There are many things I wish I could tell my younger self. At the ripe old age of 20 (I know, not very old, but I like to over exaggerate, doesn't everyone who's just had their adolescence snatched from them?) I've realised that I fell into many a trap that people my age did: obsessing with crushes to the point of scaring them away, keeping people around because I didn't want to be alone despite them being one of the reasons I felt undesirable as a friend, wanting to change every inch of my body to suit the ideal forced on young girls by the media and magazine culture... you know, pretty standard stuff.
One of the saddest things I've noticed, though, has to be my urge to force life past me. I've spent these 20 years waiting for the "next biggest and best change to happen in my life." Everyone has their end games in life, whether that's having a big white wedding and settling down to live in a cute country house with 3 or 4 children and a happy ending, or getting that job promotion and never feeling like you hate working for the rest of your life, we all have our goals and dreams. Mine? Well, mine would be to be an actress, not necessarily a well-known one, but making enough to call it a full time job and buy a nice place to live in, have family and friends whom I love and receive equal love from in return, and to settle down with someone who loves me for me (I'm a bit of a hopeless romantic, at the end of the day).
The thing is, it's OK to have these goals. In fact, I'd urge you to form your own. Create a bucket list. Think of what it is you want to achieve with your one short life. It's nice to add some kind of meaning to it. But if, like me, you're sat thinking "this part of my life sucks/isn't anything like my end goal; I would like to get to the end of this section of my life, and pronto, please" then you're not really living life, are you?
In primary school, I didn't really care about much. I was a happy, healthy kid who loved Take That and Ant and Dec and I was a girl who didn't mind that the bullies picked on her for her ginger hair. That's probably the last time in my life I can remember me living my life in its own time.
Secondary school brought more bullies and more work... lots of work... I spent those 5 years praying my GCSEs came sooner so I could leave the place I hated to go to every morning, and when they did come I prayed for the day I finished my last damn exam.
College was a lot more successful in terms of enjoying my education and the people more, but I still had many a crying fit at the expense of my poor but lovely teacher in second year because I felt like I would never get a good grade for my work. And this made me desperate to leave.
I'm in my second year of University now, and my first brought some of the hardest experiences of my life. Living with strangers who I didn't have the most pleasant of experiences with, and dealing with insomnia, extremely strict marking schemes, homesickness, and the disgusting things that come along with student culture and going to clubs toppled me completely off the pedestal of comfort and safety I'd been clinging to back home desperately and I just wanted to go back home at the end of the year. In my second year now, I find myself complaining about the workload and wishing forward to graduation or when I get to possibly do an MA, even though I love the course more than life and the opportunities I've gotten will stay with me till I die. I'm a crybaby, I've found. If something like that slightly inconveniences my sense of safety, I whine.
But the thing is, since primary school, all those experiences I've listed have been followed up with "I couldn't wait for (blank) to happen after." And I can't think of a worse mind frame to have.
If you can't enjoy your life at the moment you're living it, the thing you need to do is change what's making it hard on you rather than run from it. Because you'll miss out on so much. Like the quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off says, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it."
Even though I wished for high school to end, it helped me get into an amazing college.
Even though I had a tonne of work at college and felt overwhelmed, it led me to audition for, and gave me the confidence to do so, the acting school David Tennant and James McAvoy went to, and got me the D*D* grades I needed to get into an amazing University-—somewhere I didn't even think I'd be a few years back.
And, even though independent student living knocks the air out of your lungs sometimes, it can also be that air in your lungs 9 times out of 10. I've met friends for life, I've become way more of a professional performer, and I've gained experience and information that'll be priceless for my career.
So, the first thing I would tell my younger self is this: stop worrying about the future, and start living in your present.
And although I can't go back and change younger me's mindframe, I can start living in the present now. And I hope that if you've read this and thought "yep, that's me," you'll do this, too.