Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Things I'd Tell My Teenage Self

On Saturday, I made my usual trip through the pennines to spend the bank holiday weekend back home in Yorkshire. My parents still live in the home I grew up in, so it's always nice to go back to a house that really feels like home. My parents have left my room exactly as it was when I left to go to university in 2009 (except for the addition of my niece's 'sleepover' cot) so it's full of plenty of teenage memorabilia.

Below are some of my favourite books from my teenage years. I may do a separate post on some of my favourite children's / young adult books. Unfortunately I gave away all my 'Angus, Thongs and...' books. What a loon.

Rifling through old photographs, gig set lists and scribbled notes that we used to pass to each other under the desks in science class, I came across my old diaries. These definitely made for an interesting read. I almost wanted to give my past self a hug, but then there were points where I was thinking JUST PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, EMMA, FOR GOD'S SAKE.

And from there we have, Things I'd Tell My Teenage Self:

1. Don't worry, your boobs WILL grow and people will stop asking you why you don't have any. You're a late bloomer, okay. But even if they didn't grow past an A cup, that would be okay too, because there are plenty of kickass women who don't have a DD cup. You'll realise that boobs are no longer a big deal. 

2. Sorry kid, but those spots are not going anywhere. Despite all the prescriptions, face washes and cleansing routines, those bastards are going to set up camp on your face for the next six years. Don't worry too much, we manage ok and there's make up and adults are definitely less mean. 

3. Those girls are not your friends. Stop taking shit from them. They're only saying/doing those things because they're jealous or have problems of their own. Your teachers were right.

4. Stop tying up your self worth with attention from boys. Just because some guy doesn't like you, it doesn't mean you should spiral into self pity. Plus, most of the time they're just as clueless as you when it comes to the whole 'dating' thing. (Although it did feel pretty great when that guy from the year above said he liked you too, right? BEST DAY EVER)

5. Don't be so afraid of everything and try not to care too much about what people think. You'll definitely regret the things you didn't do, more than the things you did do. Even those that didn't turn out so well. 

6. Stop being so embarrassed by your parents. 

7. I know everyone says this, but don't be in such a rush to grow up. Yes you gain a lot of freedom, but there's a lot of rubbish that comes with it that balances it out. Don't feel pressured into anything that makes you feel really uncomfortable. You have a right to say no and you don't owe anybody anything. 

8. Oh my god, do not wish for curves. They will come and then you will hate them as much as you hated your 'ironing board' body. But it'll get better and you'll eventually learn to stop hating your body (as much). It is more than an object to be looked at. Remember that.

9. DO NOT dye your hair black.

10. There are plenty of exciting and amazing opportunities ahead. Everything is going to be fine. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Top Tips for Graduates

As a continuation from my wildly successful post on How to Write an English Essay, I have composed a list of my top tips for those of you who are about to graduate this year. It is a list of things I wish people had told me, or things I tried to ignore as the impending doom of 'real life' slowly approached. But you can ignore it no longer...

1. Graduating is expensive. Never mind the fact that you've had to fork out thousands of pounds for just under nine hours of actual teaching a week, you'll have to fork out at least £40 for a cap and gown that you will only ever wear once. And it will constantly slip off your shoulders and/or strangle you.

Then there's the extra tickets for your siblings and aunties and grandparents and cousins who want to see the reward of three years hard graft, but didn't really know how to help you when you were having a nervous breakdown over the last 1,000 words of your dissertation with just empty chocolate wrappers for friends.

Glory hunters, the lot of them.

On top of that there's a graduation dress or suit and then photos and then a meal and then a hotel room. Graduation is definitely a real money spinner. I might start my own business in ripping off future grads...

2. On graduation day you'll see lots of people from your course who you thought had dropped out in first year. 'How the hell did THAT guy pass?'. You'll also meet lots of tutors from your department who you never knew existed and they will all want to shake your hand. 'Hello person who I've never met.'

I genuinely have no idea who this person was, but I was very happy to see her. Maybe it was Professor Trelawney?

3. It will probably rain.

4. No one will be able to get the 'throw your caps up in the air' picture right.

5. Upon graduating you'll realise just how much spare time you wasted during university. Or you'll have even more free time because you're unemployed. Hello Lost boxset!

6. Nobody actually cares about the in's and out's of all the essays you had to toil over to get that tiny slip of paper at the end. Even if some of them probably removed years from your life with the amount of energy drinks / pro plus / pizza you consumed just to get through to the end.

7. Once you're no longer a student or a graduate, you'll just fade into the grey area of being a 'twenty-something'. Full price cinema tickets have never been so expensive...

8. Freshers have never looked so young.

9. Despite numerous promises to meet up with old course mates, you probably won't see 80% of them outside your Facebook newsfeed. Unless you've all stayed in the same city.

Let's end on a happy note!

10. Never again will you be forced to spend £40 on a book you'll only use once. No more essays! Nor more blagging your way through seminars! No more all-nighters! No more footnotes!

Happy Graduating!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Does Love Really Conquer All?

As children we're led to believe that 'someday our Prince will come' and that in the end, true love will conquer all evil. Even though as adults we're a little wiser and perhaps a little more cynical, we can still get trapped into thinking that our lives would be in someway better if only we had that perfect person to share it with. 'If only I had a boyfriend/girlfriend, then all of my problems would magically disappear! I'll be thinner/fitter/happier/more confident/more successful'.

(inaccurate portrayal)

It's easy to think like this, but of course it's never that simple and it's unfair to expect so much from just one person. And of course that person who you're placing so many expectations on is probably going to have failings of their own. In a sense, it's a lazy way to think about things by shifting the responsibility for your happiness onto someone else. It means you don't have to do anything about the things that are making you unhappy, as someone else will one day come along and fix it for you.

But that isn't to say that being in a relationship will not change you in any way. Of course it will, but instead of heaping all your problems onto someone else and saying 'here carry this for me, won't you?' it's about finding a way of making the load lighter for the both of you. Like in one of those weird team building exercises where you have to make a raft out of some old barrels and raggedy bits of rope. You just make it work with what you've got and laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Maybe I'm getting lost in my own analogy, but what I mean to say is stop shifting the blame for your unhappiness. Love will not ride in on a white horse and magic away all of your problems. It's about being okay enough to be there for someone else, just as much as you expect them to be there for you. It's not about passing the buck, but asking someone to be on your side and in your cheering squad. This can make whatever you're dealing with just that little bit easier.

Love does not conquer all, but it does make it a little easier to fight that dragon.

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