I turned the ripe old age of twenty a couple of days ago. Above is my obligatory Birthday Selfie!
‘Twenty’ sounds so grown up but I genuinely don’t feel it, I still feel about twelve. When I was younger, I used to look up to people who had left school and think ‘wow, they’re so grown up- look at how they have their lives together and everything is working out well for them’. Well now that I’m twenty, I now realise that no one has their shit together and we’re all just walking around in a daze trying to figure out ‘how to adult’.
In retrospect, looking back at my teenage years I have a few pearls of wisdom to pass on. What twenty things would I tell my thirteen year-old-self if I met her today?
1. Choose your friends carefully
It’s okay to have a small circle of friends. In fact, I think it’s better to have fewer friends that you can trust rather than lots of shallow friendships. Some people are poisonous and bring out the worst in you- acknowledge these people and avoid them at all costs. You don’t have to be friends with people and you also don’t have to surround yourself with those people if you don’t want to.
2. Love your family
Appreciate your family more. Life is short and takes seriously unexpected turns, don’t take your family for granted. Find time to do something together, even if it’s just to see them for ten minutes or a phone call.
Maybe it’s the actor in me but I think that humans are fascinating. I was told by an old drama coach to watch people on the tube/train/doctors waiting rooms/anywhere and I didn’t really pay any attention to it until I was older. Take in people’s mannerisms and behavioural gestures- you can learn a lot from this. Watch how people walk, it says a lot about their personality. And most of all, listen to them
4. Don’t dye your hair unnatural colours
I don’t know why but I always wanted to rebel against the ‘system’ as a teenager. As soon as I could, I bleached my hair and turned it grey. This is probably one of my biggest regrets as it was for such a short period of time but takes years to rectify. Maybe I was going through a serious self identity crisis or maybe I was going against the ‘system’ but overall, it was a huge mistake. Having grey, pink or blue hair may make you feel rebellious in the moment but in hindsight it isn’t worth the aggravation and copious amounts of intense hair masks in the future.
5. Blend your eyeshadow
Blend, blend, blend, blend, blend! Girls go out now and buy yourself a blending brush. God knows why no one pointed out how ridiculous my eye shadow looked for years. Buy a blending brush- it will change your life.
6. Don’t rush
From a young age I had it in my head that at 18 I would be leaving sixth form and heading to Drama School. By 21, I will have graduated and have got myself an agent. By 22 I will be a successful actor and live happily ever after. Life doesn’t work like that and thank god it didn’t turn out like that for me. Believe it or not, you have all your life to create a good career for yourself. School tried to instil a mentality in me that you must rush off to university right away because university is the best way to put yourself in a good position for a successful and fruitful career.
In matter of fact, school doesn’t actually care about your career or your life ‘after school’, they only care about their figures; ‘98% of students went off to university in 2016’, ‘5 of those students went to Oxbridge’. Out of those 98% of students, were 98% of those people 100% happy with their decision to go? Do what feels right for you, don’t get pressured into doing a course because you don’t know what else you could do and all of your friends are going. I felt an immense pressure to go to university even though I knew it wasn’t right for me. If you don’t know what you want to do or things didn’t pan out the way you expected them to, take a gap year or work but most important of all, don’t rush into anything.
7. Remove all negativity from your life
I think the way to success and have happy life is to be positive. A positive mind is a happy mind. Focus on the good and surround yourself with good things. You are in control of your life and you’re also in control of your own thoughts. Life is easier without negative people around and I found growing up that it’s actually quite hard to be friends with negative people; so remove them and be selfish. It’s okay to be selfish for your own state of mind.
8. Do more yoga
I just wish I did more yoga. Everyone should do yoga.
9. Don’t be shy of doing something because other people may judge you
I was put off from doing a lot of things as a young teenager because I was scared of the reaction I would get from others. I didn’t continue playing the saxophone and I didn’t try out new things because I was worried about what other people would think. I went to quite a cliquey school where bitchiness was rife and I got quite a lot of shit off other girls. I once uploaded some photographs from a photoshoot and got absolutely ripped to shreds about it. I wanted to start a blog for years but after the photoshoot drama, I couldn’t be bothered with the backlash, it just wasn’t worth the aggravation.
Looking back, I now realise that a lot of those people were incredibly insecure, hence why they probably found comfort in judging others and singling people out. I’m not sure why they were fixated with me or even cared about what I was doing but the experience has made me a better person.
10. Grab every opportunity given to you and make your own opportunities
Be a doer. Don’t sit and wait for things to happen, make them happen.
11. Keep your social media clean
Don’t argue on social media. Don’t upload embarrassing photographs of you drinking Stella at 14 years old. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your future boss to read. I wish I had listened to my teachers when they warned me about my online footprint. Keep it nice and clean! Make a new Facebook if you have to- save yourself the embarrassment in the future. You’d be surprised how far your social media profile reaches.
12. Enjoy house parties whilst they last
House parties don’t last forever so enjoy them whilst you can- going out in town isn’t the same.
13. Be comfortable in your own skin
This probably links with the judgement but up until this year I physically couldn’t have a bare face in public, I found it so hard. I couldn’t even go to ASDA without makeup on. Then at NYT I didn’t wear makeup for pretty much a whole 3 weeks and my self confidence grew incredibly. Then it got me thinking, why did I feel like I have to wear makeup? Why is it that as a woman, if you don’t wear makeup, people feel the need to point it out and ask you ‘why aren’t you wearing any makeup?’ To mention that you look ‘ill’ or ‘tired’? Be happy in your own skin and rock it!
14. Don’t have a plan B
I was always told to have a plan B. Don’t. People who have a plan B aren’t invested enough in their plan A. Plan A will work out… eventually
15. Try new foods
Just try new foods. I only recently tried whitebait and it’s delicious. I’ve missed out on 20 years of eating whitebait because of this. Try new foods!
16. Laugh more
Yes I went through a miserable ‘I’m too cool to laugh or smile’ phase. Don’t- it’s boring!
17. Throw your old things out- don’t be a hoarder
Give your old things to charity, don’t keep them shoved in a cupboard for years on end. Live by the rule of ‘if I haven’t worn/used this in 6 months’ give it away. I’m still struggling to come to terms with this rule as I am a secret clothes hoarder but my life is slowly becoming uncluttered of shorts that I haven’t worn since I was 13. Slowly.
I had so much spare time as a kid, I wish I did something useful with my time other than spend my life glued to social media. As you get older, the less time you have (until you’re retired obviously). I wish I had volunteered, even if it was a little.
19. Use a primer
I went years without using primer and my life changed when I bought the Strobe Cream by Mac . If you don’t have it, buy it. It’s my beauty must have.
20. Have more ‘mental health days’
I’m a big believer that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Some days when you feel crap, it’s okay to have a day off. Nap, eat chocolate, exercise, curl up watching Netflix with your cat- do whatever works for you. I found that I tried to plough on through these days and ‘get a grip’ and I ended up getting more stressed, tired and extremely emotional because of it. Not addressing these issues won’t help, take more ‘me time’