Dear Teenage Self…

Author: Miranda Eason

Have you seen The Conversation? It’s a programme hosted by Amanda de Cadenet, in which she interviews female celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Fonda, Jaime King, Amber Valletta and Chelsea Handler. They’re some of the most honest, revealing and inspiring interviews you’ll ever see. You can watch them here.

At the end of each show she asks her interviewees the same quick-fire questions, one of which is what they’d tell their 14-year old self. It got me thinking about the advice I’d give my teenage self (pictured above!) if I got the chance. This is what I’d say…

Don’t get a perm

You’ll end up spending a lot of money on mousse and a lot of time under a diffuser hairdryer. Your hair will be so loaded with product you’ll be able to lift one strand and the whole lot will come with it. This is not a good look on you (or anyone).

On a similar tip don’t pluck your eyebrows

They’re perfectly fine as they are.

Spend more time with your girlfriends

They’ll be in your life a lot longer than the boys you think you’re in love with.

Consider taking maths beyond GCSE

There’s this thing that’s going to be huge, it’s called the internet. I won’t tell you too much, it’d blow your mind but, trust me, maths is going to be useful.

Take more photographs

All those nights spent dancing until dawn in Leeds, Manchester, London, Ibiza, Tenerife and, erm, Newquay? They need to be recorded. Oh and don’t throw away all your Haçienda mixtapes. At least not until Shazam’s invented.

Don’t take life so seriously

Smile often. Laugh more. Laugh until tears roll down your face as often as you can.

Stop worrying so much about what other people think

Remember, what other people think of you is none of your business. The haters are gonna hate. There isn’t anything you can do about it.

Travel as often as you can

Go as far away as possible. And stay for as long as you can. Without breaking the rules of your visa, obviously.

Do yoga

To be fair it might be hard to find a yoga class in West Yorkshire in the 1990s but I’m pretty confident you’ll find one when you leave home for university. Life’s better when you yoga.

Make the most of the time you have with your mum

She won’t be around forever.

And one last thing…

It gets better. I promise.

What would you tell your teenage self? And, as it’s #throwbackthursday, do share your teenage photographs over on Instagram with the hashtag #rockmythrowback. I can’t wait to hear what you’d say and, of course, see your photos! And yes, I know there aren’t any pictures of the perm above (although you can kind of see it in the Polaroid). I think I must have destroyed all photographic evidence…

{Contributors}
Author
Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.
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57 thoughts on “Dear Teenage Self…

  1. I would tell my teenage self, stop worrying about your weight and wasting time dieting, you arent built to be skinny!

    Im 29, in the last year, Ive given up dieting and exercising for the sake of it, now I eat what I like in moderation and only do exercise I actually enjoy (swimming and pilates). Miraculously, Ive lost a stone without trying and am the thinnest Ive been since I was 19. And I was only ever a size 12 at my biggest, hardly huge!x

    1. Such good advice Stacey. Finding exercise you love and eating things you like is definitely the key to finding both your happy weight and a happy life! x

  2. Side note, I didn’t know you were from West Yorkshire!! I work there! Yay hardly anyone is ever from here lol! To be fair I live in South Yorkshire but it’s close enough! I wish I had said to be more confident, not to dye my hair black (that took years to sort out), and to appreciate the time when I lived with my dad more cos since he died regrets sting a lot more! Right I’m off to watch those interviews now!
    X

    1. I’m from Leeds Alex. I live in the flat lands of Cambridgeshire now, but I very much miss Yorkshire.

    2. Yes, I’m a Yorkshire lass, I was born in Leeds and grew up mostly in Wetherby (with a couple of stints abroad!). Spending more time with family, confidence and not messing with your hair are all top pieces of advice. I hope you enjoy The Conversation, I watched them pretty much all back-to-back one weekend morning! x

    3. fellow yorkshire (and derbyshire) lass here – the joys of divorced parents 🙂

      I flippin’ love yorkshire

  3. When I was a teenager I was convinced I was fat. I wasn’t. However I did put quite a bit of weight on after moving in with my now husband and although I was still never fat, I now wish I was the the weight that I was when I thought I was fat.
    So I would tell myself to ignore the doubting voice in my head, because you will never be that young and beautiful again.

    1. Me too Alex! I look back at pictures of my teenage self and think what on earth were you worrying about?!

  4. It would probably be: have faith in your ability and definitely choose textiles GCSE (you’ll get an A in that project you think you did rubbish at!)

