to Doctor Who, which will very quickly become one of the loves of your life – I’m as surprised as you are, believe me. He’s far too mature for you right now, of course, but instead of wasting your time with people who are wrong for you (and those who are just plain wrong ‘uns), why not go and say hi, and save yourselves some time?
Finally, 16 year old me, you’ve got a turbulent few years coming up 2006-2008 are pretty hideous, but advice for the 21-23 year old me will wait for another time), but I promise it all comes right in the end. Oh, and go give your mum a hug, eh? I know you love her, she knows you love her, but it doesn’t hurt to show it once in a while.
If you’d like to read some fabulous advice from lots of other inspirational ladies, you can view the full post here: http://missevelynjo.com/2016/01/26/to-the-16-year-old-me/