What would you say to your 16 year old self?
If you could hop in a time machine and visit yourself at 16, what advice would you give?
I have three kids, my eldest is 14 and going through all the usual teen traumas, he fully believes I have no idea what it is like to be a teenager and it got me thinking as to what would I say to myself if I could go back and speak to the young woman I was at 16.
People who know me now don't believe that I was a shy person, but to be honest I still have days of crippling self doubt and a reluctance to speak to people in case they find out I'm a fraud and not nearly as grown up as I seem.
But at 16 I was basically scared most of the time. I covered it with being loud and silly but I felt less than others around me, I idolised TOTALLY the wrong people and ended up boosting my self esteem (or so I thought!) with relationships with men who were, to be honest, fucking idiots!
Family life was difficult, I lived between home, with sisters, with an aunty, in a student house for a while and for a brief stint alone in possibly the most terrifying flat in Sheffield... I found myself entering the adult world feeling completely adrift, I had no idea who I was or where I wanted to go. I clung onto other people's dreams by following them into jobs and college courses that they seemed so excited about and so I thought it was the right path for me too. I drank alcohol because others around me did, I smoked, went to nightclubs and got myself into situations that were stupid and dangerous.
So what would I tell my 16 year old self? I'd tell her that it will all get better, that everyone feels that weight of doubt inside them and that there is no rush to grow up. I'd tell her that her weirdness is great and the sooner she accepts it the happier she will be. I'd tell her to stay in college and go to university because she'll regret it for the rest of her life if not. I'd tell her to travel the world before settling down and that kindness is the key to a happy life. I'd tell her to dump the man she is going out with because that dangerous flare of temper becomes a hell of a lot less sexy very, very quickly and that the man she will meet in a years time may cause a few tears and at times the relationship will be stressful but he will become her best friend, her soulmate and her husband.
I'd tell her that she can't help everyone, that sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away from a terrible situation as though she is only trying to make things better, it simply drags her further down. I'd tell her that self esteem can ONLY come from within and NEVER from the men she thinks will care for her.
I'd tell her that tequila is not her friend and it will end in a night where she will wake up in a fountain. (Don't ask!!)
I'd tell her she is enough. That she is good enough. That she has a kind heart and a good soul and the people who she wants in her life will see that, she doesn't need to pretend to be anything she is not, she shouldn't go along with the crowd and she should accept her ridiculous humour, weird personality and geeky self because it is enough.
I'd tell her that her two school friends will be her lifelong, closest friends, to hold them close and to remember that no matter how far apart you all are, they will always be the ones who will hold her up and make everything better.
I'd tell her that everything will work out, that life is filled with ups and downs but with a good attitude and strong self belief, any situation can be overcome.
I'd tell her that when you fuck up, an honest, heartfelt apology goes a long, long way.
That if you follow two life lessons of 'Just be nice' and 'Try your hardest' you won't go far wrong in life.
And I'd tell her if all else fails, go with your motto in life of 'If you can't sing well, sing LOUD'
So what would you say to your 16 year old self?
Love Sam xx
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