I am loving looking at the 10 year challenges that have been popping up on social media over the past week. What isn’t entertaining about looking at how goofy some of your favourite people looked a decade ago? I wanted to take part, but I wanted to do something a little different – I wanted to evaluate how much I’ve changed since 2009. Be prepared for something gritty!
Here’s me now…
And here I am at 16 years old!
Don’t I look exactly the same?
Except, I definitely was not exactly the same. This time 10 years ago, I was mid-way through my last year of secondary school. I was studying for 11 GCSEs, one of which I didn’t even have a lesson for! I was also learning AS English Literature because, well, Literature is my thing.
Despite being quite academic, I wasn’t a great student. I rarely did homework, and I never turned up to school in time for form time. I spent a lot of time wandering the corridors, and I used to aggravate other people in lessons for my own entertainment. Due to years of meanness and borderline bullying from others my age and older (in some cases a full four years), I had a violent streak which carried through with me until I was well into university. At home, I clashed with my mum all the time, and ignored my brother. I was also way too busy hanging out in the local shopping centre with my boyfriend, who was a year older, to bother with my family.
I also had a complete inability to maintain friendships. A group of peers had decided I couldn’t be in their group anymore (for reasons I never knew), another group of peers took me under their wing, but I never really fit in (thanks for all the party invites though – they were a blast). I did have some friends in the others that didn’t really fit into either group, but we grew apart quite quickly after school. I walked home alone most days. I didn’t want to go to the prom but was convinced by one of my teachers on the last week we could buy the tickets.
With all that came a total lack of interest in exercise or personal development, an enjoyment of arguing on Facebook and Mayfair cigarettes, a desperation for attention, and a total resentment of myself.
Here’s the power of hindsight, sometimes I wish my life 10 years ago had been different. I’d have worked harder. I’d have put more effort in with people. I’d have been less angry, less quick to attack someone – verbally or physically. Where most people have close friends from school, I don’t – I have acquaintances who, for the most part, I wish I’d had better relationships with.
But, back to the now. With a new haircut and some bold lipstick.
I’m an educator, a homeowner, a happy daughter, a happy girlfriend, and a new dog-owner. I finished my degree in English Literature and earned a PGCE. It’s been three years since I smoked, I’m learning to kickbox, and ironically, I’m significantly less likely to throw a punch if I’m angry – as in it’s not going to happen. Now, I have friends I can rely on, who I will be there for whenever they need me. Now I don’t hate myself.
I’ve come so far in a decade, especially in the last two years, that sometimes I barely recognise myself. Perhaps if I’d been a better 16 year old, I wouldn’t have been such a comfortable 26 year old. As Scrooge says at the end of A Christmas Carol, ‘I am not the man I was‘, and that really resonates with me. I’m proud of myself.
So, over to you. How far have you come in 10 years? What makes you proud of your 2019 self?