5 Things I wish I'd known growing up
I have few regrets in my short life, there are many moments of pain that have happened that I have looked back on as learning experiences and chosen not to regret.
But of the few I do truly regret, all were avoidable.
The tragedy of hindsight is its ability to show up when you're just starting to get control of your life and fling you back into your memories, reminding you of the mistakes you'd rather forget.
Over the past few months, I've been experiencing that melancholy realisation that if I'd just made smaller changes some of the defining trauma's in my life may have been avoided.
So, a small part of me wants to record those lessons, so maybe my younger cousins, or my future children might learn how to avoid the mistakes I couldn't.
1. Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can also do damage
I was ten the first time I thought about killing myself.
As young and innocent and seemingly carefree as a ten year old is expected to be I was not. I used to sit on my bed and stare at my mirror and think about all the names I was called. I would sit there for so long I started believing them and then down the rabbit hole I would fall.
I would hear the saying constantly "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!" and it used to frustrate me endlessly. Because they did hurt. The more they were said to me the more they would hurt and the weaker I would feel for letting them.
I wish someone had been there to tell me that it wasn't me that was the problem, it was the people taunting me with those words. I was allowed to be hurt by them because they were intended to hurt my feelings.
Pretending they didn't hurt only made me internalise their taunts more. The more I tried to 'ignore' them, the more I believed them and started to see them every time I looked in the mirror.
I regret wasting such an important time in my life internalising the pain I was feeling and taking it out on myself when it was never my fault to begin with.
2. The only approval you need seek is from yourself
Those girls either wanted to be your friend or they didn't. There will always be people in your life that you will try to surround yourself with that you shouldn't.
There will be friendships that are one-sided and relationships that end up becoming dry and empty.
If I could go back in time I would go back to when I was ten and sit myself down.
I would explain that I will always have this desperation deep-down to be liked by others. It will always be there. I would tell her that I had two choices.
I could let it fester, let that desire burn a hole through my chest until it dictated everything I do in my life or I could let it exist within me without deciding my fate.
Unfortunately for me I don't have the ability to go back in time and so ten year old me had no guidance when the desire started burning.
That desire dictated my life for the next 8 years.
I needed approval from others and so I sought it out constantly in everything I did, to the point where I became a person I hated who would do anything for attention and love from others.
I regret not approving myself from the start and allowing my decisions to be made based on what was best for me instead of what other's thought was best for me.
3. Your parents have your best interests at heart, even if you don't think so
If you had of asked me at 15 who I despised most I would have told you it was my step-mother.
I would have detailed all the things she did that meant she was controlling me or punishing me for things that were not my fault.
I would have vehemently cursed her name and wished she never existed.
In truth, at 15 I was a mess. I had no control over my life. The only person who noticed this intense spiralling and tried to step in and assist was my step-mum.
She would sit with me and talk about the petty dramas at school even though I'm sure it bored her immensely.
She would ask me where I got the new bag, or that lacy bra she washed over the weekend as an opportunity for me to come clean but I didn't see it.
I lied to her and to my father so often it almost became as normal as breathing.
But she always knew, even when I thought I was getting away with it.
If it hadn't of been for my step-mum and the events that followed I wouldn't be the person I am today, I wouldn't be able to look back and recognise that through it all she was just trying to look after me. She wanted to save me from myself and I didn't appreciate her enough for it.
I regret how long it took me to realise that she, and my mum and dad, just want whats best for me.
4. You cannot make people be what you want them to be
This year I learnt that I can't make people like me, I can't make people want to be my friend or listen to me speak, or believe in the same things as me.
A part of me wishes that I could mould people into the exact versions of themselves that I want them to be. The people that could help me, challenge me, help me grow, love me and be there for me at the exact moments that I needed them.
But then another part of me knows that that would serve no valuable purpose to me.
If all these people were exactly what I needed than they wouldn't be what I needed at all.
People are always going to be themselves, even if I plan out every possible version of a conversation in my head before it happens there is still the possibility that it won't go the way I thought.
This year I learnt that not everyone will answer a message as soon as they see it like I do and that's okay too. I'm not annoying and they're not rude.
We're just different people and that's a good thing.
5. Life is too short for being scared of the 'what if's'
When I was eight I wrote my first proper story in a blue and black journal. I went home and typed it up on our house computer and printed my first ever manuscript starring the boy I had a crush on at the time and myself solving a murder and falling in love.
It was 74 pages and I only ever showed my mum and dad.
At thirteen I posted a video on YouTube of me singing "Check Yes Juliet" by We the Kings.
I took it down three days later because someone mentioned it at school and I was terrified people would find out and make fun of me even though I really loved singing.
At seventeen, a little over a year ago I started this blog. I questioned it everyday for 3 months and almost took it down a hundred times.
But its still here.
And I'm not scared anymore of what someone might say about it.
I wish eight year old me and thirteen year old me had the confidence I do now to try it and see what happens.
The isn't enough time to be wasting that many seconds worrying.