11 Life Lessons From My Thirteen Year Old Self

“Fuck up at school, and you fuck up at life- it’s fucked”- Jonas Takalua

I was a big fan of comedies as a thirteen year old. I wrote bizarre and eclectic sketches and feature film scripts, aspiring to see them on TV or on the cinema screen. Of course, now looking back, they are so stupid and need so much work I don’t know where to start.

Despite this and how lame I was back then, I did have some form of wisdom worth sharing. It came to me today while I was de-cluttering- clearing out crap in preparation for moving to Glasgow. (I’m going to Glasgow University and turning 20 in September, which I still can’t quite get over!) I ploughed through scraps of writing, old greetings cards, cuddly toys and more useless tat to find a list titled “Life Lessons Learned Either From Myself Or Others”. It had the little quote at the top (from Australian comedy ‘Summer Heights High’), and 31 points. I’m obviously not going to include absolutely all of them for brevity, but here are some of the best ones. (In no particular order)

  1.  “Start winding down and getting ready for bed earlier”

This is a lesson I’m still trying to apply to my everyday life. It’s true though- especially when I could barely get up in the morning for school the next day.

2. “The Spice Girls lied- friendship does end.”

As a young girl and teenager, you’re bombarded of images of everlasting girly friendship from films, TV shows, magazines, adverts you name it. So it only took me the whole of primary school and some of secondary school to learn that friendship does end. People fall out. People grow out of each other. People grow apart. People abandon. It’s never usually personal, except for when it is. It’s a rare time you keep friends you made in school, or anywhere as a young teenager, for the long term.

3. “Don’t try and be a smart alec and make a joke in another language. Especially in a languages class.”

The class will never get the joke, no matter how witty you think you are.

4. “Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t make it right.”

I saw most of that lesson from my peers drinking at bus stops and things. I hated not being included in things. Part of me wished that I could be included. But really, deep down I knew I wasn’t missing out on much. Especially when they were talking about when they were sick, as if it was all part of the fun. (Yes I have been drunk before and I know from experience that when you feel queasy that is the time to stop!)
5. “Not all adults have grown up completely yet.”

As a nineteen year old, who has been a school assistant and a support worker, I amend this slightly- no adults have grown up even slightly. It’s a conspiracy and a lie to keep children in line. Nobody knows what they’re doing. Literally nobody. Everyone is making it all up as they go along.

6. “Don’t chase. Boys smell desperation.”

This was a hard lesson to learn. I’d spent the first two years of secondary school jumping from crush to crush, without a clue about how to deal with the feelings I had. I made a real fool of myself for it, and became an easy target.

7. “In the long run, your social status matters much less than your grades. Your grades decide your future but how popular you are in high school doesn’t.”

I’ve only kept a handful of the friends I made in school, and even then I made those when I was fifteen. Although your grades do affect your future, you’re not damned forever for not having perfect grades.

8. “Men and women in magazines aren’t really your role models”

Whereas most people have somewhat distinction between fantasy and reality, not everyone does. It’s so easy to be captivated by these models and writers and hold the unrealistic pictures they paint as the reality you want. It honestly can’t be achieved.

In reality, you couldn’t really sustain a kale and juice diet or screw a porn star. You can fantasise, but you know it won’t happen. Yet the eating disorders, self-esteem issues, addictions and outright bizarre behaviour these things can cause is insane.

9.“Don’t quit a show because none of your friends are performing with you, or you haven’t got a good part.”

This applies to anything else as well as drama, from sports clubs to science groups. When I was younger, I used to spend my summer doing shows with a drama group in Paisley.

In the show before this one, I made lots of friends and had a really great time. In the next one, it didn’t have the exact same people, but there was one boy who went to the same one as me. He was one of the people I was pretty good friends with. Or so I thought.

When we were on our break together with his friends, he snapped at me “Why are you following me around like a puppy?” I was so ashamed, hurt and taken aback that I couldn’t bear to go back. I do regret that, because the guy was quite clearly behaving like an arse and it could have been a really good show. I could have had a lot of fun as part of the chorus.

10. “Don’t take on other people’s problems more than they are.”

