I will be turning 20 in just over a couple of months’ time and as I was thinking about this, I realised that up until this point, life hasn’t exactly been plain sailing. I’m not one for thinking back on the past, I much rather focusing on the present. But lately, I have been thinking about some of the things that I could have done differently or some things I wish I had known when going through my teenage years. There are things that I wish I’d known even just a year ago that I think could have changed so much.
So, as insomnia well and truly kicked in recently, I found myself lost in the midst of my late night thoughts and it’s where the concept of this blog post came from.
Here are just 10 things I wish I could tell my younger self if I ever got the opportunity.
Just be you
Where better to start than with a cheesy statement, right? Over the years, I’ve found it difficult to express myself with so many people. Many know me as being a shy little soul and I still am that person to some extent in some situations, but my close family and friends will tell you that I’m not actually that quiet and I can be quite confident when I want to be. I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my confidence over the past couple of years (I think it’s important to acknowledge an improvement you’ve made or that you are making), but I wish I could tell my younger self that it’s so important to be the real you with everyone you meet, not to hide behind a shy exterior. I wish I would have come out of my little shell a lot more than I did in so many situations but it’s still something I find difficult at times, I’m not sure why that is. I know I have the confidence and I continue to work towards showing that to those I meet.
Other people’s opinions of you don’t matter
I’ve mentioned the fact that I was bullied when I was younger on more than one occasion on my blog. I used to find myself caught up in what others thought of me and that was true up until the beginning of this year. I’ve heard people say some pretty harsh things about me over the years and I heard some of the worst things that’s ever been said about me in the last few months of 2017, things that made me doubt myself and who I was, (that’s not me being dramatic but I’ll dial it down now). After hearing the things that I did last year and going through a bit of a rough patch, I was finally able to convince myself that what others think of me is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
I know that many of us can get lost in trying to impress other people and I bet we can all admit that it does hurt when someone doesn’t think highly of you, but the most important thing is that you think highly of yourself (not in an arrogant way of course) and that those around you can give you the confidence to believe in yourself. I know that if I didn’t care so much about wanting people to like me during the last few years and especially last year, I wouldn’t have gone through the few months of hurt and self-doubt that I did go through. I wish I could tell my younger self what I tell myself now and that I’d realised sooner that people will always have judgements and opinions of you but they shouldn’t define who you are.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
I’ve always been the kind of person who strives to reach the best of their ability, I always want to succeed in whatever I do, which is a good thing in my eyes but something I’ve realised recently is that pressurizing yourself to do well or to make choices isn’t the healthiest thing to do. When I was at school, I put so much pressure on myself, I would revise until all hours, I would stress out on the days I had exams because I thought I’d suddenly forgotten everything and I had to read everything about 10 times over again. The truth of it is that I didn’t need to put that pressure on myself because deep down, I knew that I had the knowledge to pass my exams but I didn’t convince myself at the time.
I then pressured myself in terms of deciding what to do in the future, what career path I wanted to take and so on. I’ve realised that this pressure was so unneccessary and it’s more likely to make things worse rather than better.
Embrace your disability
I don’t mind admitting that when I was younger, my disability wasn’t something that I chose to embrace. I felt defined by it and I felt like others judged me for it. As I’ve grown up and learned to accept my vision impairment, I’ve learned that it’s so much more important to embrace it rather than feeling burdened by it. Yes, there are days when I feel frustrated by it but I now focus so much on the positives and I think I’ve done pretty well to do this over the years but I’d definitely tell my younger self to be proud of who I was/am and to embrace my disability the way I do now.
13 to 17 year-old me was not the best at talking about her feelings and to be honest, my 18 year-old self wasn’t much better. There’s always been specific people who I’ve been confident and comfortable enough to talk to openly about what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. I think I am much better now about talking about these things but it’s still something I’m working on. I wish my younger self understood the importance of opening up to people you trust, it’s something that I think I might be much better at now if I started working on it sooner.
You’re not alone
When I was younger, I used to feel so isolated in so many different situations. I think 2015 was the year that I was at my lowest point in terms of feeling alone. I had experienced a major deterioration in my eyesight the year before and I didn’t talk much to anyone about how it affected me and what my true feelings were during that time. It wasn’t until I started my blog that I realised that there are so many other people who are in the same boat. I not only started talking to others who were visually impaired but I also spoke to a couple of people about experiencing panic attacks and also living with chronic fatigue. It was at that point that I realised that there are so many other people out there who are going through something similar to me and it definitely brought me the realisation that no one has to go through something alone.
Don’t be afraid of using the cane
I started training with a long cane when I was about 8 years old and it’s safe to say that I absolutely hated it, I dreaded the thought of going out and using a mobility aid that made me different to everyone else. I didn’t pick it up again until I was nearly 17. Although it was still difficult to convince myself that it was so important to use my cane in order to gain independence as a visually impaired person, I was still skeptical by the thought of using it. But I am now so much more confident when using my cane and I know that people might still stare and judge but that doesn’t matter to me anymore because it gives me the independence I need. If I ever got the opportunity to tell my younger self one thing regarding my disability, it would be not to be afraid of using the cane because it’s much more beneficial than it is daunting.
Choose the right makeup shades
I started wearing makeup for all the wrong reasons, I wanted to cover up my spots and imperfections because I felt so self-conscious of them. I never took any interest in makeup until I started developing little imperfections so when that started to happen, I went into Boots, picked up the first foundation and concealer I could find, not knowing if they were any good or not and not testing out the colour properly. This resulted in me going into school the next day looking like an oompa-loompa (not a great look). So, if I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self something about beauty and makeup, it would be to take the time to colour match properly and don’t apply too much of the product because as well as being orange, your makeup will also look very cakey (also not a great look). I never used that foundation again so it was also a waste of about £10. I’d definitely do my research and look up some reviews if I was at that age again.
Accept braces the first time round
I was offered the chance to get braces when I was about 13 or 14 years old but I was terrified of the dentist at that point and I couldn’t bare the thought of having to go to the orthodontist every couple of months so I refused. If I had the opportunity, I’d definitely tell my younger self that it would benefit me so much to get braces at that age rather than waiting until I was 17. I would have most likely finished my treatment by now if I had braces when I was first offered them but now I am nearly three years in and there is still no sign that I will be getting them off anytime soon. I don’t mind having braces at this age and there’s nothing wrong with it of course, I just wish my younger self would have been a little less scared and jumped at the chance.
Failure can be a good thing
Everyone makes mistakes, everyone fails at something during their lifetime, it’s just a part of life (sorry, I have a habit of stating the obvious). I’ve definitely experienced failures during my lifetime but in the past couple of years, I’ve learned that it can be a good thing, something to learn and grow from. I used to get so upset when I failed something but I learned that it’s far more important to try something and fail rather than regretting never taking the chance. We can all grow from the failures we experience and it’s one of the most important life lessons that I’d tell my younger self.
Although it would have been nice to know and realise all these things when I was younger, I’m glad that I’ve been able to figure them all out over the years. I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made, I’m glad that I’ve experienced some failures because at the end of the day, we learn from all the experiences we have and I think it’s so valuable when we grow up and realise how many things there are to learn from in life.
What are some things that you’d tell your younger self? I’d love to hear what you have to say.