Sophie Le Brozec is a 40 year old mum who blogs over at Franglaise Mummy.
Sophie is a Brit, married to a Frenchman and mum to two strong-willed half French half English daughters. Having lived in the south of France for 12 years, then London for 5 years, Sophie and her Franglaise family set up home on the tropical island of Mauritius in 2015.
Sophie blogs about her experiences of parenting and life in general in these different countries, and in particular about how you can lead a happier life.
Dear Teen Me,
You don’t know me (yet) but I’m your 40 year old self, coming back to you from the future, Marty McFly style, to give you some very important life tips and advice that you’ll need to get through your teenage years.
40 year old Me
First of all, let me be honest with you – the teenage years are BRUTAL. Let’s face it, you’ve got an afro that could put the Jackson 5 in the dark, you’ve got a terrible wardrobe, and zero dress sense. When the teen years are all about the looks, you’ve got off to a bad start.
It’s not looking good as the teens start…
But the good news is that you are strong. Being the middle child of 5 kids helps.
Having two big sisters that constantly take the p*ss out of you means that you have developed a thick skin, this can only help as you make your way through the minefield that is the teen years.
So here is my advice for you, Teen Me:
When you are a teenager it is really tempting to join in with the others, to follow the crowd, and if someone is being teased, or made to feel bad, it is so easy to just go with the flow and to follow along. After all it’s just harmless fun, right?
Wrong. As much as that person might be smiling, or pretending not to be bothered,
the likelihood is that they are crying inside, and asking “why me?”.
Be the nice person. You’re strong enough to stand up to the crowd, so do it. Don’t lower yourself to these mean girls’ level. Be the ‘Summer’ of your crowd (from the fantastic book Wonder by R.J.Palacio – if you haven’t read it, do! Such an important read for any age, but particularly yours).
Looks aren’t everything.
You have probably already figured this out if you’ve looked in the mirror! Whilst being the prettiest girl in the school might seem great, believe me when I say that a strong personality and self-confidence will go a hell of a long way.
Believe in yourself, in who you are – your real self and not the one you think that people want to see. Love yourself. The teen years are awful for self-criticism and even self-hatred. You will be tempted to scrutinise every last millimetre of yourself and find fault with it. But don’t!
Look yourself in the eye in the mirror and tell yourself ‘I love you’. Find the bits you like the most about yourself (or failing that, the bits you least dislike). Maybe you think your eyes are OK? Be grateful to the gods that they granted you boobs when your hairstyle makes everyone think you’re a boy!
The girl with bad curly hair and school uniform
Thankfully looks aren’t everything.
Learn to love those bits of you, and accept that there will always be parts of you that you don’t like. Over the years you will learn to highlight the good bits and hide the bad bits.
Feelings of frustration, anger and resentment are normal.
You are a teenager but you feel like an adult and already look like a woman. So why does everyone keep treating you like a kid? It makes you feel crazy! You vent, you rant, you lose your temper. Life is so unfair! Nobody understands you and you’re so fed up.
I hear you. I understand. I remember it well.
But it really is for your own good. You might look like a woman but your body still isn’t fully developed yet, so drinking copious amounts of alcohol is not to be recommended (do as I say not as I do!).
You might feel like an adult but your emotions have not yet caught up with your adult body. It’s going to be a roller coaster in your head, body and home for quite a few years to come. Whilst your parents, older siblings and other adults may feel like the enemy, most of the time they have your best interest at heart.
And if you could try not to slam doors and storm off in a rage too much, that would be fab too!
There are so many questions about sex.
There are so many physical and emotional feelings whizzing through your body that you don’t know if you’re coming or going. A good-looking boy smiles at you and your feelings soar, you’re flying higher than the sky. Then a girl in your class makes a nasty comment and you come crashing back down again.
Everyone is talking about sex, and you don’t know what to do. You know all about it, the ins and the outs as it were. But nobody tells you when you should be doing it, and how far you should be going. So you take your bearings from what others are saying, and you try and figure out an average across those who seem to be doing everything and those who seem to be doing nothing.
But when it comes down to it, the only person who can decide what you should be doing, at what stage, and with who, is you.
Trust yourself and your own instincts. If it feels wrong before you do anything then it’s unlikely it will feel right afterwards.
You might get teased by “friends” or ignored by “the boy” but it will be short-lived and I guarantee you won’t regret not doing something you can’t undo.
If in doubt, find an older girl or woman who you like, trust and respect. Someone you get on with. This might be a friend’s mum, an aunt, an older cousin or an older sibling’s friend. Ask her if you can talk confidentially. I’m sure she will be more than happy to answer any tricky questions for you. If you’re embarrassed, put it in writing to avoid feeling awkward face to face.
You are loved.
Almost everything that you experience now, that feels unfair, and like the whole world is ganging up on you, is 99% of the time done for your own good, and because you are loved.
You are not handed everything on a plate because you need to learn to work for it – life doesn’t just give you the good stuff on a silver platter.
You are not allowed out late to that party on a school night because school is important, yep sorry, but it really is.
There are places you’ll be forbidden from going to, but that’s because it’s dangerous for someone of your age there. You think you can handle anything, but there are some nasty people out there, and some nasty situations you really don’t want to get into.
Enjoy the good stuff and don’t stress the bad stuff
Teen years are an absolute roller coaster and the bad stuff can feel like the end of the world, but the good stuff can be so so incredible and so much fun. Enjoy the ups and don’t stress the downs – you don’t get these years back but the years you’ve got ahead of you are even better!
That’s my advice, Teen Me, I hope it helps you get through the minefield.
All my love,
40 year old Me
P.S. I almost forgot – your body is unlikely to ever look so smooth or firm again, so make the most of that now 😉
If you’re feeling a bit lost and like a teenager yourself you might want to get yourself her free video guide to decision-making and facing your fears. You can also follow Sophie on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.