In my latest Q&A video, my friend Sophie asked me what I would tell my sixteen-year-old self. It really got me thinking, and I wanted to expand on what I said in the video in a blog post today. Also, it gave me an excuse to dig into my photo archives and find pictures of me from ten years ago. Always a laugh.
Ah sixteen. I was never in the ‘popular’ group at school (I feel like everyone on the internet says that, and it makes me wonder where on earth all the cool kids have gone…), but at the same time, I wasn’t bullied too badly by the cool girls. In fact I think I remember one of them telling me once that I could be cool too if I tried. Ha.
What was sad for me at sixteen was being left out by the people who were my friends. I was one of the youngest in the group, and for the first half of 2005 (when I turned 16) all was fine and dandy, but then the others started getting into drinking and partying, and it all just made me feel super uncomfortable. What was wrong with me that I wasn’t into all that stuff like they were? Was it not normal to want a ‘party’ to consist of popcorn, homemade pizza, telling each other secrets and watching Friends DVDs, all night? By the time I turned 17 I had been totally separated from my friend group. It wasn’t an official ‘voted off the island’ thing or anything, they just stopped inviting me to stuff, and we stopped having anything in common.
It was heartbreaking. The only person I had left to hang out with was my boyfriend at the time, and no offence to him, but at 16 a girl needs her girl friends. This is what I’d say if I could give my past-self a pep talk, just in case you’re in need of one too:
Hey you. I know you’re feeling bad about yourself right now, but what happened was not your fault. And you know what? It wasn’t their fault either. People grow and change and that’s okay. They just grew and changed into different people than you did. You’ll resent them and the ‘break up’ for a long time, but one day you’ll get over it and realise that everything has turned out okay in the end. I’m proud of you for sticking to your own morals and for not being peer-pressured into drinking when it’s not something you wanted to do. I know you feel lame because of it, but you have to know that it’s actually a really awesome thing about you. Throughout your life you’ll go through phases with friends and it will take a long time to find people you really connect with. But trust me, you’d rather that than hang around with people who make you feel bad about yourself.
Chin up, and don’t worry so much. About fitting in, about friends, about your hair and your nose and your forehead. Just relax and be who you are. The people who like you for you are the people you want in your life anyway.
That got a bit serious, so let’s end on this photo of sixteen-year-old me, Samme and her friend pretending to be ‘security’ in Brisbane.
I haven’t looked at my analytics closely enough to know if I have many young readers, but if I do, or if you’re going through a friend shake-up at any age really, I hope this advice to myself may help you too. I’ve got no regrets about my past, because it’s led me to where I am today and I’m oh-so-thankful for that. Everything will be okay in the end. It’s just hard to see that at the time.
What’s one thing you would tell your sixteen-year-old self?