Dear Teenage Me
Being a teenager is hard. This is not a new sentiment and it isn’t supposed to be. Life as a teenaged girl is especially difficult, with the media and society in general quick to dismiss anything and everything teenaged girls hold dear. Our Feminism and Women’s Issues Editor Amy feels very protective of teenage girls and has spent a lot of her time, on the internet and in real life, defending them (particularly Sansa Stark). In this new series, the editors of The Attic on Eighth and other contributors will anonymously write open letters to their teenage selves. We hope you enjoy!
Dear 13 Year Old Me,
You’re worried that you don’t fit in right now. That you don’t have likes and dislikes aligned to your peers or to society’s expectations of the person you are, or rather the person they think you should be. A girl like you should fit neatly into the academic, ‘girly girl’ box you seem to have sprung fully formed from. But life isn’t like that. Eventually you’ll figure this out, and then you’ll nildly regret the time you spent pretending to be someone you weren’t.
Here’s the thing. Now that you’re in your twenties, these things mean much less to you – not because they mean much less to other people (at times it feels like you’re still being crammed into a suffocatingly small space in society), but because it isn’t as important to you. You’ll grow up, go to university, and meet a whole range of people with all sorts of interests. And you’ll find that the ones who you want to be friends with the most, the fascinating and captivating ones, are the people who don’t limit what they are prepared to admit to liking.
It may seem as if to be cool you have to stick to one kind of thing or another. You don’t. Well, maybe that’s not true to other people. Maybe it is just your definition of cool has changed. Now you’re older having a limited set of interests and topics of conversation seems boring to you. You want to be able to discuss everything with your friends; you want the topics of conversation to be limitless. Indulge your love of reading; deepen your understanding of science and the world around you; be fascinated by history and historical things; be passionate about the sports you love; get excited about ballet. None of these things need to be mutually exclusive – you are full of multitudes and you are capable of caring deeply about all these things and more.
So chin up, Teenage Me. Over the next few years, things will fluctuate. It won’t always be easy, but it also won’t always seem this daunting. Life is never predictable, and it will never be plain sailing – it will serve you well to remember that no one’s life is what it seems and that nothing is perfect. Explore your interests, be open to learning about new things and, above all, be kind. Everyone else is fighting some sort of battle, too. Some people will be struggling with the same as you, and if you can create strong enough ties to them, you may just keep them as your friends for life. Well, the next decade at least. I’ll let you know how it works out in another 10 years. I expect we’ll be another entirely different person by then. And that will be no bad thing.