Five Things I Wish I’d Known At Thirteen
Thirteen is a tricky age (so is forty actually, but that’s another story). Like most children I hotly anticipated this age, imagining that life would be very, very different when I was finally a teenager. This birthday coincided with a recent move when I, along with my mum and little sister, relocated from north to south. All the stars were in alignment – I was going to reinvent myself as a sorted, independent, popular and most importantly, COOL person. I was ready.
So turning thirteen was something of a disappointment to me. I did not magically transform into a different person. I was still me – just with slightly higher expectations. Nothing had changed except my hair became even more problematic and the misery that I felt on Sunday evenings, contemplating the week ahead, now seemed to engulf me. I was left with the dawning realisation that I was possibly not going to be wildly successful at being a teenager.
I am not at all convinced that hindsight is a beautiful thing. I’m sure that, actually, I was probably given many insightful and helpful words of wisdom about how to cope with my teenage years by my incredibly supportive mum. But the benefit of her knowledge didn’t really change the fact that I was having to go through this on my own – just like all my friends and every single teenager before and after me. Nothing unique or special or individual. Perhaps that’s part of the problem.
So, even though I know I would have completely ignored any advice that I was given, here are the five things that I wish my thirteen year old self could have truly known and believed (not just shrugged off with a whine of “you don’t even understand what it’s LIKE to be my age….”).
1. This is NOT it. Your life does not end up being all about the teenage years. In fact, by the time you’re forty, most of those years will be a bit of a blur.These years are totally NOT the best years of your life, which should come as a massive relief to you. And you see her? Yes – that girl over there. The one with the excellent clothes and all the friends. The COOL girl. The one who makes your life a misery. You’ll have stopped caring about how she made you feel by the time you do your GCSEs.
2. You can order books from the library. Yes, really! It took you a really long time to learn this little gem and you had to suffer rereading the Miss Read Village School Books for WAY TOO LONG. In fact, those books are probably why you became a teacher. Imagine what you could have been if you’d broadened your reading horizons at this impressionable age.
3. You will make your peace with your hair. Ok, I’m not saying that you’re ever going to feel that it’s your crowning glory, but I promise you – one day, when you’ve just about given up, you will discover hair straighteners. Too late for your teenage or university years, I’m afraid – but early enough to make you appreciate the wonders that is GHD stylers.
4. Being an adult is genuinely great. You get to choose. You can go to bed when you want (which, ironically will be much earlier than you wanted to go to bed when you were thirteen) and you get to make your own mistakes. Which means that you can’t moan about them. Which actually helps. Being an adult is also pretty tough at times so remember what’s important. Loving others. Being loved. You cannot even imagine, at thirteen, the people you will meet and the people who will eventually be your family, but take it from me. They are awesome beyond your wildest expectations.
5. Care less. Seriously. Be confident that you can make choices – be brave when everything seems frightening. Trust yourself. And please, please, please stop giving yourself such a hard time when you get it wrong. Try to look up once in a while instead of constantly worrying about what’s beneath you. If you can master this then your life will be a whole lot easier.