A letter to my fourteen year old self 

by On Becoming Anna

So I’ve just moved into a new house to begin my postgraduate study and with my graduation just around the corner and 21st birthday last week I am suddenly feeling, understandably, incredibly nostalgic.
Whilst I have always been someone to get things ultimately wrong, someone who generally stumbles through life with little or basically no control, I do believe that I have learnt a lot throughout my teenage years and have got a lot of things, inevitably, right.

I have decided however, as I am in a current wasteland of my life, not really knowing what the next stage is, where I should go or what steps I should be taking, to write a list of advice I would give myself if I could go back a few years, in hope that I will take some of it in now, and perhaps be a tiny bit closer to understanding what on earth I should be.

My teenage years were really quite difficult for me in many ways; I hated my body, I was struggling with feelings of depression and I had a lot of friendship issues. I was in a school of about 2000 people and naturally always felt a bit lost, like I just faded into a corner. It took me a while to find myself.

It seems funny to me that whilst I would consider my fourteen year old self a distant figure, that in my twenties I am dealing with similar issues, and still struggling to follow my own advice. I think this is a state every graduate student goes through, and I’m sure a few other students could do with hearing this advice, as well as me.
Don’t dumb yourself down
For your friends, or a boy, or anyone. You have always been relatively smart, naturally hardworking and comfortable in your own skin. An entry to a new school can be terrifying, but it is not a time to lose yourself just because people would prefer you not to work as hard. You will never be the cleverest, but being dumb isn’t cute. Pretending like you don’t know the answer, or that you don’t care about it, might make you seem cool for about five minutes, but you’ve got plenty to say, don’t be shy to let people know that you know.

Don’t be afraid of being wrong
You can’t be right all the time, but not doing something because you’re scared you’ll fail means you’ll never end up doing anything. No one gets things perfect every time. You need to learn how to fail before you can ever succeed.

There is nothing abnormal about your body
You are the sister of a perfectly curvy, beautiful girl. Your best friend has an arse most people have to get implants for. You constantly compare yourself to every single girl around you and fail to see that you are exactly how you are meant to be. You will never look like the girls you see in magazines, but that doesn’t mean you’re any less beautiful. Try to accept who you are and to love your body, instead of starving, hurting and hating it.

Just because everyone’s talking about it, doesn’t mean everyone’s doing it
Sex is not a natural moving forward of your relationship, it’s not a stage to overcome. Some people are ready earlier and some later, and that’s absolutely fine. Virginity is not an insult, nor is it a label which defines you. It is meant to be something which is enjoyed, it shouldn’t hurt. your body will tell you when you’re ready. The people that are talking about it probably aren’t having it and there is absolutely no pressure to. You shouldn’t be excluded from a group because you’re not doing the same things as them.  You’ll know when you’re ready and just be honest with yourself about that.

If you have to ask yourself if he really loves you
He probably doesn’t.

Similarly,

If you can cheat or even think about cheating
You probably don’t love him either.

Time literally heals everything
It might seem painful in the moment, but sooner or later people will forget that embarrassing thing you did, you’ll stop hurting over that boy, the pain will subside. Absolutely everything gets easier with time.

Never underestimate the power of expensive underwear
Something my mum taught me, and something I have gone on to teach my best friends. People will come and go, and you will go through times of feeling powerless, but no one can fuck with you in matching Elle McPherson lingerie.

Be more selfish
Do whatever you want. Stop caring so much about other people and how they feel. Do things that make you happy, without worrying about repercussions. It’s your life, take control.

Tell people how you feel
This is something you have and will struggle with for a lot of your life, but you need to push yourself to do it. If someone hurts you, tell them. If someone does something to annoy you, tell them. If you want to do something different than what someone is asking you to do, tell them. Similarly, if you love someone, tell them. if someone makes you happy, Forget about the possible embarrassment and how vulnerable it makes you feel. Just tell people things, let it out.

Be more thankful for the girls in your life
You have the most incredible women in your family, and the best girl friends. Learn from their strength and power. Despite what society teaches you, you don’t have to put other girls down to thrive yourself. It’s power in numbers and you need them.

Be thankful for the men in your life
They will teach you what real love is, and how you deserve to be treated.

And finally,

Have faith in yourself
Believe you can do it and stop talking yourself down. You’ll find your purpose eventually.

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