I was never an overly confident person. My teenage years are an era I would rather not ever relive. They were plagued with self doubt, lack of self-confidence and at times chronically low self-esteem. I wasn’t in the “cool” gang, I didn’t necessarily consider myself to be pretty and doing well in school was what I clung to. I did that to feel like I was achieving something, that I was making my Dad proud and that although I may not be overly popular at least I had good education results. Next month I turn twenty-eight, something I can hardly digest myself. Over the last ten years I have learned a lot about a lot and if I had time back would I do things any differently? Probably not, mistakes have made me who I am but I certainly would give 18 year old me some tips…
Friends- You’ll make new friends and you’ll keep old ones. You’ll drift too and from both groups. You may be able to combine both but the fundamentals of each of those friendships is different. You will bond with different people about different experiences and you will probably always relate to different friends about different things. Friends change, so will you. That’s ok. Let people go. I once read that sometimes people only come into your life to teach you something and then they leave. You will move at different paces to your friends. Emotionally you will all experience different things and you can’t expect them to be able to relate to your exact adventures and experiences, nor can they expect you to relate directly to theirs.
Relationships- You’ll fall hard, not often, but when you do you really do. Don’t lose yourself when this happens. Remember what you enjoy and make time for those things even in the depths of this new fascination. Remember that they will hurt. It will feel like no other pain that you have felt before but give yourself time and you will come through it. It doesn’t matter how long this takes, that is your business and no one elses.
Family- Your family, like every family, will have tough times as well as good. Remember that each have their own lives to live and you cannot control how they choose to do that. There will be disagreements as well as hilarious memories that only ye can relate to. Cherish them all.
Money- At times you will think that the definition of success is having money. It’s not. Money is necessary for survival, yes, but it shouldn’t dictate your life or how you choose to live it. Be sensible with it but also be adventurous with it. Go places, do things, spend savings to have that adventure.. It will always be worth it. Balance is key.
Confidence- This is a big one. You’ll struggle with this for a while but you’ll grow more self assured. That’s not to say you’re invincible. Of course you will have times when you feel vulnerable but you will learn to trust yourself and your judgement as you get older. Have confidence in your abilities, you will do things that people never thought you would do when you were younger. You will work hard at this one, sometimes too hard… but you’ll recognise this too in time. Know that you are your own rock, regardless of the situation. Allow others to help you but trust in yourself. Make sure others respect you and don’t hold onto people who don’t. Don’t allow them to diminish you in any way.
Take risks- Do the unexpected. Listen to your last minute gut instincts to change your CAO. Move to London right after college, give into the fact that it didn’t work and come back, move to Thailand, move to Prague, take up people’s invitations, feel the isolation and loneliness and lack of control, recognise when you want to return home and know that every mishap will teach you something. Be proud of the risks you have taken and don’t be afraid to take more. Listen to yourself and what it is that you really want and then go and get it and if you fail…. that’s fine too.