BY TAHLIA PRITCHARD
When you’re 16, you’re on the cusp of still being a child vs thinking you’re an adult. There’s no doubt about it; 16 is a weird and confusing age. You’re old enough to legally have sex, but like, eww a penis. You’re old enough to think you can have a couple drinks (‘come on Mum and Dad I’m sixteen!’) and there you are rolling around the floor after two vodka cruisers. People who are 14 seem so young and naive after all your worldly experience, but oh God university students are SO old.
Considering it’s been six years since I was 16, and I’m so much more worldly and mature now*, I thought I’d dish out some advice to 16 -year-old Tahlia.
*Not entirely true.
1. High School isn’t the be all and end all, nor does it have to be the ‘best’ days of your life.
And well, thank fucking Yeezus for that. Family friends used to tell me ‘High School are the best days of your life!’ and I’d smile and nod, and on the inside be freaking out, because I actually really hated high school. Oh yeah and that HSC thing? I mean, still work hard for it, but no-one cares about their UAI or ATAR at 22. Unless you’re one of those ‘I got 99.9!’ kids and you feel the need to constantly brag about it for the rest of your life to people who don’t actually care.
2. It’s okay to not know what you want to do when you’re a ‘grown-up.’
I mean, I still don’t properly know. Your mind will change over time, and as the trend is going, you won’t be locked down in the one job for the rest of your life. If 16-year-old Tahlia had her way, she’d be a beautician or child-care worker. Later on, you may realise you don’t actually want to wax people’s vaginas for a living, nor take care of their spawn and that’s okay. Likewise if you do want to do these things, I commend you, because I definitely wouldn’t have the patience.
3. Give people time to change and grow.
Don’t stereotype everyone you went to high-school with in little boxes and think they’ll never change. Some people grow up later than others. Some people really may not change. But hey, maybe give them the benefit of the doubt before casting your judgement on their 20-something year old self if you’re seeing them years later. I am a completely different person to what I was six years ago, and in a much better way. No one likes a bitchy, judgemental 16 year old, so they sure as hell won’t like a bitchy, judgemental 20-something year old.
4. Be careful what you put on social media and online.
Hey 16 year old Tahlia, cool Bebo. Here’s some handy advice for the future: Facebook is a tool to keep in contact with people. You don’t have to be social media friends with people that vilified you in high school and that’s okay. Don’t tweet frustration about your uni lecturer and her slightly…unorganised…subject, because she will see it. Oh, yeah, tweeting is a thing you do in a few years, you’ll see. Look. Tumblr. It’s going to be tricky. Just take the anon setting right off, it’ll save the remaining self-esteem you have and probably years of therapy later on. People are cruel and horrible on social media, don’t be one of those people.
5. Honesty is the best policy.
Honesty will always be the best policy. Don’t hold back on being honest because you have a fear of people not liking you or ridiculing you. When it comes to boys and relationships, be straight up – don’t be one of those people who leads a guy on because they’re scared of hurting them. At the end of the day, hurting people and being hurt is inevitable, and the honest you are earlier on, the easier it’ll be. Likewise for people you are romantically interested in. Tell them. Or sit there forever wasting your time, either one. Actually at 22 you’re still pretty shit at the whole ‘expressing your feelings’ thing, so file that under something to work on.
6. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion.
Not everyone is always going to agree with you. Sometimes you might drop a word like ‘crazy’ and cause accidental controversy. Shit happens. You can’t please everyone and you can’t censor yourself to fit in with everyone’s likings. This doesn’t make you a bad person, but strive hard to remain the bigger person and not stoop to the levels of keyboard warriors.
In your 20s you’re young, free and properly independent. Dye your hair whatever colour you want. Get a tattoo. Think about it first though. Kiss a boy or two on the dancefloor without ever learning their names. Go overseas. Travel somewhere by yourself. Write a book. Don’t use vampires as your subject though, they are so overdone. Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be that person who looks back and thinks ‘I wish I lived my life more.’
8. Music makes the world go round.
On all those bad days, the teary nights and the ‘I hate myself’ stages, music is still going to be your ultimate vice. Whether it’s when you’re 16 and in tears after another day at school, blasting ‘Famous Last Words’ loudly, or whether it’s when you’re 20 and getting the same phrase inked into your side, a permanent reminder of how far you’ve come. Music will always be there for you, and never leave you. Even if your favourite band that got you through it all does break up. Oh yeah. And they will. When you’re 22. It sucks, but you get to see them two times in the future, I promise. Maybe just YOLO it and go for that third show, though. Oh yeah. YOLO is this term people use now….
So there’s some of mine.
What advice would you give your 16 year old self?
Article by Tahlia Pritchard, who still looks like a teenager and actually hasn’t grown one centimetre since turning 16. For more thought provoking things (or total, utter crap), you can follow her on twitter.