From what I know now,
what would I tell my younger self?
Growing up I used to think that my life was going to play out to be this picture-perfect fairytale story. I had it all planned out in my head; Get my dream job at 18, meet my soul mate by 20, have my own house at 22, be engaged by 23 and have a family by 25. Man oh man, how wrong did I get it?! I sometimes have to laugh at the naivety of 12 year old Alicia. And in case you are wondering; Yes, I do blame the romance movies and the disney films for most of it. I mean seriously, where were the story lines of kids arguing daily with their parents, worrying because they’re still single and living at home at 25, constantly crying because they can’t handle the stress of education, finding themselves in crippling debt, staying in bed all day and eating all of the crap food in the house because their life is just an absolute shambles?! Seriously, those are the things that I needed to be exposed to when I was younger, so I could prepare for what was to come in the near future!
I understand that as kids we need to be protected from certain things, but please, just give us an insight of the real struggles!
Unsurprisingly, it did not take long for me to realise that life is not the fairytale that it is painted out to be in the movies.
As we get older, we all become more aware of that fact. We start to understand more about life and the actual realities of it. We begin to learn more about what we want, what our future career choices are, how to manage our finances, which friendships are real, what relationships are worth fighting for, and I suppose, we just start to learn a lot more about life in general.
When I reflect back to my teenage years, I think about how I really could of done with hearing certain things, and I wished an older, wiser person could of helped me to create a road map for life. It would have saved me time, confusion, and worry. And it also would have given me clarity, a sense of calm, and self-assuredness as I went through this very complex world of ours.
With that in mind, I have put together a list of 7 things, which knowing what I know now, I would’ve liked to of told my younger self, over a decade ago:
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
A couple of years ago, someone told me; ‘Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will’, and I cannot tell you how much I wish I had heard it sooner. Throughout my teenage years, I used to have seeds of doubt planted in my head about absolutely everything I thought of doing or taking part in. Even if I knew deep down that I was more than capable of doing something, I would actually convince myself that I wasn’t. It was fear. The fear of not having the abilities. The fear of failing. And much to my regret, I let that fear hold me back from a lot. No matter how much my friends and family around me would encourage me to take on new projects and try out new things, I could never ever believe in myself as much as everyone else seemed to believe in me.
Fully believing in yourself is without a doubt a tough trait to conquer, and I will be honest, I still have to tell myself of this one from time to time now. However, when I look back and reflect on how far I have come and how much I have achieved, through my own abilities and my own self-belief, I realise that I can do anything that I put my mind to; As long as I am prepared to work extremely hard, so many possibilities will be revealed for me.
Understanding that you have the sole ability to create a life that you desire really is such a powerful thing. It is something which inspires and motivates you to want to make changes and try different things in order to see positive results. In turn, you’ll also start to understand that there is a solution to practically every issue that you encounter and that you have the ability to figure out what that solution is.
BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND
Being content in your own company is something which many of us tend to struggle with, but it is also something which we should all strive to feel more comfortable with. Taking time out to just be with yourself regularly, to relax and have some ‘me time’, doing the things that you enjoy most, is honestly one of the most efficient forms of self-care. Too many of us rely on being around other people to have a good time, but who says you can’t have a good time when you are on your own?! Get to know yourself completely; Understand your moods, your motivations, and your strongest desires. How do you feel? If you have a negative reaction to something, take note of it. Figure out why. Also notice when you feel happy, and be aware of the positive experiences. Learn to know yourself like you learn to know others.
When I was in school, I craved the company and the ‘attention’ from other people. I hated spending any moment by myself. I wanted to be ‘popular’, just so I had the reassurance that I was a part of a friendship group where I wouldn’t be left alone. It was unhealthy. Why did I feel like I needed friends to make me happy? I could take myself shopping, or to the cinema, or out for food..I didn’t need anyone else but me. I just didn’t understand that back then!
Now, I pray for days alone. I am not saying that I have become a recluse or an unsociable person, of course I still love going out and being surrounded by friends and family, but I am also equally happy to be with myself, watching a film whilst enjoying a Gin and Tonic. At the end of the day, not all friendships are going to last a lifetime..You cannot rely on other people to bring your happiness, you need to take control and be in charge of your own happiness.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU
When we are younger, I believe that it is only natural to care about what other people think of us. And as much as we say we don’t care, truthfully we really do. Now, I am not saying this is necessarily a terrible thing, but it can have the ability to become all consuming. Of course we all want people to think good, positive things about us and our personalities; However, if we start thinking too in-depth about it and worrying too much about what others think, then it can have negative affects. It can often lead us to act in certain ways; We start to act in a way that we think other people want us to, and before we know it, we’re not acting like ourselves any more.
