19861986.  The year of the Chernobyl accident and the Challenger space shuttle disaster, Reagan was President of the US and Margaret Thatcher was the UK’s PM.  Scrunchies in the hair and acid wash jeans, hair sprayed flicks and very bad perms – on both sexes. Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, that was 1986.  I was 14, in High School in the North West of England.


I stumbled upon a chat show recently which I had automatically dismissed because it is hosted by Amanda De Cadanet and is called ‘The Conversation’.  If that’s not enough to put you off then I don’t know what is.  When I flicked onto it one evening I was seduced by the calibre of her guests, all A-listers, and that alone was enough to keep me watching to find out why they were being interviewed by an ex ‘it girl’ – how little did I know of A.D-C’s A-list friendships.Conversation

I would be lying if I said I loved the show, some guests are way more interesting than others and sometimes the bare foot, crossed legged love-ins are nauseating but what I do love is the last question she asks her guests at the end of each episode, ‘ what would you tell your 14 year old self?’

It gets me every time.  What would I tell my 14 year old self? Grow out the perm, any snog at the school disco is not better than no snog at all.  You are not, nor ever will be cool (and that’s OK), so quit while you’re ahead. Hmm so much worldly 40 year old wisdom I could pass to that poor gawky 14 year old, not that she would listen because what self respecting 14 year old listens to anyone over 18?

I have seen 8 episodes of the show so have asked myself this question at least 8 times and I still don’t have an answer.  I’m loathed to admit that there might just be quite a lot of the 14 year old me still ruling inside my head.  I certainly haven’t come to any Zeitgeist of spirituality with a deeper understanding of ‘the self’ or the role of women as most of Amanda’s guests seem to have done.  Frankly when it came to Miley Cyrus expounding on the ways of the world and her advice to women I did dry heave a little.

In my opinion, Amanda’s guests have two things in common, success and confidence. So I’d like to tell my 14 year old self; you’re great, you’re smart, you’re beautiful. You’re cool, you’re funny, you’re talented.  You’re loved, you’re lucky, you’re healthy, you have choices.  Even if only half of these were true a little bit of self confidence goes a really long way.

So today’s question to you is, what would you tell your 14 year old self?



8 thoughts on “Take My Advice

  1. Ha, like you, I’d tell myself to quit trying to make my straight hair curly! But seriously, I think I’d just tell myself that life would have it’s tough times (14 was tough) but then they’d be followed by periods when everything would go really well. Life really is a rollercoaster, or at least mine has been. You just have to hang in until things get better, and they do eventually.

  2. To my 14 year old self…

    You are deeply uncool now. You will remain that way. However, all of the things that make you deeply uncool now will apparantly make you quite appealing to others later in life.

    Despite what everyone tells you, you will still love Morrissey when you are (nearly) 40. In fact, you will have seen him perform around 20 times. You will continue to buy all of his records (even the ones that are quite rubbish).

    Those cherry red Doc Martens that you so desperately want-you will buy them when you are 39 and they will be worth the wait.

    You will find your great love, but you will have to wait. You will have your heart broken many times on the way to that great love but don’t worry; that too will be worth the wait.

    The reason you feel like you’re not quite the same as the other girls is because you’re not the same. That’s ok; don’t try to be. It’s also because you’re gay. That’s ok too. Don’t try not to be.

    Oh, one final thing. Be nice to your teachers; you’ll be one yourself one day…

    1. So you got your cherry red docs then… I thought this was beautiful, apart from the bit about Morrissey but at least you held back from mentioning Madonna. By the way, I think you have always been a little bit cool – cool is obviously subjective.

  3. What would I tell my fourteen year-old-self? Be kind to other people and honor your commitments; don’t not call your best friend like you were supposed to because one of the cool kids invited you out somewhere. Read more. Respect yourself more, rather than living in the shadow of other people. Figure out what makes you happy and do more and more of it. Take synchronized swimming lessons. Work on your upper body strength and don’t stop playing sports when you finish highschool. Be proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished, don’t take to heart the hurtful things your parents say or do. Ask questions of your family members and listen to the answers they give you, especially the ones about your family history – oral history helps to explain you who you are. Take more photographs of your friends and keep them. Edit your entries for length and silliness when you sign your friends’ yearbooks. Boyfriend number one will be an asshole- you should learn to protect yourself from his anger and his comments, even if he is hot. Boyfriend number two is the best thing that ever happened to you and put off meeting him at sixteen and find him in France when you’re twenty-one. Don’t fall for reclusive alcoholics; find someone to share the joy that you’re capable of. Be happy, be satisfied, appreciate how good your life is, even if some of it is shit. Keep those cherry doc martens, you’ll still be wearing them when some of your friends are turning 40 even if you’re younger than they are. Those friends have good taste. Stay in touch the with people who matter – even if you’re half a world away, those relationships are long-standing and important. Keep shaving your head – trying to grow it out results in calamity. If you ever need any of the Morrisey back catalog, you have a good pal who will burn it to disc for you. Most importantly, save your weekly spends, and all of your paychecks and buy a cottage in the Muskokas – what you can afford now will, in twenty years, be available only to millionaires…

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