If I met my teenage self, I’d cringe and pretend I didn’t know her.

Sitting in Starbucks this morning, I found myself in a situation I haven’t been in for almost a decade; sitting next to two teenage girls on study leave, complete with massive ringbinders and several too many different coloured highlighters. As with all girls who have committed the day to serious revision, they spent most of the morning chatting to each other and putting on unnecessary amounts of eye-liner. I normally feel pretty young, but when confronted with the real deal, I left the coffee shop at the ripe old age of 25 feeling almost painfully old in comparison.

Sharing the same seating area as the couplet, and as a result of teenage girls having absolutely no concept of privacy, I naturally now know these two better than most of my own friends. (I shudder to think the amount of people who know my entire life story from multiple loud coffee shop and bus ride conversations that I ignorantly broadcasted before I left school.)

I wouldn’t want to spill confidences, but here are my fave tidbits from the few hours we spent together. Wise words from the youth of today, all verbatim, all said with entirely serious faces.

On friendship.

“We’re not exactly best friends.”
“Well, would SHE consider you to be her best friend?”
“Yeah, probably. But I wouldn’t say she’s MY best friend if you know what I mean.” -pause- “Obviously don’t tell her I said that.”

___

“I used to make friends so easily, like remember when we were in year nine, you could pick and choose you know? Now it’s just so much more complicated.” -worldly sigh-

On relationships.

“Did he call you?”
“Well he didn’t call me, but he did text me before he went to sleep. And then I replied, but he didn’t reply.” -pause- “..but he was probably asleep.” -longer pause- “…although he’s probably awake now.” -checks phone-.

___

“Did you see them together?”
“Yeah, I was really surprised. But look, its up to him who he gets with isn’t it?”
“And she IS so skinny now.”
“Yeah that’s true. Maybe I’m not that surprised. -pause- I wonder if she’s like, anorexic.”
“If she is, someone should definitely tell him.”
“Yeah, maybe I should tell him.”

On family

“Wow, I really love that skirt.”
“I know. And my mum said it didn’t match my top!”
“My mum said the same thing!”
-high five-

___

“I personally think you’re prettier than your sister.”
“Right but she IS really smart.”
“She’s fake blonde though right?”
“That’s true.”

On politics

“Do you want to study at mine tomorrow?”
“I actually said I would study at X’s. I would totally invite you but I’m not sure if people are invited or if its like a thing.”
“Oh ok.”
“You know if it were my choice them of COURSE you would be invited, but I just don’t really know what’s happening. -pause- why don’t you phone and ask? You should definitely phone and ask.”

On work ethic and self image

“Can you test me on this vocab?”
“Sure. But first look at this pic from X’s Instagram.”
-laughs far too loudly- “That’s amazing!!! Here, lets take our picture.”
-they move to sit next to each other and spend five mins taking the same selfie over and over and deleting it-
“Ah, that ones good. You’re so pretty.”
“What do you mean? You’re stunning! I look awful today!”
“You’re crazy!”
-returns to studying, vocab clearly forgotten-

Five mins later:
“We’ve been revising for ages. Want to go get food?”

 

Definitely the world leaders of tomorrow. Now to spend some time on Google checking no one’s written a blog about the creepy lady who was frantically transcribing their conversations all morning in a less than subtle way.

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Struggling into the light

Hardship. Some of us seem to have so many problems and worries, while others swim through life avoiding any simple misfortune. It hardly seems fair.

Robert Frost once said “Depression occurs when one looks back with no pride, and looks forward with no hope.” I think this is so poignant and true. If we can isolate an event, or even several events, to certain times in our life, it becomes much easier to deal with. If we can say, “I have so much in my past to be happy about, so much up until now that is good” it makes it much easier not to dwell on an unfortunate circumstance. The same is true about the future. Looking ahead, if we can say “Wow, there is so much to be excited about and look forward to” no matter what age we are or stage of our lives, it makes it simpler to believe that this too shall pass.

We all know people who seem to be permenantly upset. Things are always going wrong for them, they always have something to moan about. Conversely, we all have neighbours and friends with constant sunny dispositions, happy-go-lucky types who never complain. It can’t be true that everything in the happy persons life is always great. Similarly, it would take an extreme situation to have absolutely nothing to be glad about at all. I believe that how we show ourselves to friends and acquaintances is key to our own mood.

Dont get me wrong, when it comes to close family and friends, there is nothing better than a good cry and a vent, both of which can be surprisingly therapuetic. Letting yourself say how unfair things seem and expressing your misery is a valid step in the process of getting through any upsetting event in your life. But then what? However many times life knocks you down, there isnt an opt out button. A quote from an excellent film while discussing a characters wife’s death expresses this more succinctly than i ever could. Forgive my paraphrasing.

“I don’t think i could continue living”
“That’s the worst part of all, you do.”

And so we search our lives for the pride and the hope which Frost is referring to, and we try as hard as we can to rebuild whatever is broken and where that is impossible, just clear away the shattered pieces of ourselves and start again. And it’s difficult, and painful, that cant be denied. But at the same time, it is growing, and changing, and learning more about yourself and your life and the people in it during the stormy parts than you could in a lifetime of calm waters. Some people find it harder than others to pick themselves up again, and some people undoubtably have to do it more times in their life than others, but for everyone, it is possible.

I don’t really think going through difficulties is the hardest part. After all, we have no choice, and unless you enjoy being miserable, we dont even really have a choice as to how we respond and whether we pick ourselves up again or not. Plus I have seen firsthand how out of some of the most painful experiences can come the most wonderful rewards.

No, going through hardship isnt the worst thing, because it’s all about your own choices and what decisions you make and when. You are in control. Harder in many ways is watching the people we care about have struggles. Helpless to do anything, impossible to take it from them, wincing at their mistakes or their lack of ability to move onwards and upwards.

All we can do is try to remind them of the pride they should feel in all their past accomplishments, the unlimited hope and faith they should have in their future, and try to keep them company until they can find a way out of the darkness on their own.