With some of the country’s 16-year-olds getting their GCSE results last week, it got me thinking about how much time has passed since I was in that boat, thinking of where to go to college, what subjects to take for A level, whether I could deal with more Grammar School days, and dealing with my first bout of heartbreak. Being 16 is a confusing time in itself – you want the attention from boys, but want to go and get drunk and hang out with your friends, yet also not mess up your chances of getting into a decent uni which seems like a lifetime away. Oh and you are desperate to drive…

One of the reasons I came to write this blog is because we recently had a girl at work in to do work experience and one of her tasks was to have a career chat with us about how we got to where we are today. It dawned on me that I was 16, 10 years ago – that may make me sound like a bit of an idiot (obviously 26 minus 10 years is 16, congrats Ellie!!) but what I mean it, it’s just something you think about in passing, without really thinking about it. I felt like my career chat took longer than expected because there are so many twists and turns and ups and downs that got me to where I am today, and it’s exhausting to think about it in that much detail – and in all honesty I am not where I thought I would be 10 years down the line.

Me and one of my best friends always laugh about where we thought we would be by aged 26 – it’s your mid-twenties… surely you should have this whole career thing nailed, have a husband and a baby on the way… you’re an adult now. But in reality, 16-year-old us didn’t have a clue about what the real world would be like.

When you’re 16 you’re getting your first real exam results, and have to make your first adult-life decision, which when you think about it, is pretty damn young. I remember at the time, we had made friends with boys that were two years older than us (I know, unheard of, what a hussy etc. etc.) but because I knew they were doing their A-levels and had already been through the 16-year-old version of exam stress, I gathered that they weren’t that much to worry about.

I always knew I would get the grades to get back into the 6th form at my school, and if worst came to worst then I could always go to college with my rebellious friends who couldn’t wait to get out of there! Also, I’ve never been one to massively worry about exams, through school, college and university because to be honest I always knew I would do the best possible… maybe there was room for improvement, but it all added to the tapestry that is my life.

In hindsight being friends with those boys who were on the cusp of getting into university was both the best and the worst thing for me. To this day I am still close to them all, but instead of sitting in revising, we used to go out, drive around aimlessly (because to any 16-year-old girl, boys who can drive are just the coolest) and sit in parks just chatting about life. It sounds lame now but at the time I was enjoying my life so much that it didn’t even dawn on me that this probably wasn’t the best idea, but that was exactly the way I wanted to live my life – without too many cares, but enough awareness to not screw things up royally. Maybe I would have got all A*s if I had revised and taken them a bit more seriously, but you know what, I’m proud of my achievements… and I did get back into 6th form if anyone was wondering!

Career chat aside, it’s strange that when you’re 16 you think you’re on the cusp of adult life, when in reality you’re still a child; I’m 26, and I still feel like I haven’t got this whole adult thing down in all honesty. There are obviously ways in which I’m different to my 16-year-old self, but in other ways I don’t think I’ve changed much at all – I’m still really close to all my friends, I see my family regularly and I still aim to be as happy as possible and not put too much pressure on myself. At the end of the day, life is what you make it, and sometimes what you don’t expect to happen can be the best part.

Unfortunately now though there are more setbacks and worries and things that could be seen to hold me back from being a happy-go-lucky kinda gal, but hey, that’s life for you. Back then I had no idea where my life was going to go, where I would go to uni, if I’d even get in to uni, if I would move city, or stay at home, keep my friends close by or fall out of contact… but that made my teenage years much more exciting, and I don’t regret any decisions I made. Even now I don’t know where my life is going to take me, I mean, I have more of an idea, but not knowing is the best part.

If I could give advice to any 16 year old out there, looking back on all of my life experiences, it would be to really make the most of every day and not listen to what everyone else has to say. As cliche as that may sound, the more I decided I didn’t care what people thought about me, the more fun I would have. I still managed to get through my A-levels and university with the same mentality that things will always work out in the end. The more pressure you put on yourself and have put on your, the less likely you are to enjoy the curve balls that life throws your way.

Although nowadays it is harder to live that way in a society that always expects the very best from us, it has always made me smile to think about how carefree I was when I was 16, and how much I value those years xxx

Since I was younger, I’ve never thought of myself as being a confident person, despite what I know people think of me. I have always being plagued with anxiety and have sometimes felt very claustrophobic and shy when I meet new people, but I am aware that a lot of people think the complete opposite of me. To me, when you are growing up there are three types of confidence that you regularly have to come to terms with; they are, confidence in yourself as a person, basically meaning that you believe in yourself, and that  the decisions you are making are right; confidence with the opposite sex and being able to get to where you want to be with boys, whether for friendship or more, and lastly, body confidence – being confident in the skin that you’re in.

When I think of young women and confidence, I know that we are sometimes slated for how much we let social media influence our lives, and ergo our confidence. We know that the people on Instagram or Twitter, and the celebrities we compare ourselves to aren’t everyday women like you and me; they have personal trainers, make-up artists, chefs etc. that help them live the lifestyle of being in the public eye. But it doesn’t stop us from thinking that they are better, or richer, or thinner, or more toned than us, which in turn decreases our confidence. What are we like eh?