Growing up I always wanted to try and act like everyone else around me, in order to attempt to ‘fit in’. But now I realise that being my own unique self and ‘standing out’ is actually a lot more fascinating..And a lot more fun too!
“Do you know what happens when you decide to stop worrying about what other people might think of you? You get to dance. You get to sing. You get to laugh loudly. You get to paint, write and create. You get to be yourself. And do you know what? Some people won’t like you. Some will laugh or mock or point out flaws..but it just wont bother you all that much.” – Doe Zantamata
This is a quote which I once stumbled upon, and it really does summarise this in the most perfect way possible. Once we stop worrying about what others think, we start to fell free to be ourselves. It is liberating. After all, if we are enjoying ourselves, not taking ourselves too seriously, focusing on ourselves, making ourselves proud and doing everything for ourselves, then WE have nothing to worry about; Let the other people judge us for being us. We could spend our entire lives trying to impress everyone, but the reality is that not everyone will be impressed. And spending time chasing after the approval of others is not only exhausting, but it also keeps us from discovering the best parts of ourselves.
If you ever catch yourself in self-doubt, call on your wise inner self to remind yourself that you only need to please and receive approval from yourself; No one else. Do not let anyone else’s perception of you, influence your choices or your actions.
THERE IS NO RUSH FOR ANYTHING
Throughout secondary school it seemed as if everybody around me had a plan. They all knew what colleges they wanted to go to, what subjects they wanted to study, what career they wanted to do in the future..It was like they all had their whole lives figured out already. Me on the other hand, I was still struggling to figure out what I wanted to be eating for lunch the next day. It was such a confusing time and I remember getting SO frustrated over it. I wasn’t sure on whether I even wanted to go to college or not, never mind knowing what I wanted to study and excel in as a possible career. Personally, all I was interested in at that age was knowing if could become a scoubidou braiding professional or a world champion at conkers..Unfortunately, neither of them were an option!
After leaving school, the majority of people went on to do exactly what they said they were going to, but I remained stuck in the same old rut for a number of years. I was just working job to job, earning money, not having a bloody clue. And as happy as I was to see everyone else progress, it was horrible for me feeling left behind..It was very bitter-sweet. I remember getting angry at myself on a daily basis for not knowing what I wanted in life, and without sounding too dramatic, I was actually petrified that I would never figure it all out. At 19 I got so stressed about everything that I even starting making silly decisions out of haste..I remember applying for courses to go and study which I had very little interest in studying at all, never mind wanting to pursue them as a career! It wasn’t until I hit my early-mid twenties that I started to get a real idea for University and for future career options that I was truly interested in (You can read all about that here!).
I was always paranoid thinking that I was getting older and running out of time, but what I have learnt from it is all, is that there really is no rush for anything. There is no real pressure to do things in a certain time frame; It is just a pressure which is built up by society around us..And we feel the need to succumb to it. The moral of the story; there is always time. If you’re 25 you’re young, if you’re 40 you’re young, heck even if you’re 65 in this day and age, you are young! There is no rush for anything..Not education, not career choices, not a relationship, not a family. Everyones life is different, we all experience things at different times and move at different paces, and that is perfectly normal. We just need to learn to breath, slow down and understand that everything will work out how it is supposed to.
BE AROUND GOOD PEOPLE
It goes without saying that you usually become a representation of the people that you surround yourself with. For example; best friends tend to adopt the same way of talking, the same mannerisms, the same habits..So, to be the best version of yourself, you need to make sure that you surround yourself with the best people.
When we are young, it is often very hard to distinguish the good friends from the not-so-good friends. Maybe this is because at that age we are a little more naive and we like to see the good in everyone we know, or maybe it is because we don’t understand that there really are some people out there who are just not good for us. Who knows?! For me personally, I have always been that person that gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. I like to believe that whenever someone messes up, they really didn’t mean to because they are a good person deep down. Sadly though, since being a teenager, I have learnt that this simply is not the case.
Over the years, I have definitely had a handful of experiences where I have surrounded myself with others who are not good for me to be around regularly. This does not necessarily mean that they are bad people, it just means that we probably weren’t compatible to be with one another. I’ve experienced friendships where effort has been completely one-sided, relationships which have been ridiculously unsupportive, and in general I have just been exposed to a few people who are negative, self-indulgent and who sit back and blame the world for all of their problems. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to sit here pointing the finger and act as if I am perfect and constantly the best person to be around, after all, we all have our off days, but when some of these certain characteristics are a part of someones constant personality, it can become draining over time.
