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A Coffee Date with 16 Year Old Me

Hello world it's me, freshly *just turned 26* me and I'm here to have a word with my former self. I'm very much a nostalgic person and I always think about my teen years and they might not have been all singing and all dancing (but come on, who's are? Its such a turbulent period of everyone's life and as cheesy as it sounds - it's a time of self discovery) but I do look back on them fondly - even the bad times! Last year I wrote a post on 25 Things I Learned in 25 Years and it seemed to go down well with you guys and to date, it's been one of my most favourite posts to write because I got to be nostalgic, laugh at some things I'd almost forgotten about and just reflect. So today, I'm another year older and not necessarily another year wiser, but I am going prove that I definitely am compared to my 16 year old self.

Everyone is young and stupid as a teen. Please don't be offended when I say that - I'm not directly calling you stupid if you're that age right now - but I would happily bet all my money on the fact that when you're my age, you'll think of some of the stuff you did, said, thought at 16 and think "what on earth was a doing?!" because it's all a learning curve. Even if you are or were a teen with your head screwed on and were wise beyond your years, you'll never believe that every decision you made was a good one. But like I said, it's all part of growing up and growing and learning as a person and it's not something you should regret or worry about, but it's something you should be able to reflect on and hopefully shake your head in laughter at the worst. So. 16 year old me. What would I say to her if we went for a coffee?

First of all it would be in Starbucks in Newcastle, right by Grey's Monument because that's where I wasted a good 4 hours of every Saturday afternoon with my friends. If I wasn't in there, I'd be in the glorious underground coffee shop/tanning salon hybrid just off Northumberland Street(that I'm sure only the likes of Newcastle would combine) because the hot chocolates there were as big as my head and came with enough sugary snacks that they basically made a meal for weight conscious, skint 16 year old Amyleigh. She'd be sat there, in a pair of skinny jeans that were so tight, you could see the pocket outlines on the front so they looked spray painted onto her legs. Her hair would be backcombed to buggery and ill-fitting hair extensions which had been perfectly straightened or ringlet curled would be hanging down around her face. She would be wearing a mask of the wrong colour foundation, far too much mascara, blusher, and a sticky Britney Spears lip gloss that came free with her beloved Britney Fantasy perfume. She'd have a septum piercing through her nose that doesn't suit her and be wearing her much-loved brown (I know) leather jacket with the anchor pin badge on the collar because she was so hardcore/MySpace and her ballet flats would match whatever vest top and cardigan combo she was wearing that day. She'd have one of her many skull print scarves draped around her neck and one of her Topshop handbags that would match her ballet shoes too. She'd be sat shivering from the cold but god forbid she'd put another layer of clothing on. She'd be extremely sarcastic, closed off, and really, not that different to 26 year old Amyleigh.

There's so much I could say to her - so much I would want to say. I think however I would start with boys because boys were the centre of the universe and the driving force behind everything from how she did her makeup, to what bands she listened to, to how much she got into trouble with mam. I'd tell her:

- Don't shrug off that guy who was dating you to see how far he could get with you. Fight him. Boys and girls can be mean during your teens and they can be after one thing and one thing only. It's fine if you don't "put out". It's fine if you'd rather go to the cinema than stay at home watching a movie because a) you don't want to get awkward about not having sex and b) mam will cut his willy off if she caught you anyway.

- When you're 17, do not let that guy who text his friend "I'm not sure about her teeth" on your first date go anywhere near you. He doesn't even deserve a hug. You might think it's great having a "proper boyfriend" (because apparently after 16 they become "proper") but have a bloody high bar they have to hit. Giving him a chance will mean you'll find out he's also given at least 5 other girls that lovely chance (so generous of him) at the same time. Your teeth are always going to be something you're not happy with but you know what? You're going to get comfortable with them. Heck, you're going to post a full teeth smiling selfie on Instagram and actually think you look nice. I know right? So yeah, that guy? Not worth a dime.

- You didn't meet your soul mate at 15. You'll be alright. You might have been like peas in a pod and you might have basically have been the male and female versions of each other, but it won't last, don't cry and stay off school because of it - get a grip! You'll still wonder about how he is and what he's doing now from time to time because ultimately, he was your best friend, but you weren't destined to be together (though you'll forever be thankful that he stole you a copy of The Hungry Caterpillar from the mobile library for you and he was worth that day of skipping school - and all the trouble you got into as a result. You little no so sly devil, you).

