Things will get better I promise. And I’m not just talking about that terrible haircut you got, although for the record that horrific, mushroom-shaped bob will eventually grow out and you’ll start dyeing it all those crazy bright colours like you always wanted to.
No, what I’m talking about is how you feel after leaving high school. Existing at the bottom of the social hierarchy for five years has done its damage, that’s for sure: for several more years you’ll be painfully shy to the point where you find making friends impossible, and you’ll pretty much refuse to talk to anyone at college or your part time job for a long time. Your ability to hold onto and internalise all of the cruel comments (whilst conveniently forgetting any good ones) will cause you to mistrust others to the point where you’ll keep everyone at arm’s length, but here’s a few things you should know:
- That group of kids walking down the street who happened to laugh near you? They were almost definitely not laughing at you, so stop worrying and thinking everyone is analysing you all the time. No one is paying as much attention to you as you are, so give yourself a break and don’t be so self-conscious all the time.
- A slight social faux-pas is not a big deal! You certainly don’t need to still be awake at two in the morning cringing about something you did several days ago that the other person will have totally forgotten about anyway. One of the things that makes you feel so awkward all the time is that horrific fear of messing up, so just try and relax (easier said than done, I know).
- Own your interests: yes, reading and writing epic fantasies after the fashion of J.R.R. Tolkien isn’t exactly the coolest interest, especially as it seems like all your peers are out drinking and smoking (FYI: they totally aren’t!), but that’s just you, and you should never be ashamed of that. Years later you’ll be using that love of reading and writing to write a blog on which you’ll write some weird, crazy letter to your past self…
- There are genuine, kind, good people in the world, so don’t let past experience, or your experience with a small amount of bad people colour your view. Your cynical view of the world and other people only does you harm, so learn to give people the benefit of the doubt, and let things go (yep, I’m talking about that kid who called you ugly in Year Seven whose teeth you would still happily punch out – just let it go!).
- You’ll always be kind of shy, but don’t let that stop you doing anything you want to do. Even by the time you reach 22 you’ll still hate meeting new people and being in social situations outside your realm of experience, but keep applying for those jobs etc., and I’m sure one day soon it’ll pay off (ok, so this is kind of good advice for current me too!).
- Be thankful for what you have. Yep, it’s time for the tough love! All that time you spend moping and overthinking everything is time you could spend being thankful for the things you do have, seen as there are so many people who have it so much worse. You have a wonderful family and a roof over your head, and a whole future in front of you, so just enjoy it!
So there you go younger me, that’s the best advice I can give you. You’re about to go to college and you’re going to hate it, but don’t worry: you’ll make it to university and you’ll absolutely love it there (all the books and learning obviously, not the drinking and stuff that most people look forward to…you don’t get any cooler I’m afraid!), and the older you get the less important all that high school crap will seem.
I can’t make any grandiose claims, like you’ll have published a bestselling novel in the next few years, but I can tell you that you’re going to be OK. One day soon you’ll be a fully functioning adult (well…sort of) with a full time job, and a flat, and a car (you pass your driving test first time and your brother doesn’t by the way, so remember to rub that in his face!), and you’re surrounded by awesome people.
Love, Future Laura.
So writing this felt kind of weird, and is definitely the most personal thing I’ve ever posted on here. So what would you tell your younger self now?