I’m 22, and sort of feel like I’m going through a quarter life crisis. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, where I’m going and feel like I’m constantly looking back at my life choices so far thinking “What if I did this instead?”
With this in mind, I have been dwelling on my teenage years and have come up with the following things that I would say to my past self.
1.Embrace your curls.
So I went to a predominantly white high school. I absolutely loved my school years, but looking back I can see that I was subconsciously living my life by white beauty standards. It definitely wasn’t a conscious decision but being surrounded by my peers and their silky smooth hair, I probably felt like my hair needed to be straight in order to be socially accepted.
My primary school was extremely multi cultural and there I was able to embrace my hair. I would wear my hair in braids most of the time, however, this hairstyle was not allowed in my secondary school (I know right?!). Having only ever been able to keep my hair tidy in braids, I struggled with curly hair styles that I thought would be accepted at school so I continued to straighten my hair. At roughly the age of 14, my mum and I decided to get my hair relaxed. At the time I thought it was the best decision ever as my sole goal with regards to my hair was to get it as straight as possible. From the age of 14 to 18 I repeatedly relaxed my hair once to twice a year. (For anyone not familiar with the relaxing of hair, it’s basically where you use pretty abrasive chemicals to chemically straighten out your curls.)
I think the halting of this procedure came from a mixture of leaving school and growing to an age where I could research into alternatives and make better choices for my hair and health alike. (Relaxing chemicals are known to have negative health implications) I decided to grow out my relaxer and finally embrace my curls when I was about 20 years old. Since then I have straightened my hair maybe 3 times and everyone I know has told me they prefer my hair curly. Most of all my friends from school who I was trying to fit in with question why I ever used to straighten it in the first place!
Had I have embraced my curls, I would have the longest, healthiest lushest hair ever, but hindsight is a great thing!
2. Look after your skin.
Not only is this something I would tell my past self, but it’s also something a need to listen to at the moment! I’ve always had relatively problematic skin and wondered why, when deep down I know it’s due to my bad diet and lack of skin care. I’m just soooo lazy, I fall asleep with my makeup up on at least 5 times a week and then I wonder why I wake up with a new friend in my chin.
I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was about 15 (I think!) but I know for a fact that I wasn’t using any moisturisers or eye creams underneath. I would definitely recommend using anti-wrinkle creams from a young age, especially for the eyes, as I believe they are more preventative methods rather than curative.
The other thing I would tell myself would be to only wear what I need. This sounds obvious but I know a lot of people who wear a full face of makeup when they have perfect skin. My skin has never been perfect but I went from not wearing any makeup at all to a full face of MAC Studio FX plus concealer, blusher etc. which I think was a bit of overkill for my young skin.
3. Do what you love.
Through school I was pretty academic, achieving moderately high grades in all subjects. However, my strengths lied in the more creative ones. I took Fine Art and Media Studies at GCSE Level and went on to pursue Fine Art at A Level. I think these subjects were looked at as ‘a bit of fun’ alongside the ‘real’ subjects. Ultimately, this view swayed my decision to pursue a very academic, ill-suited degree at University.
I can vividly remember discussing with some family members how I wanted to look into Fashion Communication courses at a local Media College following Sixth Form. This suggestion was quickly swatted away as if it was something so ridiculous that I should never have mentioned it. There were comments like “I thought you were going to go to University to do a real degree?”. At the tender age of 16, your family members’ views are, unfortunately, very important in shaping your decisions. As a way of essentially trying to impress them as well as my teachers at school, I decided to go on to study Law at University which, if you’ve read my bio, I hated and ended up dropping out after 2 years of absolute misery. My University life is a whole story in itself so I’ll save that for it’s own post! But the point is, is that I should not have jeopardised my future and long-term happiness for the temporary happiness of my family and teachers.