The best advice I can offer from this is that rather than give people chance after chance after chance, when you first start to get doubts about someone, it is usually the wise option to trust your gut and cut them loose. As hard and upsetting as it can be, you will realise in the future that it was the best thing to do. Trust me. You want to ensure that you’re surrounded by people who put in the effort, who support you unconditionally, and who are going to bring out the very best in you. Be around someone who encourages you push the limits, who motivates you to reach for your dreams and who comforts you when things go wrong. And when you find those people, never take advantage of them. Treasure them like they are sacred and always put in the effort that you expect and that they deserve. It is a two-way street after all!
DON’T EVER TURN YOUR BACK ON FAMILY
Now, I never need to be reminded of the importance of family. My family are my absolute everything and although there might not be many of us, I am appreciative for each and every one of them every single day. I will make all of time in the world for my family, and I will always be there for them when, or if they ever they need me. However, as much as I do respect how important family is, it unfortunately does not take away from the fact that I am actually cut off from a semi-large portion of mine..Which truly does break my heart on a daily basis.
When I was in my mid-teens, my mum and dad sat down with my brother and I and explained to us that they would be getting a divorce. Of course we got that whole typical speech of ‘nothing is going to change, we both love you so much, we are still family’, but inevitably, it was all horse crap in an attempt to soften the blow. I remember that I tried to be tough about it at the time and act as if it wasn’t hurting, but deep down, I was breaking. I had grown up with friends who had divorced parents, but I never imagined that it would happen to mine.
Their divorce proceedings started imminently, but things unnecessarily got dragged out for long periods of time, and it took over a year to get finalised. For that year, we were all still living in the same house together..It was an awkward and tense atmosphere to say the least! At first, things seemed to be ok, but the longer that everything went on for, the harder it became. Arguments started happening daily, nasty comments were thrown about like word vomit and it just became a negative and horrible environment to be in. And honestly, kids should not have to be in a situation where they are exposed to that kind of behaviour from their parents..Trust me from experience, it is damaging! Some of the comments I heard were enough to haunt me for a lifetime, and it got so bad in the end that I even had to talk to a therapist for it!
As the months past, things deteriorated even more. My dad was holding an abundance of resentment towards my mum, as it was her who initiated the divorce, and eventually, it started being put on to me too. With me being such a ‘Mummy’s girl’, it seemed as if my loyalties always swayed towards my mum, which I guess kinda gave my dad a little bit of a reason to resent me as well. I never meant to make him feel bad or feel like I didn’t care, I just had no idea how to handle the situation. I wanted to stay neutral, but I knew that I couldn’t be with one without hurting the other. With my dad feeling this way, I slowly began to notice with time that he wasn’t only making comments to my mum, but he was making comments about me too. Horrible comments. Comments which no teenage girl should ever hear their father say about them. It broke my heart, and I quickly built up anger and hatred towards him. I told him that after the divorce I was moving in with mum and that I didn’t want to talk to him again. Sadly, that is exactly what happened. Mum and I moved out 8 years ago, and since then, I have had very little contact with my dad, and no contact what-so-ever with his side of the family.
Now I have gotten older and had time to reflect on everything that happened, I understand that my dads comments came from a place of hurt, not a place of malice. He was already loosing his wife, maybe he didn’t like to think about the possibility of loosing his daughter too. In no way am I condoning what he did or said to me, and I’ll never be able to forget or forgive most of it, but I do realise that he didn’t mean to upset me the way that he did. Honestly, he probably didn’t even notice how much of an affect it really did have on me. I wish more than anything that things did not end up this way, as being disconnected from a whole side of my family is devastating for me. And as much as I would love to make amends with everyone, it now seems too difficult with how much time has past..Maybe one day we will all reconcile, but for now the bridges will remain burnt.
LEARN TO LOVE EVERY MOMENT
Referring back to the beginning of this post; life won’t be perfect, but we need to learn to be in love with every single moment of it..Both the good moments and the bad moments. As cliche and as corny as it sounds, life really is a rollercoaster, and although it has ups and downs, it always ends up on the right track.
As much as I dislike to admit it, I have always been a little bit of a sensitive soul and as minuscule as a bad moment may seem, it has the ability to affect me in a big way. When I was younger, the smallest things could cause a catastrophic amount of upset, and I remember that I would let myself be sad about them for days or even weeks at a time. However, getting older and slightly more wiser, I have come to realise that the bad moments will only make us appreciate the good moments even more. And no matter how bad a specific time may seem, it will always get better and things will always work out! There is no point in holding on to the bad moments..It is completely exhausting and a waste of our precious time.
Like everybody else in this world, I have gone through many tough and some traumatising times, but by learning to find a positive in every single negative situation, I have managed to come through everything on the other side. It is so important to not let your low times be the thief of joy! Life is a wonderful thing; enjoy it, be thankful for it and love every single moment of it.