I did this quite a lot, especially during S4 and S5. People used to befriend me because I would sit for hours and counsel them through their problems. But quite a few of these people were just looking for a safe space to have a bitch or didn’t have the stones to sort themselves out. It left me exhausted, and I got really emotionally invested when I probably shouldn’t have. By all means, help people. Help your friends because most people will appreciate you being there. But when people relinquish responsibility for their own wellbeing and expect you to provide their happiness is when you detach. They need to help themselves, you know.

11.“Enjoy your teenage years but keep in mind that what you do now can affect you for the rest of your life.”

When I was that age, I fell for the “if you fail your exams, you fail at life” dogma. So to me it was as grave as it might sound to you. But I know as an adult, if you don’t do well at school, it’s not the end of your life. Far from it!

How you are as a teenager will affect how you’ll be for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t mean you’re done for. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll grow from them.

So have fun with your friends, go to all the after-school clubs, kiss every frog, pop all your zits- make the most of every minute, because you won’t get it again!

 

my halloween costumeDSCF9725me in the pace foyer

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Don’t You Know Who I Am? (Superman FanFiction)

“I’m on the decline, my dear. I was such a strong man in my younger days, I never thought ‘d be so… weak or chubby. But then, even men like I was get old and fat at some point. The Christmas dinners, teas and cakes out and now in this nursing home they feed me all the time. It could be worse. The company’s good, though we keep having the same conversations.  The food is good. You treat me well here.”

“I’ve had a good life. I worked as a journalist for the Daily Bugle before it shut down. I wrote articles for them for forty years before I retired. There was a lot of in-fighting, and they couldn’t keep up with the technological age in the end. Lois and I had five children! If I wasn’t here, I’d be babysitting all the grandchildren. But then, that was always Lois’s strong point. When her health went down, I couldn’t do it on my own. There are so many of them! At least they come to the home sometimes. Of course, I’m just circling the drain, just waiting to join her. I keep all the articles I write her in a scrapbook by my bed. You’ve probably seen it, but not taken a look. Feel free! Take me up and I’ll talk you through it!”

Mr Kent’s carer, Jacqui, was always a good listener. She helped the old man out of his chair, into the hall and into the lift where his bedroom was. He helped him onto sitting on the bed before pulling a small chair up beside him. He opened the scrapbook and smiled. An old issue of the Daily Planet, about Superman right enough.

He indicated one of the articles. “It was a full time job, writing about Superman. Me and Lois both had it, on top of writing our own stories. I’m surprised nobody put two and two together.”

Jacqui was curious, “Two and two together about what, Mr Kent?”

“That it was just me without glasses and a costume! I thought some clever cookie might have piped up and put me and Lois out of our misery!”

The carer raised her eyebrows, “You were Superman?”

“Still would be if my health allowed me. I’m a bit stronger than the rest of these old guys, but not much.” Mr Kent chuckled.

Jacqui found this very hard to believe. Everybody who read a paper or social media knew that Superman was dead. He died of some kind of heart attack and pronounced dead on the spot. The funeral was televised and everything. But then, she thought, he’s on the decline. He said so himself. He might just be having delusions. The worst thing to say was that it wasn’t true.

So Jacqui smiled, and said, “That’s remarkable Mr Kent! Would you like to take that to the lounge and have a cup of tea?”

The man’s face radiated with warmth, “Why, my dear, I’d love to.”

Peacock at Kew Gardens

I have no name but Peacock. I live in a big garden, with domes, grass, gravel and stuff. There are lots of chirruping, berry eating birds, flowers and trees, and apes in all shapes and sizes. But there’s nobody here quite like me. What’s that thing you’ve got in your hand? I’ve heard it’s called a camera, it’s for capturing memories? Am I a good memory? I like how it flashes. You stare and smile at me, because my feathers are colourful. You apes are so easily amused. I like that. Now you’ve got a picture of me, you can show me to all of your friends and they’ll think I’m magnificent too. Because you think I’m great, right? I mean, what’s the point in me being here if you don’t? There’s no bird quite like me.

That’s why they keep me by myself, I think. You should be looking at me, keep looking at my tail feathers. Look at me! I’m handsome! Don’t walk away, don’t- never mind. I just wanted somebody to talk to.

(C) Text and Featured Image by Jen Hughes