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I was a really quiet student and I say student because as a person, I wasn’t quiet. In lessons I wouldn’t speak out, I always bowed my head when I saw the teacher was looking round for someone to answer, I did not enjoy being the centre of attention in school. While others thrived on it, whether they were the star pupils with all the answers or the cocky class clowns, I was that person who would do anything to blend in.
Blending in meant people couldn’t judge, bully or hate you. Kids at school run in packs and I hated being in a crowd where I felt like I couldn’t be myself. I couldn’t be weird, put myself out there, I couldn’t be me. I just wanted to be everything beige, unexciting, unnoticeable.
But ultimately, I feared the moment when the bell went for lunch and none of my friends could be seen. It was those 5 minutes of hell, where you awkwardly looked in your bag, went to the toilet, came back and still couldn’t see them. Feeling alone in a sea of people is the worst experience. Feeling like everyone’s eyes are drilling into your head, staring at you, thinking you’re strange for being by yourself.
I equally would not have judged someone for being alone, being different or themselves. It’s funny how the mind works. We are all so self obsessed, to the point where we forget to judge others and we just worry what people say about us. I wish I had been more ‘me’ at school, but I equally love the journey I went on to realise how rubbish being a teenager was for me, because I was worried about showing people who I really was!
The weirdest part about the whole thing was that I didn’t realise at the time how unhappy I was. I was a good student, I loved learning. But my unhappiness was a gradual process, so gradual that it was only when I left school and started a new adventure I realised how much I hated school. At Uni, people embrace the weird and wonderful. Everyone there is eager to make friends and start a new and being yourself is appreciated, while at school everyone is a sheep.
But think about the person you most admire. No, I said admire, not the most popular person at your school. Usually it someone independent, kind and who shows the world who they really are and don’t care. The truth is, they may feel self-conscious too, they just don’t let it stop them being who they are.
Make your own decisions, be who you are, people admire this, honestly. Didn’t you just admit when reading above that the person you admired most at school was the person that was themselves no matter what? Do that too! Make decisions that suit you, not those around you. If they judge you for it, so what! Let them be sheep!
Unfortunately/fortunately for me, when I was in school the internet was not as commonplace as it is now. This can be filled with amazing things but also a place where people can be pretty nasty to one another safe in the knowledge they are behind a screen. The good thing is that there is a lot more support online to help you throughout your teenage years, whether it’s dealing with a mental health issue or just battling through the day to day of being a teenager. Use the links below to look for more information about anything with national and local support and advice