When I was a teenager I was at an all girls school, which meant that I never really had much experience around the opposite sex. In fact, I even went to an all girls primary school, so I never really spend time around boys properly until I was about 13. I found that when I was meeting boys though, they weren’t as hard to talk to as I once thought, and I have many friends now who are male that I am just as close to as female. Once I was able to break down this wall of anxiety around the opposite sex, I felt as though I could really be myself and enjoy the company of them. Don’t get me wrong though, I still felt nervous and jittery from time to time, and I still don’t 100% feel comfortable meeting new people, but that’s just my personality, plus that’s with either gender.

Throughout my life, I have also had problems with my weight. I’ve mentioned before that being on different forms of contraception massively influenced this, but overall I think that I have always felt as though I would be happier if I was thinner, which I know is an unhealthy attitude to have. I have noticed this much more in recent years since I have left university, and been in a relationship, which may seem like a strange time to be doubting your self image. I was looking through old photos the other day of me when I was around 19/20 at a club in Manchester wearing a spaghetti strap dress, no tights and quite a lot of questionable orange makeup, and I just couldn’t believe it was me. If you know me, you’ll know that 1. I absolutely hate my arms, and I don’t think I have had them out in a good few years (quite possibly since that night) and 2. The thought of not wearing tights on a night out immediately fills me with dread. When I saw the picture I couldn’t quite believe that I had managed to be so confident with the way I looked, even though I would have said I was slightly larger back then. I’m still not quite sure where all that confidence went, but it was nice to see that at one point in my life, I really didn’t care what anybody else thought of me, and that is an attitude I want to get back.

This is a strange post to write because it might sound like I am saying that I really care what other people think of me, but that is not the case. It’s a strange one being a girl: We do and don’t care what others think of us at the same time, and in turn this makes us act the way we do, dress the way we do, and even sometimes create a persona and a completely new attitude towards life. In the past at work, I’ve felt that my true personality has never really shone through until recently. Although in myself I feel shy and anxious, people tend not to perceive me in this way because of the person they think I am, from the person I tend to portray. I build up and act more confident than I really am because I feel this is more attractive for a person and more accepted; but since I have been enjoying work more, and I have found a job that suits me I feel I can be myself and therefore be more confident.

Stay happy folks x

As you can imagine, it is hard for me to write anything at the moment, let alone beauty, lifestyle and fashion pieces, or anything else that is classed as ‘relatable’ content – but bear with me whilst I am going through this time. It won’t last forever, but in all honesty, I also don’t know when I will be back up and writing pieces I love producing, that people enjoy reading. Life is a massive
rollercoaster at the moment.

I’ve started and re-started this blog so many times, which I think will give a good indication of where my head is at… But it won’t come as a shock to many that me saying the last few weeks have been some of the hardest I have ever faced, and although I love writing and it does help me to clear my head, I am finding it hard to get all my thoughts straight in general, let alone on this blog. If you don’t know the ins and outs of my life, I won’t go into too much detail.

I wanted to write this though in case there are any other people that might be going through something similar, or dealing with change in a positive way. I am not going to try and relate this blog too much to my current situation but openly talk about change in a more general way and how I’ve managed to deal with it in the past, and my plans for the future.

Change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, which is something I’ve learnt throughout my life. Just because something is different, or has a different outcome to what you were expecting, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad thing. Take my career path for example: I studied Journalism, English, interned at PR companies, worked in a call centre, worked with gamblers, with numbers, worked with copywriters, worked as a copywriter, worked in restaurants, bars, pubs, you name it, all to find something that I enjoy doing.

I already know that in my life I’m going to have to deal with change, and that’s totally fine: I am going to move out of my family home and buy a house, I am going to become a mum, a wife, an in-law, a homemaker, and who knows what else in the future –
and knowing those things makes me happy and comforted. I also know that there are lots of areas of change that I’ll have no control over, but the more you think about it, the more overwhelming it can become, so I think it is important to focus on the present and live in the moment.

Change is one of those strange things. Sometimes it creeps up on and flips your entire world upside down; sometimes its months maybe years, in the making; sometimes it can affect everyone, sometimes you’re alone; sometimes it’s your choice, and
sometimes not; some people embrace change, and for others it can be the worst thing in the world. Change can also be a direct result of timing – if the timing is not right, and something doesn’t work out like you expected, it might lead you down a completely different route which you were never expecting.

There are a thousand and one ways to deal with change and from what I have gathered over my 26 years is that it’ll change every time. They say to deal with a break up you should surround yourself with friends; to deal with a job loss, you should jump
right back on the ladder; to deal with a bully, you shouldn’t rise to it… but I 100% believe that whatever makes you feel comfortable is the way you need to deal with change – it needs to be for you. People deal with change in different
ways, and the important thing to remember is there isn’t one right way, it’s however you want.