Being overweight, a ginger/ranga/natural redhead, nerd and type 1 diabetic seemed like a lethal combo when it came to school. I naturally had several things that fellow students could use on the daily to try and bully me and bring my confidence down. Today, I am about to become a volunteer mentor for a high school student to help them visualise and achieve their dreams, and it makes me wonder what advice I would have given to myself in high school. So, here’s what I would say to my high school self, knowing what I do now:
Dear High-School Mrs Ginger-Fox,
– You aren’t as overweight as you think you are. In fact, Future You is the same size (and less) than what you are right now – and I think that is awesome! Hormones are a bitch, and everyone seems to go through an awkward, wobbly, uncomfortable time with their body, and that’s part of being a high-schooler. If people don’t go through this in high-school, they get to experience this as a full-grown adult instead. One bonus about this is knowing that, almost 10 years after high school, many of the girls who picked on you for being ‘fat’ are now larger than you. You have maintained, and continued to live as healthy and balanced a life you can.
-I’m so proud of you for not dating while you’re still at high school. It is good that you are using the time to develop yourself – you are slowly figuring out who you are without requiring the validation of someone else in such a fragile time if your life. I AM SO PROUD. There’s no way in hell you are ready for the commitment and endurance of a life-long relationship right now. Heck, you can’t even commit to a set sport subject for a term, or even which subject areas you want to focus on…you are not ready to choose a life partner. I’m so happy you dedicate yourself to being a high achieving student, and value education and learning over boys and drama. The amount of the relationships that you see in high school that actually lasted? You can’t even count it on one hand…well, half of those ended up separating years after high school, or getting divorced at a young age. Go you for ‘fighting the patriarchy’ and the norms and not dating some loser who is only interested in you now you’ve gained boobs. Hah.
– STRESS LESS. Geez, woman! You’re not even 18, yet you’ve managed to learn how to stress like a middle-aged salary man. I get it – you’re naturally high-strung, but you don’t need to spend so much time worrying over one tiny assignment. Don’t forget about that one time you almost cried because you got 18/20 and thought it wasn’t good enough…silly perfectionist self, that’s ABOVE AVERAGE and freaking awesome. In the end, your HSC, while important, does not define you. So many people you know who aced the HSC ended up bombing out at uni, while many who bombed the HSC are now doing amazing things. Do the best you can with school and work hard, but work smart. Be productive and work in small bursts, and allow yourself time to explore hobbies, have fun and not over-stress about something that really won’t impact you 5 years from now.
– Keep your passion for learning! For god sakes, woman! You are such an inquisitive person, with a drive to learn new things and to expand your knowledge. This is SUCH an important and undervalued skill to have as an adult, and a skill even more underappreciated as a teenager. Especially with your nerdy-inclined interests, this makes you appear as such an extreme nerd to everyone else. But you know what? When you’re older, the people who are the most interesting and most inspirational are those who are uniquely passionate and enthusiastic about their own weird and quirky interests. Everyone else who followed the high-school trends is as boring as soggy cardboard on a rainy day. Stay enthusiastic about what drives you crazy and keeps you up at night (yes, that includes reading the Lord of the Rings into the early hours of the morning). Stay interesting. It will make you discover the most amazing people, places and things as an adult.
– Don’t worry about what people think. Seriously. As the saying goes: “be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” You know what happens after high school? All of those people who stood their ground, said f*** it and went after what they wanted to do in high school are now incredible people with so much growth as an adult and individual. They were determined, driven and didn’t care if some other high schoolers thought they were weird, nerdy, or whatever. And that stubbornness to stick to what they wanted, it’s rewarded them tenfold as an adult. (Disclaimer: I firmly believe to go after what you want/believe, provided it does not cause harm or directly harm others. So yeah…be responsible in decision making, or something? Haha).
I’m so excited about having the opportunity to mentor a young student and help them realise that they are capable of achieving so much, and that life doesn’t end after high school. Here’s hoping they are able to experience and learn from some of the lessons I learned as an adult, and realise their true potential in the process.
This post was polished by Page & Parchment.