- When you're 26 you'll still be kind of shy about your sexuality at times and you know what? That's okay. You're getting there. Sound the alarm. Being bi wasn't a MySpace kid phase and your girlfriends as a teen are some of your most valid, genuine, and enjoyable relationships so do not let anyone dismiss them. You might keep the whole thing secret from most of the world and from those who matter most at times, but at least you're being true to yourself and there's no shame in that.

- Don't let others hold you back so you can make them happy. You should be your main priority. Doormat is a forehead tattoo you do not want Amyleigh but if you're not careful, that's what you're going to end up with. You have always been a girl who's been more concerned with everyone else (grandma always likes to remind you of the fact that in primary school you were always the last one out at the end of the day because you were zipping everyone's jackets up for them and making sure they hadn't lost their gloves). But guess what? Think about you because trust me, it will take you a good long time to eventually do it more, but loving yourself and putting your needs first is paramount.

- Mam was right, snakebite piercings and 2 Monroe piercings is not a good look for you. Trust me, you'll thank the fact that she was so against piercings when you're older.

- Your social anxiety is going to get worse and worse each year but do your best to fight it. This is something you will work on but also kind of let take hold in life and the balance will work out for you. Don't feel pressured to do social things you don't want to do but also don't turn away opportunities because you're scared. You'll strike a balance and manage to function just fine so hang in there.

- No you won't go to your girlfriends' weddings and be godmother to their kids. Being a teen means you often don't have a lot to focus on so friends are usually prioritised and become the centre of your universe. But guess what? The girls you're friends with at school aren't going to stick around. They're not going to be there for you and you're not going to be there for them. You're allowed to grow apart and it's a natural part of life that actually? You'll be pretty pleased about one day because realistically you don't have a lot in common with them do you?

- You wear too much fucking blusher. Your cheeks don't need to guide planes in to land.

- By 26 you will be a seasoned solo-flyer and actually crave travelling alone. I know you're terrified of flying right now, 16 year old me, but believe it or not - that will go! By time you're 26 you will casually rock up to the airport numerous times a year and board a plane like it's no big deal. You'll do stupid shit like get a hire car with 3 complete strangers and hurtle your way down the A1 to get home during a severe storm and not even blink an eye. You might have this increasing anxiety to deal with when the rest of the world is concerned but you? You're going to get so much stronger so give yourself a pat on the back.

- You might think your eyebrows are great right now but trust me, that shit won't look good til you're 24. Trust me, I've seen all of the photographic evidence. The brows need and thankfully receive many improvements.

- You're intelligent. Use it. Flaunt it. Don't get lazy. Aged 26 you'll still struggle with blowing your own trumpet but hey! You're a clever girl *insert Chris Pratt Jurassic World style voice* and you need to flaunt that some more. Even after university (I know - you get there eventually sister so hold tight) you'll put yourself down but keep the flame of "I'm pretty damn smart" burning at the furthest recesses of your mind just so you don't lose sight of your intelligence.

- You're always going to be a "what if" person and it's a shame. Turns out even at 26, you still won't take the leap a lot of the time and you'll just wonder what could have been or should have been and that's one thing that we need to work on, girl. If I could time travel back and make sure you knew one thing it would be to go with your gut. Whatever you feel in your heart is what you should be doing - do not let Mr Clever Clogs upstairs in flat "Brain" tell you any different.

- All the stupid shit that comes your way; just embrace it. You're going to look back on it all so fondly one day. The sitting in a field at 1am with good friends and a bottle of white rum in the middle of summer - worth the bollocking off mam the next day. The hopping from college to college because you will be unsure about what you're doing with your life - worth it because you'll go to uni to study something you love eventually. The friendships you forge with the least likely characters - worth it and don't question them. You'll realise they're the ones you still want to speak to when you're 26 who mean a huge bunch so make an effort, yeah?

I would apologise for this long waffle of a post but I can't tell actual 16 year old me the good the bad and the ugly so it falls on your guys' shoulders instead. I said it last year and I'll probably say it every single birthday but I'm not worrying about getting older and I don't feel any older, but I do like to use this time to think of all the good and not so good in my life and how it's helped me grow. No doubt this time next year, I will be looking back on things with a totally different spin on it all, the spin of a 27 year old (good lord).

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