I read a piece in The New Yorker today by the marvellous Alex Siquig and, in the interest of self reflection, I thought I might also proffer some advice to teeny, tiny me. Firstly though, do read his piece, it's excellent. Click on the thumbnail above and it should take you there. Go on, click him. Click him right in his tweenage face.
Ok, now back to my tweenage face.
I know what you're thinking and, no it's not just the photograph, everyone in the 90s was this blurry. We were just walking around like Mr Soft listening to our Minidisc players and thinking about how worldly we were with our dial up internet and Encarta 95. No one was HD until 2010. I digress. Back to the task at hand. In response to Mr Siquig, I give you my own advice to that fuzzy she-beast up top:
Travel. Go everywhere, do everything but don't be a dick about it. One of your biggest regrets in life will be not travelling enough while you had the chance.
Stop underestimating yourself. Life is full of ups and downs and this is just the beginning. You grow up to be a rather funny lady and you can take a lot in your stride. You are more intelligent, witty, and resilient than you realise. There are galaxies and nebulas inside of you. You are a world of possibilities and you can, absolutely, be anything you want.
Stand up for yourself and others. Even if it's the harder, less convenient thing to do. If it's the right thing, do it.
There's no such thing as The Career Ladder. It's not a ladder, it's a climbing frame. There are a million ways to achieve the goals you have. As long as you keep your eye on the prize, it doesn't really matter how you get there. So, when the careers advisor at school tells you that you can't take a gap year and must go immediately to law school tell her to, politely, go fuck herself and go somewhere you've never been before and learn something new. Ps- everyone in your family becomes a lawyer (obvs). But just wait and see what you end up doing...
Wear your retainer (braces). You are going to half arse this because you're too embarrassed to wear them at school. You go to school with a thousand girls, nobody cares what your mouth is doing. So, wear them and get it over with because that tiny misalignment is going to drive you crazy as an adult.
Your life is going to be hard. I'm not going to mince words here, you are going to go through a lot. Sometimes a great deal more than your peers. Try to be as good humoured as you can about it, especially when dealing with health issues. A positive attitude goes a long way and you will rely on this on the worst days. In a way, it does get easier, your threshold for pain is through the damn roof now. You had a spinal tap last year and didn't even wince. You're basically a tank in a tutu.
For the love of God, get your eyebrows threaded. Do not, under any circumstances, pluck your eyebrows. You will try this one day and you will look stupid for about four years. I love you, but those enormous Bert and Ernies need professional attention.
Cover your drinks. Never let anyone make or buy you a drink that you can't see in front of you. When you are walking around bars and nightclubs make sure your drink is covered and cannot be interfered with in any way. Just trust me.
Keep a diary (better). Write everything down, regularly, and keep it always. You will pour over it many years later and wish you had so much more.
Be good, be kind, be honest. Don't lie. Don't cheat. Give to charity, not just because it's part of your religion, do it because you're not a douche canoe. Give up your free time to help people and keep those good manners you're acquiring. You go through a point in your early twenties where you end all your birthday invites with things like, "No uglies and no fat people". Stop being such a cunt. It's been nearly 10 years and you still feel bad about it. Think about your granny every time you're about to be unkind, she is the best person you will ever know. Be like your granny. Incidentally, when you're at university, you visit her every Thursday and massage her weary bones and make her a fruit salad. Thank you for this. I hold on to the memory for dear life.
You will have one, truly shitty boyfriend. Don't worry, everyone has them. Just don't let this asshat get away with telling you that you need to lose weight and go to the gym. During this time, you are absolutely minuscule and underweight already. He just doesn't want you to realise that you can do better. There are (terrible) books about this, it's called "negging". So, hello, you can do better. Now go eat something you tiny, tiny bird woman.
Stop fighting your fancy. Your parents are fancypants and that's actually rather lovely. Stop fighting it so hard. They are incredible, inspiring, and important people. So relax, and be proud of them and the nice life they have made for you. And say thank you more, you little shit.
Don't worry, all the strange and awkward you're experiencing gets hot eventually. You will grow into your giant eyes and one day, you will get boobs and they will be glorious. You will also get proposed to several times (blame the eyes and boobs). I know you've never felt particularly pretty or interesting but perhaps that's because you're actually beautiful and ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. See? BLOCK CAPITALS, it must be true. Seriously though, relax, all the things that make you feel awkward and incongruent now are exactly the things you'll like about yourself when you grow up.
Brown people are on TV now, and not just on the Asian channels. I realise the world you're living in currently is incredibly xenophobic and ridiculous but there's an entire show staring a brown lady now. And it isn't about curry. Brown people are on mainstream television, some are reading the news and some are wearing Chanel. Who knew? No Pakistanis yet but, one day maybe. Oh, and most importantly, there is finally a brown Barbie. No, I'm serious. She looks like your sister. Five year old me feels so vindicated. In your face, dollies that look nothing like my people.
You get married. To someone you know already *spoilers, oh my* Commitment terrifies you when we grow up. So start getting used to this idea now and we should level out by around, 35?
Sarah Connor, Princess Leia, Buffy Summers, Ellen Ripley... Keep going, you're onto a good thing.
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