Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The 13th Year - Reflecting on My Younger Self

As I sit down and reflect on last year - the year I turned 21 - I find myself thinking about the young girl I used to be.

At 13, life is pretty stressful.

Although I wasn’t paying bills, working in an office and trying a new diet every week, I was crying about unrequited love, thinking my size 4 frame was fat and trying to grow boobs. To a 13-year-old, that is certainly a tough, life or death struggle.

I cringe every time I think about the very first kiss I was peer pressured into on the playground at lunchtime. I look back at my first love with a heavy heart knowing I so desperately wanted us to be ‘together forever’. I even revisit old memories of being so besotted with Zac Efron and Aaron Johnson that I couldn’t bear to watch any other movies without them in. (At this point I am trying to forget the fact I sent many, many love letters written on personalised ‘Zac’ paper.)

I live in shock that I could spend the weekend smoking one too many cigarettes and drinking WKD I managed to get from a stranger standing outside the local onestop. Seven years later, I still can’t bear to smell even a hint of lambrini without feeling sick.

All silliness aside, I wish I could go back in time and tell that naive 13-year-old girl that she didn’t have to worry, or over think about the trivial matters she obsessed over.

I crave the opportunity to convince her that it really doesn’t matter that she has hair on her arms or braces bursting out of her mouth. She is great just the way she is. I feel a sense of sadness knowing that she feels alone, believing that she isn’t popular or pretty enough. I suppose most young girls feel that way.

When you’re coming of age, life seems to throw every obstacle at you; although at the time it feels like the end of the world, getting dumped by a two-week boyfriend via MSN isn't quite the same as ending a long-term relationship with the guy you thought you'd marry. Ten pounds would get us to town and back with a trip to the cinema in between. Now we're lucky if it gets us a bottle of wine and £3 club entry. The kids you spent every waking moment with at school are now your uni flatmates and they suck at washing up their own dishes. The real world is at our fingertips and although we now have the freedom to buy our own cigarettes and alcohol, I can't help but dream of the times I would have to beg for it if it meant reliving those silly problems that kept me up at night.

I feel lucky to look back in awe at my teenage years. Now that I am older, I have found the strength to forget those small niggles that the stereotypical popular girls would say as they passed your lunch table and picked out their next victim. I see my first love out in the town nightclub and smile, perhaps even say hello, without reliving the terrible heartbreak I once experienced. Sometimes I see the young girl I once was in the mirror, but instead of picking out those insecurities I noticed back then, my heart is full. I adore the terrible side fringe and overdrawn eyeliner - everything about her is awesome and I don’t think I will ever truly let her go.
You might not realise it but your 13-year-old self shaped you into the adult you are now. The thirteenth year is a year of firsts for many. Perhaps a first kiss or the first proper birthday party with an even girl/boy ratio. The memories and mistakes will live with you forever and weirdly enough I am more than happy for them to stick around. The embarrassment is no longer present when I think of my younger self, instead, I look back in admiration.

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