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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Ink Prelude

My mind is a dark room with red lighting and a desk where I create and destroy at my will. It is a continent, surrounded by paper and ink. Like my study, it is cluttered, but unlike my study it has no walls.

There is nowhere the ideas can float but everywhere. That is until I drop them. It is funny to watch them squirm, drown and be forgotten.

Did that scare you a little?

Don’t worry, I’ve not killed anyone.

Well… at least not a real person.

 

NOTE: “Ink” was the first short film that I had been involved in. It was made as part of a GMAC Summer School, and shown at the Glasgow Film Theatre. I added the flier as my image because it is inspired by the film. 

“Ink” is the intellectual property of GMAC film.

February Update!

According to the ‘laws’ of NaNoWriMo, I should have started editing my first novel, The Dormant Queen, by now. But as I’ve hinted at before, life has gotten in the way.

I’ll start from the beginning. When I left school, I was desperate to work. I attended college, applied for basically everything going including care homes, community care companies, school assistant bank lists. I was doing at least one a day, and was hitting a lot of dead ends, despite getting a lot of interviews. I worked placements in schools and sheltered accommodation. And panicked about my SVQ units, but that’s another story.

 

I managed to finally get a job working with children with disabilities during school holidays, but nothing for during term time. After college, I managed to get on council’s school assistant bank lists. But then when I got on these, it took them months to actually get me any work due to HR processing my references and other things.

 

Then one council offered me a 10 hour a week contract at a primary school. Paid work, that was a good start. But there was still three days vacant, which for the most part, I was being roped into an endless loop of housework or errands. I was sick of it. Then, my relief hours contract offered me shifts every Saturday on outreach. This was great! I was an outreach worker!

And not long after that, one of the council bank lists I signed up for offered me a five-day contract. I was to start in January, when the Christmas holidays finished. Then I was really excited. Five days a week, supporting a pupil one-to-one every day. Something to really get my teeth into!

But then, I realised. I am now working a six day week.

Despite having everyone around me telling me how difficult it would be, I was excited. I would be gaining a LOT of valuable experience. I was going to be truly busy. I could do it- finally get everything I’d worked for. I would finally prove to myself that I could function like an actual adult.

The first week, I was on fire. I was writing and managing everything I was doing during the Christmas holidays, and all the hours of my day were driven. It felt amazing. I said yes to any opportunity or project. Because I could totally do it. I kept burning the until half way through the third week.

One night, I took a bath to try and relax. I knew I was getting tired, so I tried to wind down.

I had a conversation on the phone with my boyfriend, and I forgot to get a date for when their February break was. We hoped to arrange a long weekend somewhere. That one omission broke the camels back. I panicked. And I panicked some more. And then I talked myself down. I realised for myself that I had taken on too much.

 

So I’ve had to prioritize a bit. My job obviously must come first, but there are a lot of writing projects that I’ve had to shelve in the mean time like my serial, editing my novel and redrafting my short stories.

I’ve also muted notifications, and effectively left, the 52 Week Flash Fiction Challenge. This has served to build my portfolio of flash fictions to no end, even if I was unable to complete all of them. I have a gig reading some poetry for the FreshAyr festival at Ayr Town Hall, which will take up most of my time and energy until the beginning of March.

As for content on the website, I doubt I’ll have much to show for myself for the next month. But hopefully I may prove myself wrong! I may be just talking crap and blogging for the next wee while, but should be posting some juicy drabbles or poems in March.

In the meantime, happy reading!

 

 

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PS I feel this meme is appropriate but it’s not my creation so take no credit for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Know The Effects of Gravity

From my top floor apartment I can hear eery Christmas jingles from inside shops. It’s got a good location, if you like going out in the town and to the student union but I’ve never been a big fan. Usually, games nights in my house would do me. If I had any friends, that is. They’re always busy, and they live at the other side of the country. They don’t call or text anymore.
I look down at the great drop below me. The shoppers are like aphids. From here, you can’t see their expressions, and you can’t hear them talk to each other. Any one of those aphids could be squashed, or burned by the magnifying glass of God at any given moment, and they’ll never see it coming.
I could jump you know. I can’t stand this life anymore. I hate Christmas, especially. The cheer is fake and that once a year I have to pretend that my family actually care about my life, at least outside my career prospects. All of them piling in from St Andrew’s to lord it over because I’m at Glasgow which is for slow people. But I’m studying medicine, like they want me to, so they can’t hold that against me.
Next week, I’ll be in the exam hall, tested on how efficiently I can regurgitate facts. Everything I’ve learned, everything I am will be defined by that day. I know for a fact going to fail it. I’ve missed so many classes, because I’ve been either so anxious I can’t speak or so depressed I think I’m coming down with the worst flu ever. Slow person. It almost suits me now. I can barely drag myself over to the window sill.
The only person who is actually there is my cat, Tesla. She’s out hunting. Every time she comes home, she brings back a bird or mouse corpse. It’s these little kindnesses that make my life less bitter. Except for her, I have no-one.
I bring myself to my feet. I look down again. I could do it. I could jump… but then, I can hear the cat flap. Tesla. I can hear her meowing. You can’t be hungry, can you? There’s food in your bowl. She sits at my feet. Her claws dig into my feet and she’s looking up at me with those ‘Don’t Leave me’ eyes. She knows.
“You’ll manage fine without me.” I cry.
Tesla meows louder, and sadder. As if to say, ‘But I don’t want to, without you.’
I collapse onto a heap on the floor, and cry my lungs out. She pads up to me, climbs onto my knees and starts to lick my nose. I need help. I pick up my mobile phone and text some of my friends to invite them down for Christmas. I’ll try to keep going for another six months.
My phone pings. It is my friend Stephanie. She says she’s coming down tomorrow.
Featured Image by McKenzie Clarklove-is-a-violent-feeling