Looking back on my teenage years, I realise that I didn't quite have the same kind of experience that we all imagine when we think of an angsty sixteen year old. There were no wild parties, or sneaking out to get absolutely paralytic on blue WKD round my mates house... I know, I know, have I even lived?!
If I had to describe my teenage self using only three words, those three words would be: shy, painfully so- hands up who once made their mum write a note to their English teacher, explaining that they wouldn't be able to take part in 'show and tell' in front of the entire class? Oh yes, that'd be me. Public speaking brought me out into a cold sweat, I forever wanted a deep dark ditch to swallow me up- and I was perhaps a tad too hormonal and feisty... but hey, what's changed?!
Don't get me wrong, my teen years weren't completely horrendous, but let's just say that I definitely wouldn't sign myself up to go through them again. Like most, there were tough times- incredibly testing, tough times in fact- and lots of hair and beauty disasters, hellooo bright blonde hair and barbie pink MAC lipstick.
But those very same tough life lessons- and thankfully beauty lessons- have taught me a lot. So me being me, I've decided to openly share the crucial life advice I'd go back and lecture my teenage self on...
1.) Everything in life is temporary
...So if things are going good, enjoy and appreciate it because it won't last forever. And if things are going bad, don't worry, it won't last forever either.
Lauren, you're only sixteen, and I know that it seems like your entire life around you is starting to crumble. Nobody would find it easy receiving and living with the diagnosis of M.E, and then having to contend with watching their Dad suffer horrendously with bipolar, and the devastating manic highs and lows that come part of that, but please don't forget that life always has a way of turning around and improving.
And don't worry, you'll get through your exams, even when at times it seems impossible. You'll feel atrociously unwell each and every day, but the important thing is, this part of your life won't last forever. Always know that better times are right around the corner, hold onto that glimmer of hope to get you through, because tough times are temporary, and they're making you a much stronger person as a result.
2.) Never ever try and change your true self in order to fit in
I know that you're young and you want to be liked, and most importantly, you want to fit in with others, but please don't hold back your passions and goofy side in case you're laughed at. Wear that skirt that you adore, even if it isn't considered 'cool', and that witch cackle laugh of yours? Don't suppress it, you're happy, and once you leave school you'll soon realise that the opinions of others- especially the 'popular gang'- really won't seem as important anymore.
3.) It's okay to admit that you're struggling
No good will ever come from bottling up these strong emotions of yours, and y'know what, it's okay not to be okay 24/7. Never think that you aren't allowed to cry and admit that you maybe might need a little bit of emotional support from others from time to time- whether that be a hug from your mum, or a heart to heart with your best friend, you don't have to feel upset alone.
It's okay to cry, it doesn't mean that you're weak, or that you aren't handling things well, I just beg that you let someone in on the hurt that you're feeling.
4.) Comparison is the thief of joy
Ahhh your biggest downfall in life; comparing yourself to others. Now this one is tough to combat, I'm not going to lie, but please listen when I tell you that just because another girl has beautiful hair, that doesn't mean to say that you don't have beautiful hair too.
I know that you spend your days longing to look, and most importantly be somebody else, but just take a moment to realise all that you've got. So the next time you're out shopping, don't stare at all of the other girls walking by wishing that you looked and had everything that they had, you're perfectly fine as you are. Both you and your life aren't a failure, you're good at lots of things, don't be so hard on yourself.
5.) Haircare is important, don't abuse your locks
Just a little heads up, washing and straightening your hair everyday teamed with using bleach, and then failing to use heat protector, and never paying a visit to the hairdressers to have a trim will result in disaster.
Look after your hair for goodness sake, your hair will fall out and snap off and you'll be left with awfully thin, damaged hair that will need chopping off into a bob.... told you so, I bet you'll never make the same mistake again, right?!
6.) Life doesn't always go to plan
You desperately long to live a 'normal' life, I know. But psssst, a little birdie told me that although your original plan of attending college and bagging yourself a full time job didn't quite work out due to chronic illness, you'll soon set up a little blog in a few years time and you'll discover that you love creating cupcakes, and taking photos.
All I'm trying to tell you is: life doesn't always pan out the way that you once thought it would, but that's okay, a new route arises and you'll soon discover a totally new opportunity that might not have presented itself if your original plan had, well, gone to plan. Have faith in your abilities, and let go of all of the worry, because things always work out, even if it takes a completely different route.
7.) When the going gets tough, don't quit
And last, but not least, please don't ever quit Lauren, you're too strong willed to even consider it.
You'll often think about quitting most things as you feel too unwell and exhausted to peel yourself out of bed most days, but as the popular saying goes: "The moment you're ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. Don't give up."
Yes you might struggle daily with dizziness, exhaustion and general ill health but the things that you do manage to achieve are a huge accomplishment. Don't for one minute even consider packing up blogging in the future, it'll lead to amazing things.
Okay so I promise that I'll shut up lecturing you now- I know that you don't like being told what to do, HA- but one last thing, put down the bright bloody pink barbie lipstick, it's not a good look for you babe. Oh, and I hate to tell you, your mum really does know best.
To those of you that have managed to reach the end (I applaud you, I'll whisk you up a batch of cupcakes as a thanks for not getting bored), I'd love to know what you'd tell your teenage self?