    1. You should have done it, I did textiles GCSE and A Level, it was definitely my favourite course! x

  5. Miranda this is genius! My list would be huge!!!! but ones I can think of off the top of my head would be….

    1. Don’t go out with that older guy who seems like a charmer but really is a complete pilok. And a bully. You missed out doing lots of fun things as a sixth former as a result.

    2. Don’t use sunbeds. EVER. They will contribute towards your melanoma diagnosis at the grand old age of 25 and mean you have to be constantly wary of sunshine. Which is sad. Pale is definitely more interesting.

    3. Don’t wear that severe scraped-back hair do, even if it is for dance class, your head will resemble a grapefruit.

    4. Your eczema is really not that bad, don’t try and cover it up with too much make-up and make it look worse.

    5. Don’t be so afraid to try new things, you have ultimate youth on your side, that back packing/travelling trip you always wanted to do? get on with it!

    Loving reading everyone’s responses! xxx

    1. Haha, I had to give my list a major edit or it would have been the longest RMS post ever! x

    2. charlotte – I tell myself the eczema thing even now! It always looks worse in the mirror than in ‘real life’ (repeat to self)

  6. Without a doubt Id tell myself not to worry so much about what people think. I know thats pretty standard for everyone, but i do feel i couldve achived a lot more, especially in uni, had I not worried so much about other peoples views. Luckily Ive finally seen the light (although not totally – even writing this i had a small pang of “what if she reads this”).

    So Im sending this out into the ether, to my teenage self, to other teenagers or people reading this – DONT WORRY WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU. NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO MAKE YOU FEEL UNIMPORTANT AND LIKE YOU DONT MATTER.

    Great post by the way!!! Massive fan of the blog! And ill see if i can dig out any throwback photots….. Although myseriously there may not be many!! Haha xxxx

    1. Ooh, and also, look out for a new band around 2007 called Mumford & Sons. Theyre gonna change your life and it would be great if you were there from the start!!

    2. Thank you, so lovely to hear! It’s taken a while but I really don’t worry very much at all about what people think of me these days, I hope I’m going to be like one of the ladies on Advanced Style when I’m old, still totally rocking it style and life-wise! Haha, sounds like your throwback pictures went the same way as my perm ones! x

  7. If I could talk to my teenage self I would have a very stern talk to myself and say young lady…you’re actually ok. You might not be the most popular, or smartest or fancied girl but you’re a really nice person and people want to be your friend and find you interesting. Stop being so insecure cause its really you that has the problem. Actually…you’re pretty great!
    To be honest I could probably do with telling myself that now from time to time but lacking in confidence has always been my problem but I’m working on it! Xxx
    P.S. I would also tell myself not to get the ‘Rachel’ haircut, it will not look good! x

    1. I think you should just say you’re pretty great, and leave it at that Tabitha! Oh my goodness, the Rachel haircut, with hindsight it didn’t even look that great on Jennifer Aniston, she looks better now, with her long not-so-layered locks! x

      1. Haha thanks! Our little girl is due in the 3 days and I want to be better for her. I would rather not pass on this particular gene and I want her to think she’s great everyday (in a totally nice and non-obnoxious way of course!)

        I have no idea what the Rachel was all about, it was so much blinking hard work too x

  8. I would tell myself the following

    Don’t start smoking. It will take you years to stop although you will finally do it eventually.
    Work harder at school and stay in 6th form to do your A levels, don’t go to college.
    Older guys are not the be all and end all of everything. In fact boys in general are not the most important thing in the world right now!

  9. Love this! My main advice would be…
    1. Stop over-plucking your eyebrows. You’ll do yourself damage!
    2. Listen to your Dad when he said ‘take it easy’ after passing your driving test so you don’t crash 2 days after
    3. Relish the opportunity to be living at home with your future best friend (your brother) before he goes off to uni. When you get close when your grow up, you’ll look back on the missed opportunity.
    4. Be kinder to yourself. You’re a size 10 with curves.
    5. Ignore the boys teasing you and your friends in year 9 about not having any boobs. They’ll literally grow overnight later in the year.
    6. Don’t give up French after GCSE – it’s so useful!
    7. Don’t start going with out a guy 10 years older – he’s not attractive and you’ll regret it…..

