I wish I could go and give my fifteen year old self a hug. She was a bit confused and often felt out of place. She desperately wanted a boyfriend, and couldn’t work out why she didn’t have one. She couldn’t focus on her exam revision and despised the sight of her thighs and tummy in a bikini (she’s always been an all-in-one kind of a girl) and she spent a long time wishing she had brown hair, not ginger.
Six people 15 year old Amie, wished (really wished, to the point she was sure it would come true) that she could be:
1. Sarah from Neighbours. She had really, really long, silky brown hair and was incredibly sexy.
2. Lara Croft. Yes. A video game character. She had amazing boobs and tiny hips.
3. Cher from Clueless. She had great legs and a fearless attitude. I was somewhat lacking in confidence.
4. Faye Joines from my Youth Theatre. She was cool. She was a skater girl and knew loads about feminism. She once wrote a feminist speech for me to perform at our theatre. I was so in awe of her, that I upgraded my wardrobe (over the course of a year) so I could be a skater-girl, just like her.
5. Rachel from friends. She had an amazing tan and very straight hair. And she was funny.
6. Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen. They had amazing fashion sense, were petite in a way I could only dream of, and they were cool! And they always had loads of boyfriends.
Fifteen year old Amie spent her whole life dabbling in the art of being someone else. Which of course she could never be. And the sad thing is, there were SO many great things about her, she just never took the time to notice them. Until she was 17 she was a straight-A English student without even trying. She was funnier than she thought she was. She had awesome eyelashes. She was (still is) a red-head; hairdressers used to shamelessly display their envy for her hair. She was a whizz at Spanish vocab, and could learn it so fast that her Spanish teacher once accused her of cheating in a test when she memorised 60 new words overnight. Her world was so small, she never stopped to consider how fortunate she was, and the fact these things were her biggest worries was a marvelous thing.
It’s always easy to see what other people have and think your life would be better if you were more like them. The truth is, everyone has their good fortune, and everyone has their shit. The reason you are beautiful is because you look like you (and you are very beautiful. Sometimes I play you Lion King songs on my ukulele and you laugh along, fascinated by the noise coming from the strings: your intrigue, bright blue eyes, curiosity and giggles are all incredibly beautiful.) If I could have had it my way, I would have looked so completely different to myself that I wouldn’t have been me. I’m happy being ginger now. I’m happy looking the way I do. Just as you are beautiful without your make up, you are beautiful as you are. You don’t need to wish to be different. (And I’m sure we all do from time to time.)
My 27 year old self tries not to compare herself to other people. She knows she’s a bit odd, but works perfectly in her own way. And she does. There’s stuff she’s good at. Stuff she’s shit at. And there is stuff she can totally get better at, so she’ll try. And even at 27, she could be better at acknowledging the stuff she’s good at. Our society seems to be more condoning of those those less willing to mark their strong points and successes – nobody likes to be seen as bragging. As a result we are slightly under confident and hesitant in celebrating our good points (not everyone, a lot of people). If you’re good at something, it’s fine to know you’re good at it. It’s only bragging if it’s bragging (‘I’m brilliant and you’re not’.) It’s harnessing your strong-points and utilising them. Every time you wish to be someone else, think of all the marvelous things about you that you’d sacrifice if you traded in for another life. Each one of us is a miracle, we made it here against the odds!* We’re diverse and different and that is BRILLIANT!
We could all be a bit kinder to ourselves. How often do we hear other people slate themselves and think ‘But they’re amazing, if only they saw what I saw’? It’s easy to be self critical, to think it would be easier to live it out in another skin, but you have yours for a reason. And what a gift it is.
Somewhere in the universe my 50 year old self is sitting in her house, writing a blog about how she wants to hug her 27 year old self, for things I yet have no idea about. I try to let her know: I’m listening! But I can’t hear her. I suppose I will just have to wait to meet her to find out what she has to say. I can’t wait. And also, I can.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou
*(Read here for the blog on this)
Bonkers, bizarre and perfect as we are…