My eldest turned 16 today! I think I’m in a state of denial, as in my head I can’t possibly be old enough to have a 16 year old daughter. But I am. This was further reinforced when a friend recently posted a video on facebook of hits from 1988. That was the year I left school… 30 years ago!!! Children/people you have to stop doing this to me.
Anyway, it got me to thinking what was I like at 16. I certainly wasn’t as switched on as my 16 year old. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school, wouldn’t have been able to tell you what results I needed to get in to university, or how to go about applying for a course. I was however very adept at applying make-up and going out! Having worked part-time since I was 13, a lot of the people I worked with were older so I was going out with them – goodness only knows the worry I caused my mum! I was still reasonably studious though and got away with it!
I don’t think we realise the pressure our 16 year olds are under these days. The requirement to do well, set yourself apart from the pack and get the results to go on to other things seems to be much higher at a much earlier age, compared to when I was at school 30 years ago. I don’t remember there being the same expectation placed upon us as pupils, or me placing quite such an expectation on myself.
Even when I didn’t do so well, I managed to start my 6th year, decide it wasn’t for me, apply for a course and still get in 3 weeks before the course started all whilst there was a postal strike on. Something tells me, it isn’t so easy now.
I do however remember how awful teenage girls (and boys) can be. Whether it was teasing over my curly hair, my plumper figure, my lack of a boyfriend or my sense of style, they could be down right horrible. And worse was when the person I considered a best friend stopped speaking to me for quite a few months for whatever reason they had, which to this day I still don’t know. It was pretty horrible, but it made me who I am today. It didn’t stop me from passing my school exams, or from getting a degree, moving away and doing well for myself. If anything, it spurred me on.
So, my advice to my 16 year old daughter. Enjoy yourself, work hard, make the most of the opportunities you have, spend time with the people who are worth spending time with and do what you love. At the end of the day, it all passes by so quickly, it’ll be you in 30 years on wondering how you got to this point!
Happy Birthday babe, have a good one.