So my teenage years weren’t that fun. Acne, angst and unpopularity plagued my existence and I imagined by twenty one I’d have it all figured out, I’d be cool, have friends and be out of the town I grew up in – known as ‘The Town Were Original Thoughts Go To Die’ (TTWOTGTD for short).
Having achieved the latter two I am still failing on the first and have come to the conclusion that I have figured out very little in the past five years, and that the major difference between me now and me then is now I have to pay rent.
However what I have learnt in the past few years came to the forefront of my mind this morning as a peculiar man about my (actual) age approached me on the way home from Sainsbury’s and as a preamble to hitting on me asked my age. I immediately lied and said I was sixteen. He then believed me which I was shocked at as I looked older than sixteen when I was sixteen (tall girls holla!). However it got me thinking about whether or not I would want to be sixteen again. I immediately said ‘absolutely not, no way, not a chance, never!’ but after a moment of reflection I concluded I would like to go back and fix the mistakes I made and erase the time I wasted if I’d only known what I know now.
Of course, I will probably be saying the same things at 30 about being 21 but regardless this is what I wish I could tell my sixteen year old self:
1. No matter how much Clash you listen to or Ramones T-Shirts you buy you are not emo if you refuse to dye your hair and still secretly love Britney Spears. And that’s OK because emo is not a good look for you.
2. Even though it hasn’t been your natural hair colour since you were eight, you look much better as a blonde. But whatever you do, DO NOT LET YOUR FRIENDS DYE IT FOR YOU!
3. You may be considered weird for being so passionate about politics at this age but don’t worry as soon as Obama gets elected other people will get interested enough to talk to you about it.
4. And don’t worry about those who still won’t; you’re smarter than them.
5. Don’t feel weird about being the only thirteen year old who read George Orwell/Sylia Plath on family holidays in your neighbourhood. There are others like you and you will find them at university I promise!
6. The popular girls in your class are lying about having sex. They also get up two hours before school to do their make up. True story.
7. Feminism is NOT a dirty word and ignore anyone who tells you to shut up about it.
8. You think you’re in emotional pain now? Wait until the shit really hits the fan in a year or so and then start complaining.
9. The three or four friends you do have are the most important people in your life.
10. You’re weird. You’re kind of insane. But most people will eventually think its adorable.
11. Boys are pretty much exactly the same as girls and have similar emotional pratfalls. Its OK that you sometimes prefer them to girls. Some of the boys you will meet in the next few years are the greatest friends you’ll ever have.
12. Some boys are lame and will break your heart though most of the time they don’t mean to. They’re just stupid.
13. In turn, you will accidentally break some boys’ hearts by not liking them back. Don’t worry and don’t let them make it your fault.
14. Disney movies, and kids’ movies in general for that matter, are amazing. Stop pretending you don’t love them. And give up on ever liking chick flicks no matter how many sleepovers ram them down your throat.
15. You are never going to be good at maths. Interesting people seldom are.
16. Stop avoiding your future. Getting out of TTWOTGTD is a noble life aspiration but given you achieve it at eighteen you need to come up with some ideas beyond that and get working on them in more ways than ‘saving money so I don’t have to come back’ ASAP.
17. You’ll still be self-absorbed at twenty one but you’ll also be more caring so it balances out.
18. Having online friends is not for nerds. Twitter is a fantastic invention.
19. You’ll still have no idea what you want or what you’re doing when you escape you adolescence. Good luck with that.
20. You will never stop tripping up over your own feet. Though you will learn how to style it out.
So what about the other lovely (and far more sophtiscated) AWOT ladies? Any thoughts, tweets, blog posts about what you’ve learnt since sixteen? I’d love to hear it.
Caroline is a student at Birmingham University. She’s also a freelance journalist and blogger, providing insights into political, social, and economic news from around the world. You can follow her on Twitter here, or you can check out her superb blog here.