    Ah, teenage youth! xx

  10. What an amazing post Miranda, thank you! I loved reading your advice and all the comments too.

    Mine would be:

    1. Don’t worry so much about the future, your life turns out even better than you could have imagined.
    2. Don’t date idiots in college, when you finally meet “The One” you’ll spend far too much time crying because of past baggage and it’ll be a shock that he’s ‘normal’ and makes you so happy.
    3. Don’t be so insecure, you have friends and family that love you, stressing about things you can’t change (like your personality and looks) will not get you anywhere.
    4. Having your career mapped out at 18 is not a requirement, it turns out fine in the end (I spent far too much time worrying that I didn’t have A PLAN like everyone else did!)
    5. Wear less hand me downs, you’ll find your own style much sooner…
    6. Keep being grateful for the small things and optimistic (even when people laugh at you for it), it’s a trait your future husband falls for…

    Am I the only one that feels a bit teary writing these? xxx

    1. Aw, sorry for making you feel teary Kate! Loving all your advice, especially the career one. Lots of the jobs we’re doing now didn’t even exist when we were 18, how could we plan for that?!

  11. I would pretty much say to stop worrying about everything, its really not that bad. It’s only when you get older that you realise how carefree and easy your life really was. And actually how skinny I was when I was constantly on a diet (still am though!). I missed out on so many nice treats and the cabbage soup diet is so not worth it!!!Oh and don’t get a boy haircut when you have curly hair and straighteners haven’t been invented. You resemble a small sheep! x

    1. Haha, I got my haircut into a short bowl cut when I was about 16 and it looked rubbish, plus I’m far too lazy to style my hair every morning and get it cut on a regular basis. I spent the next year (at least!) growing it out.

  12. Love this post. I would say:

    Stop worrying – people will fancy you and you will have a boyfriend so take your time and find someone that truly likes you.

    Stop comparing yourself to others – you are fine as you are and you’ll grow into your looks. What you are at 14/15 is not what you will look like for the rest of your life!

    Go backpacking – even though your dad didnt want you too – there is plenty of time to have a good job in your 20’s.

    Take Spanish A level – you loved it and were good at it too!

    That dark lipstick – just no!

    Take driving lessons – It will cause you a lot less stress when you are older!

    I’m scared about my little girl being a teenager – I need to start teaching her life lessons young however inevitably she wont listen!!

    Rachie xo

    1. Excellent advice Rachie! I’m sure your little girl will be just fine, but it’s going to be hard to stand back and watch her make her own mistakes, which let’s face it, you’ll have to do. How my mum kept quiet through the rubbish boyfriends, bad hairstyles etc. I’ll never know. x

  13. I’ve loved reading all these comments.

    Mine would be

    – “Sun-in” is not good for your hair, and neither is that streaking cap. Go to a real Hairdresser to have your highlights done
    – Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You don’t need to revise all the time, it’s important to go out and live a little
    – Think about the university course that you want to do rather than which city has best nightlife. That Media and Cultural Studies degree isn’t really going to impress anyone
    – Friends who tease you all the time aren’t really your friends. Sit tight though because by the time you reach your mid-twenties you’ll have an awesome group of girlie mates
    – Stop declaring that you’ll “never get married, because you don’t see the point of it”, because you totally will see the point of it one day, and it will the best thing you’ll ever do

    I could go on and on! x

    1. Haha, I did Media Studies too! At the end of the day I’m not sure my career path would have been that different whatever I did at university. Sun In was a terrible product. The combination of that and regular swimming turned my hair green one summer!

  14. Love this post. Top of my list would be legal career does not equal Ally Mcbeal when choosing my A level subjects, may have been an epic fail on behalf of our school careers advisor too 😉 x

    1. What do you mean it’s not like Ally McBeal?! On a similar tip if I was ever to become a forensic scientist I would expect it to be exactly like CSI!

  15. Enjoy being skinny and cellulite free

    Have more confidence and belief

    Don’t bunk off school (whoops)

    Enjoy wearing those dungarees and looking ace! (I really want to buy dungarees but fear I will not look like Fearne of Alexa!)

    Go and see The Stone Roses before they split up (I managed the reunion in Manchester a couple of years ago but not the same)

    Go and see Nirvana before Kurt dies

    When you get to uni try and DJ at the student union … if I’d done that would I now be Annie Mac I wonder?

    Do an exchange programme

    Learn 2 languages instead of 1 … and learn them well

    Don’t be so horrid to your parents

    Ok I think that covers it 🙂 🙂

    1. Oh my goodness, the gigs I would go to if I could transport myself back in time, I made it to some pretty good club nights though! I’ve been thinking about dungarees too, but wondering if there is a cut-off point age-wise? But then I look at the Advanced Style ladies and think, if you love it, rock it!

  16. Don’t spend your teens and early twenties being paranoid you were fat, you weren’t.

    Take A-Level Art, the end result is irrelevant, you’ll enjoy it and you go on to get unclassified in Biology which you hate every second of.

