Psssst! You, yeah you. I’ll let you into a little secret. Gather round… Comfortable? Here goes… I wasn’t the same person I was 10 years ago. Baffling, right? That’s not to do with me having multiple personalities or anything like that but simply, I’m finally comfortable to be myself, I’m a little bit weird, a little bit eccentric and I’m totally fine with that, in fact I love that. It makes me original and I’ve never been happier and more content within my own skin. My one main regret is I only wish I knew how to be myself when I was a teenager.
It’s fair to say being a teenager is a strange time, your hormones are hyperactive and every day at school seems like you’re starring in Mean Girls. Before joining high school, I was a popular kid from my town who was doing well with his football, a few rough edges but hey, I was doing alright. I was cool and when you’re a kid, that’s all that matters – even if it means naff all now, though)
All of that changed when I had to make the jump from primary school to high school, a transition that is never easy at the best of times. I not only had to make the jump but I had to jump to a high school outside of my catchment area where I knew no one and I was no longer the “cool kid”. I was just a regular boy – and my ego didn’t like that.
All I had learned about being “cool” from this small town was being a bit of a joker, rebellious, loud and generally being a bit of a dickhead and anybody who wasn’t… Well, they clearly weren’t cool. So when I went to a high school in this posh village and struggled to adapt, I couldn’t understand where I was going wrong. It was all I knew. Why no one was warming to this chavvy mess, is beyond me…
So as I struggled to fit in with my new classmates, common sense would tell anyone that maybe I should stop being such a nobhead and just be myself, be friendly, be approachable, engage with people.
Nah, mate. This spotty, hormonal, testosterone-filled walking ego was not going to bow to common sense. Clearly, I wasn’t being enough of the nob, I needed to up the stakes – it was embarrassing. It was so embarrassing to the point I pretended to not know who the Foo Fighters were and I kept repeatedly calling them “Food Fighters”. Bad times all round.
I had subconsciously developed a “small town” mentality and I played football with the usual “lads” who engaged in the classic “locker room banter”. Yes, locker room banter was a thing at 12 years old – apparently, if you used anything other than Lynx Africa shower gel you were instantly a homosexual. I’m not excusing myself for being a bit of a douchebag when I was younger, I was just easily influenced and going from being super cool and popular to not very cool and popular was incredibly difficult. It was a very confusing time
It took an inspirational Infinity on High album by Fall Out Boy to push me into my next phase -emo/scene. Whatever it was, that album changed me and I got inspired to pick up a bass guitar. Although I had some very questionable hair, it definitely made me a better person. I was more open-minded, I was pleasant, I was polite, I was friendly and funnily enough, I was less of an angsty teen. Sadly, this came after I left school but in the space of a year, I had changed massively and I started to reconnect with some “friends” from high school. By friends, I mean people who let me sort of mooch around with them at lunch but now, I have such a respect for those people who didn’t want to see me by myself – even if I was a bit of a cock.
Looking back now, at the ripe old age of 24, I’m now much more comfortable within myself, who I am and what I stand for. I understand now that being polite and friendly isn’t a sign of weakness or vulnerability but actually a sign of generally just being a good person. I realise now that being who you are will make you feel so much better about yourself and not only that, people will often like you if you are yourself. I know it may seem a tad cliche but honestly, if there is one thing I could tell my poorly-styled younger self, would be JUST. BE. YOURSELF.
The only person who told me that was my mum but when you’re a teenager you often don’t take your mother’s advice or you don’t appreciate it as much. It’s not been until I’ve grown up and looked back at the advice my mum has given me in the past to realise that my mum has been right about most things. I’m sure there are people who are currently going through the same situation or can at least relate to this article in some way. If you’re struggling to fit in, honestly just be yourself and let people love you for you. I wish, someone had told me that other than my mum and maybe I would have been a lot happier during my school years.
*This article was written in 30 minutes and inspired by a lot of wine and a meeting with my old school friend.*