by Lauren Smith
I can’t believe it's nearly 12 years since I walked through the doors of Tonypandy Community College (now Ysgol Nantgwyn) for my first day in secondary school! I remember being filled with so many different thoughts, feelings and emotions. “Will I fit in?”, “Will people like me?”, “Will I get bullied?”, “What will my teachers be like?”, “Will I make new friends?”. I can honestly remember it as if it were yesterday! I was all prepped from head-to-toe, had my animal print rucksack fully packed with my new stationery, and my freshly ironed uniform! It felt good!!
I was definitely better prepared physically than I was mentally or emotionally though. I was always someone that overthought everything, worrying about every little thing that came up, and the move up to the Comp was just like everything else only bigger, the feelings and worry just magnified! I constantly worried if people liked me; if I was pretty enough; if I'd pass my tests and exams; if people were gossiping about me; if I was making the right decisions in order to fit in… Honestly, the list was
Looking back, I can see how all of that fear, worrying and overthinking, which was mostly focused on
what other people’s views and opinions were of me, it made me make so many wrong decisions and bad choices throughout my school life. Lots of those decisions and choices, which I hoped would make things better, actually made things worse, and I started to think about myself in a negative light.
Ultimately, those thoughts and feelings were there because I spent TOO MUCH time thinking about other people’s opinions of me, instead of just being ME!! I know that lots of you will have faced or will be facing, some of the same thoughts and
feelings I did.
But I just want you to know that the most important opinion you’ll ever have, is the one you hold of
Oh how I wish the 23 year old Lauren could go back in time, and tell that to the teenage me!!
Unfortunately, I can’t do that because I’ve already had my teenage years and none of us can turn the
clock back! But on the positive side, I do get to share a little of my story with YOU so that I can encourage YOU to be bold, to be confident, to be strong, to be positive… to be YOU! Don’t wait until you are 23 before you realise you let too many insecurities shape how you saw yourself. Don’t let the negativity of others change how you see yourself. Don’t let people put lids on your potential.
So many things in this world are shaping us to think and act a certain way. Instagram makes us think that if you want to be pretty you’ve got to look a certain way, have your hair done a certain way, be a certain height, have a certain size waist, and honestly, none of that stuff is true... because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Now, if you’re reading this today and you’ve had some of these thoughts and feelings, I want to tell you to not put too much pressure on yourself, to be what you think other’s want you to be.
Keep this Dr.Seuss quote close to you, “those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind.”
The people who truly matter will love and accept you regardless. They will be the family members and friends who love you for who you are, for you. They won’t make you feel like you have to change who you are in order to be accepted. They won’t judge you. They will forgive you when you make mistakes. They won’t make you feel like you’re not pretty enough.
And they will love, support and encourage you through all of the challenges that life throws your way.
Of course, it won’t always be easy, but learn to love yourself, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you.
Be strong, be bold, and most important of all... be YOU!