4. Do you actually want to go to University?
It’s a simple question, yet one I never actually asked myself. I went to a prestigious High School where the only real option if you’d stayed on until 6th form (which pretty much everyone did) was to go to University. Filling out our UCAS application was number one priority – completely dodging the question as to whether you actually wanted to apply in the first place.
University is a big decision. Not only is it ridiculously expensive, but it is also a very big, official step in the direction of your proposed career; a pretty life changing choice to make at the age of 16.
I always knew I wanted to travel and I pat myself on the back for going against the grain and taking a year out after Sixth Form to live and work in Fiji. I made the decision quite early on that I was to take a year out of my studies to pursue this, but amongst this decision making, I never really questioned whether or not I wanted to go to University.
School make it seems like it’s something that needs to be done as soon as your A Levels are completed but I have to disagree. It’s a huge decision which needs real thought and commitment, and rushing into something so important without any thought will only result in failure.
I’m not saying that I didn’t want to go to University but I’m also not 100% sure that I did. All I do know is that had I have sat down and actually decided for myself whether it was the best route to go down me at that point in my life, then I wouldn’t be sat here typing this with £32k worth of debt hanging over my head and no degree to show for it.
5. Stay in Fiji longer! Travel more.
So yes, I went to Fiji in January of 2012 after working all the hours under the sun at Starbucks to save up for my flight ticket. I stayed with family as I’m lucky enough to be a quarter Fijian and have family dotted all over the Islands. I volunteered at a school for young children with special needs and had the absolute best time of my life. I met some life long friends and would give anything to be back in tropical paradise. I ended up staying there for 4 months even though I wish I’d stayed there up until I was supposed to start uni (or longer if I decided at the time that uni wasn’t for me!). Looking back on it, I came home because of my ex-boyfriend. Honestly, I didn’t miss him so much that I absolutely had to come home but I remember how gutted he was when I suggested I wanted to stay longer and I sort of felt like I had to come home on my due date so as not to let him down. I vividly remember my mum saying that I would regret this decision in years to come, and boy was she right! In fact, I think I started regretting it about 4 hours after landing in the UK!
6. The Law of Attraction
Speaking of boyfriends, my current boyfriend (I don’t mean current as in his status is likely to change, I mean not the ex boyfriend I was just talking about. God this makes me sound like a floozy, but yeah..) introduced me to the theory of the Law of Attraction. It’s a theory most notably outlined in Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret – a book I highly recommend for anyone and everyone! I wish I’d discovered this book at a young age as I definitely used to dwell on the negatives and wonder why things weren’t working out as I wanted them to. If anyone is not familiar with the theory, it’s basically where if you think positive things, then positive things will happen. The Universe will reflect the same vibrations you give out. If you think this is a bit ‘hippy’ or radical then please read the book; you won’t regret it!
7. Everything is temporary.
As any teenager, or human being for that matter, I had my dark times. There were periods throughout my teenage years where I literally saw no positive outcome to the situation I was in. Without going into specifics, I just wish I could tell my younger self that everything is temporary, everything – even the good stuff! I wish I could tell her to enjoy every moment in the moment and cherish her youth as much as possible as time is one thing you’re never getting back. (I sound like i’m 94 years old, but it’s true!) I’d give anything to be 15 again with no responsibilities, no commitments and all my life choices ahead of me.
8. Lead an active & healthy lifestyle.
Again, like the skin thing, this is something that my present self needs to listen to as well. I feel like if I’d have started looking after my body at a younger age it would, by now just be a part of my lifestyle. As a skinny teenager with a high metabolism I never exercised and ate whatever I wanted. I still have a high metabolism but I also realise that being slim doesn’t equal being healthy. I’m by far the most unfit person I know and would really like to change that (however I’m also the laziest person I know too so the combination doesn’t really work well together!). I wish I’d have kept up a sport or activity that I enjoyed as I literally have no hobbies of the sort. The last sport I played was in P.E in year 10..
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your future self? Leave a comment below 🙂