Yorkshire Pudding put me up to this one, and it has been on my mind for a few days.
What advice would I give to myself aged 13, given what I know now?
My own daughter was 14 in October and I look at her and think how much more sensible she is than I ever was at her age. She seems really comfortable with who she is in a way that I, awkward and shy as I was, could only have dreamt of being. I think she has benefited from having older brothers and being in a mixed sex school, and therefore having a fundamental understanding that boys are just – well – people, rather than being the alien species I suspected them to be when I was just 14 and at the time in an all girls school.
She has not done many of the stupid things I had already done by the time I was her age - snog boys when I didn’t really want to but was more afraid of being called a lesbian if I refused, drink alcohol I didn’t actually like (rum and black – YUK!!!) , skip school because I would be called a wimp if I didn’t, hang out with ‘friends’ no parent would ever approve of because I was too scared of them NOT to try and be ‘mates’. And the reason I am confident enough to state she hasn’t done these things is that she also has the ability to talk to me about these things, which stupidly I never did, but sincerely wish I had done when I was younger, to my mum.
I genuinely wish I could have been more like my own daughter is now than I was at her age. I look back and wish I had had more confidence in myself and in my abilities. I would tell myself being clever was something to be proud of and cherished rather than hidden as something to be embarrassed about. I would certainly tell myself that mum was right when she said one day I would be pleased I was tall because I spent much of my early teens desperately unhappy that I was horrible and gawky against all my 5 foot nothing petite friends. Oh – and keep my hair short – long never did suit me as my mother always tried to impress upon me, and as photographic evidence proves.
I could obviously provide a list of men to be avoided at all costs, and suggest that volunteering for the Nelson Mandela March in June 1987 from Glasgow to London might have a fringe benefit of meeting someone really special – but if I did that I wouldn’t have the kids I have and I can’t imagine anything more terrible than that. Plus I could tell my 13 year old self that there is still much to look forward to when you reach your late 40’s – not that she would believe me – that’s fucking ancient!
I could also suggest some jobs never to apply for in the first place starting with Jackson’s Supermarket Trainee Manager in Hull – Worst Job in The World Ever!
What else to Young Gawky Jane?
Well…Strong advice to always hold on to your skirt when travelling on escalators could save future embarrassment of the ‘losing one’s dress in public’ variety.
Definitely travel more than I did before I had kids (but with care when on escalators – see above).
Life might be more pleasant if you could wean yourself off that stupid football team and pick another one who might actually win something from time to time (Not Tottenham!)
More seriously, put the effort in to keep friendships in tact, and show people who matter to you how much you love and value them. Two of my very best friends now are back in my life after a gap of far too many wasted years. And never ever for example say that you no longer care for someone in particular, as when two days later they have a terrible car crash and nearly die you will blame yourself thinking that had you never made the stupid remark as recorded in your diary at the time the accident would not have happened (illogical I know but …). Thankfully that person is both alive and kicking, and Reidski and I met up with him again recently.
But all in all – ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again’ etc etc. I’ve obviously made mistakes along the way, but hopefully I have learnt from them and I think that mostly, you do need to find these things out for yourself - except for smoking where you will just have to take my word for how vile that is!
So Young Jane remember that it’s not all Cobblers – it is worth living – and to borrow another song title which you won’t hear for many years yet, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.
And now for God’s sake 13 year old Jane – Stand up straight and get your hair cut !!!!
It would be interesting to read what others would say to their 13 year old selves if anyone fancies having a go.
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