Monday, 2 October 2017

Lessons from my 17-Year-Old Self



I see a lot of articles on Facebook and in magazines about the advice you would give yourself if you could go back to a younger age. I think it is a comforting idea that in a few years’ time you will look back on all these troubles and no longer have to worry about them because God helped you through. You wish you could go back and tell yourself that it will all be alright and not to worry. I completely understand this, there have been extremely difficult times in my life where things have come out alright in the end I wish I could have known that then. I also feel, however, that some of the best years of my life were my teenage years, not something many people share I think but I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful school where I had great friends, supportive teachers and a lot of opportunities. This meant I learnt, and grew and developed into a person I was quite proud of. I know I didn’t have it all right, I was quite cocky, arrogant and very mouthy but I often look back on the girl I used to be and can’t believe the things I would do and achieve.


After school, I entered quite a difficult period of my life, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a job and for the first time in my life doubted myself and my decisions. This lead to applying to a total of five different university courses, two failed degrees, mental health problems, multiple jobs I didn’t enjoy and wasn’t valued in and a few bad relationships with guys I really shouldn’t have been with. It’s been a hard five years since leaving school but I wouldn’t change it, God taught me so much in that time and all these experiences have led to amazing growth in my relationship with him. I do however, finally feel like I am coming back to myself but along the way have lost some of that spark and confidence I had as a 17-year-old. I wanted to write this post to remind us women that we all have the power to choose who we want to be. We can all achieve great things no matter how big or small your dreams. So here are my three lessons from my 17-year-old self to remind us all to dig deep into ourselves and believe.

Confidence:
I was a very confident girl at 17, I believed I could achieve anything I wanted to. I would audition for roles in all sorts of musicals, plays and performances and often I would get them. I had the confidence to just go for what I wanted and that confidence made other people feel confident in me, they believed they could trust me to do the job they needed and I would often get the part. Something I feel I need to work on is building my confidence back up, I’ve had a lot of failures over the last five years which have knocked my confidence but I need to start believing in myself. I want to have the confidence to do things that are harder to get or more difficult to achieve but would be worth it in the long run. I want to once again find the confidence to follow my dreams and to believe in myself. 


Big Dreams:
I have always been a big dreamer. Ever since I was little I dreamed big dreams some of which have stayed with me all my life, being a world-famous author for one thing. Again however, the difficulties of the last five years have pushed my dreams down. I feel as we become adults we are in danger of taking the easy road, accepting that we must all live in the same way – office job, marriage, house and a package holiday once a year. I think we need to learn to dream the way we did when we were children. I don’t want to settle into a 9-5 office job, it isn’t for me. I want to write my books, have a successful blog, start a magazine, live as self-sufficient as we can and travel the world. After I left my second degree I started to close my dreams down, try to find an easy sensible job to settle into but it wasn’t what I wanted. I want to dream the way I did when I was 17 believing anything is possible if you work hard enough.



Resilience:  
I often think back to my two final years of school and wonder how on earth I did it all. I was studying for my A Levels, performing the lead role in a huge musical on the big stage in Liverpool as well as playing a lead in the school production and a lead in a local Shakespeare Production. On top of that I was having singing lessons, taking my grade 8 in Speech and Drama, running the school’s charities committee organising charity events every month, leading worship at my church, taking piano lessons, and dating a guy from my church. If I tried to do all of that now I think I would just curl up in a ball on the floor and cry. It was a bit mental and I have no intention of going back to that fulltime but there is a part of me that wonders what went wrong. I was able to do all of those amazing things whilst studying at school full time and yet now I worry about going out after work twice in one week. A lot of this fear is to do with my struggles with anxiety and mental health as tiredness is a big trigger of panic attacks. I haven’t however, had a panic attack for a long time, in fact my anxiety has been so much better for months and I think it is time to remember that being busy won’t kill me. I want to regain some of my resilience, to remind myself I can achieve a lot of things and to just go for things even if I’m not sure as an experience is never wasted and may lead to a great opportunity.



There you have it, the three lessons I have learnt from my 17-year-old self. Of course, what is so great about looking back is you can take the lessons you’ve learnt all throughout your life, put them together and create the person you want to be. I don’t want to go back and become exactly the person I was at 17 but there are aspects of my personality then that I’d like to add to my personality now. This journey becoming the person I want to be will never end, as my mother always says happiness is a journey not a destination. God will lead me in all sorts of ways I couldn’t have imagined and new experiences will add to my personality. I am excited to see what the future holds and will keep reminding myself to be confident, resilient and dream big.
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2 comments

  1. What an insightful post Rachel. I think this is absolutely brilliant, picking lessons from your teenage self. What you said about big dreams really resonates with me, I had such big dreams when I was in my early teens. I wish you luck in incorporating these aspects of your teenage self, beautiful pictures. xx
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