10 Things I Wish I’d Known As A Teenager

It's Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 and Natasha Devon has taken over The Mix! Inspired by her upcoming book 'A Beginner's Guide to Being Mental', Natasha shares the top ten things she wishes she had known as a young person growing up...

10 Things I Should Have Known As A Teenager

1. No one actually knows what they’re doing

Life is just doing your best, moment by moment, with the circumstances and resources you have been given. A lot of the time, it’s frightening and overwhelming. Growing up is just the process by which one becomes more adept at hiding this.

2. Self-esteem isn’t something you either have or you don’t

There is no ‘secret’. No one wakes up one morning and decides consciously to either love or hate themselves. Belief systems creep up on you, like ivy growing over a wall.

3. Health is a lifestyle, not a look

There is no such thing as a ‘healthy weight’. If you are nourishing yourself properly and taking regular exercise then your body is exactly as it is meant to be. Trust it.

4. ‘Confidence’ is just another word for ‘Practice’

Absolutely everything is terrifying the first time you do it. Usually, if someone appears natural and confident at an activity it just means they’ve been doing it a long time.

5. Every affirmative action represents a small triumph

Life doesn’t happen like it does in films, where there is a fast-paced montage and suddenly the main character undergoes radical transformation which means their life is entirely sorted. Change happens step by step, chunk by chunk.

6. Not everyone will agree with you

Some people will always be unwilling or unable to see things from your perspective. Don’t let them make you doubt yourself, but don’t expend unnecessary time and energy trying to persuade them you’re right, either.

7. Not everything gets resolved

Many of life’s heroes remain unrewarded and villains unpunished, as well as conflicts unresolved. Learning to live with that fact represents a type of satisfying closure, in itself.

8. No one ever asks you what you got in your exams past the age of 21

That isn’t to say that education isn’t important. In fact, it might be the most valuable thing there is. But the skills and knowledge we learn whilst at school, college and uni are far more precious than the grades we’re awarded at the end of it.

9. It’s okay to articulate a need 

Human beings are pack animals and thus evolution has made us deliberately imperfect. We stand a better chance of survival if we rely on one another and therefore no one is good at everything. Really. NO ONE. Not even her.

10. ‘Immaturity’ is just another word for intellectual freedom

People used to tell me my political views were idealistic when I was a teenager but now I’m older I realise they simply meant ‘determined by wanting things to be fairer for everyone and not purely by how much tax you have to pay’. If the word had existed, I would have been called a ‘snowflake’. Today, I’m a defiant snowflake and I hope my younger self would be proud.

Find out more about Natasha’s new book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental’.

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By Natasha Devon

Updated on 14-May-2018