    Hug your Dad, It’s awkward when you’re a teen but you adore each other and you lose him to a sudden heart attack when you’re just 17.

    Learn to drive before you leave home, you’re 37 now and still haven’t.

    Don’t put ‘vegetarian’ on your University housing application – instead of like minded hippies you’ll be put with bigoted idiots, one of whom will beat you up.

    Buy a little house when you and Jon move to Manchester in ’99, it will mean borrowing a small deposit from family but by the time you move away housing prices will have more than doubled and you’ll be able to pay them back with interest.

    Don’t have dreadlocks, it’s nothing but hard work and takes Jon three months of painful combing to tease out and save your hair.

    Always do your research, question authority and get second opinions; Mum dies of cancer when you’re 28 after being misdiagnosed for a year.

    You might want lots of things, or think you do; but in the end only one thing is important and that is happiness. Do whatever you need to do to be happy, the rest will fall into place.

    Anne.xx

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Anne. I’m so very sorry you lost your Dad and your Mum so young, and that you had such a horrible thing happen to you at university. You’re so right, being happy is the most important thing and when you are everything else will fall into place. Much love xxx

  17. I’d tell myself to just go right ahead. I wouldn’t change a thing. I really wouldn’t. I’m not perfect by any stretch and there’s always room for improvement but every fashion faux pas, misplaced hang-up, pointless unrequited crush and head-on collision has taken me a step closer to today, and my here and now isn’t too shabby!

      1. Love, love, love that you wouldn’t chance a thing Philippa! Hmm, the wedding suppliers advice, sounds like there’s a story there…?!

  18. Clearly we all have lots of things to teach our teenage selves – reassuring I’m not the only one! Here are the first few things that came to my mind:
    * Don’t cut your hair so bloody short! It always has and always will look terrible at anything shorter than a bob.
    * Do discover hair straighteners as soon as possible. And don’t worry about them being too expensive, they are so worth it.
    * Don’t waste your time on people who care less about you than you do about them.
    * Don’t stop doing the things that you love – you’ll miss them.
    * Don’t be in such a rush to grow up. Being a grown up isn’t all that. Just enjoy being who you are now.

  19. Love this post. Being only 20 I am not sure I am qualified to tell my teenage self anything other than studying isn’t the be all and end all, but having a good skin care regime really is!!

  20. Oh god I’d never repeat my teen years – especially between 14-16! Teen-me needed some advice for sure:

    *Value being an only child – don’t whine at your parents for being ‘lonely’ You never are and you know it! Appreciate everything they do for you and stop being so selfish.

    *when two of your friends fall out, you don’t have to pick sides. You’ll regret not speaking to one of them for the last 2 years of senior school and she’ll turn out to be the best mate you could ask for – don’t miss out on two extra years for the sake of a stupid argument.

    *Take your mum’s advice and learn Swedish properly! You’ll never know when it’ll come in handy (even if it is just to translate emails for colleagues!)

    *that boy you end up dating in college was never worth it. Your friends were right, listen to them!

    *finally, everyone will change when they go to uni – don’t be angry about it. Good friends will make the effort no matter what.

    1. Great advice Jo. I’m sad you missed out on two years of friendship with your best mate, but so happy you made up, and yes, you should have stuck with the Swedish!

      1. We made up on the last day of senior school – we signed each other’s yearbooks and then burst into tears when we realised how silly we’d been! 10 years later, we’re best mates still and she was bridesmaid at my wedding! Funny how things work out with true friends.

  21. Love this post!! Heartwarming and humorous. Thank God I’m no longer a teenager, that’s all I can say x

    1. Aw thanks Jo! I’m happy I’m not a teenager now, can you imagine having every bad hairstyle recorded forever on social media?!

  22. Oh where to start! Love this post!

    I guess most of mine are as per Baz Lurhmann’s wonderful Sunscreen Song…with a particular emphasis on
    “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”
    and
    “enjoy the power and beauty of your youth”

    I think the lyrics of this are so true. And wear sunscreen 🙂

    Three others not covered by Baz…
    1) It really doesn’t matter that you don’t have a career path planned out (you still won’t enjoy doing what you’re doing at 29 and a half…)
    2) Ignore people’s ridiculous opinions on your passions and hobbies – horses are WAY better than boys
    3) DO NOT get a cropped hair cut with a flicked over fringe – it is not cool.

    1. Love that song too Victoria! And yes horses are WAY better than boys would totally be next on my list.

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