It’s hard to really know every aspect of yourself when you’re a teenager and early twenty-year-old-person. Maybe even after that but I don’t know because I’m not older than I am (I’m so wise today wow well done Olive). YOU SEE WHERE I AM COMING FROM ANYWAY RIGHT, CAN I MOVE ON FROM THIS LITTLE HOLE I HAVE DUG MYSELF.
The point of this blog post is how hard it is to make decisions that will affect the rest of your life when you don’t really know who you are yet.
And how hard it is when you KNOW what you want to do but you haven’t the confidence to chase it.
Let me give you an example aka me *cue old movie flashback music do dloodooodlooo swirly screen things falling through time doooodlollooo*
I spent my childhood really into old-school jazz music and rock music because my parents both have good taste. That meant apart from S-Club and the Spice Girls I had no idea about the music my friends were all listening to (the same can be said for modern chart music but that is for another blog post). I felt obliged to pretend I knew what was going on in the charts because my friends talked about it so I just nodded along and was like hey yeah I totally know what you’re talking about. When it was my turn to be asked? I remember once saying I really liked the band Dyolf Knip which were this really cool obscure Scandinavian pop band but actually its just Pink Floyd backwards and I spent ages trying to work out SOMETHING I could say. Just because at that time I hadn’t got the balls to say “nah dudes your music taste is the opposite of mine….I like Charlie Parker and Glenn Miller ya get me bro”.
Time passed as it tends to do and BAM it’s secondary school. By now I had a radio show and finally I learned some modern musical things though I actually said “Up next is White Flag by Dildo” and regretted it deeply but I moved on and hopefully the children did not understand the profound error. SO music wasn’t the issue anymore, I was getting to know folky music a bit more and people were slowly realising I was a bit different aka weird to them but whatever. No, secondary school taught me that I did in fact know a lot about myself that I didn’t before. I knew I wanted to go into archaeology, though I didn’t let the school publicise that I went on Time Team because then everyone would have wanted to do archaeology and I wanted it to be my precious. I began dyeing my hair purples and reds and got my third piercings on each ear when I was 15. So I realised I liked quirky stuff and I had a tendency to go against what everyone else was doing. HOWEVER I still wore clothes that I thought I should, shopped at topshop and river island and other highstreet shops because that’s what my friends did and I didn’t know what my style was yet. And school is the time where suddenly WHAM BAM CARAVAN I had to make decisions about college and what subjects I was going to take and big future questions when I was still struggling with deciding whether I was into wearing sparkly jeans or baggy ones!?
THEN COLLEGE HIT. HOLY MOLY COLLEGE. ALL OF THE BIG DECISIONS HERE THAT SHAPE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE BUT YOU’RE STILL ONLY LIKE 16 AND EVERYTHING IS A LOT TO DEAL WITH. So much pressure!? I looked like a train wreck in my first year of college. I had no idea what my style was and yet I felt I had to look cool and make billions of friends and also choose my future. I realise a lot of this is based on what clothes I wear but to me, my personality is depicted through my clothes. It says a lot about how comfortable in myself I am as to how comfortable in my clothes I am. If I feel awful about what I am wearing, chances are it’s because I feel awful about something else in my life. If I wear a crazy outfit on a day I’m feeling good about life and I look in the mirror and even agree its a bit crazy, chances are I’ll lazily yolo it and go out anyway. If I am feeling self conscious or lack control in something or feel overwhelmed, a ridiculous outfit could tip me over the edge and I’ll hide in a ball instead. So clothes tell a lot about me. For some people it may be their hair or makeup, others it could be their car. There’s usually something materialistic that charts your mental health and physical wellbeing, its just a matter of finding what’s yours and using it as a proxy to know how you’re doing. Because sometimes its easy to overlook yourself and you actually forget you’re feeling poo.Use your proxy to sometimes check how you’re doing.
A clear example of style demonstrating how I feel is the change from my first to second year of college. Gone were the weirdly put together ensembles and born were the hippy grungy numbers that represented ME. Because I’d learned who I was by this time. I had a big bunch of friends that I could rely on, I knew my stomping ground, I knew my crew and my subjects and I was flourishing. I realised what music I liked and had the confidence to stand by it, I knew what I wanted to do in life (to an extent) and was able to muddle through on that, I knew my moral stance on subjects discussed, I knew what I liked or didn’t like in a person, I knew my limits with alcohol (ish), I knew drugs weren’t for me no matter how many drug-fuelled parties I went to, I knew more about ME. People started to copy me because they liked the attitude I had about knowing myself. Okay sure, there were still MASSIVE GAPS like not being able to say “nah I’m good thanks I don’t smoke cancer sticks because I don’t want to die” because I would say “nah I’m alright, not today” or make an excuse. I would go to parties I didn’t actually want to go to because I felt I had to in order to keep up a good appearance and keep my friends. I would exhaust myself to stay up and talk to people I because I thought I should. I would help people with their work because I was too nice about everything and hadn’t the courage to say “feck off go do it yourself mate”. SURE I knew myself WAAAAAY more than I had done at 16 but holy moly I wasn’t even half way there.
University was a big game changer. I had a really rough first and second year. I completely lost myself and can look back now and see an entirely different Olive plodding through everything. I look at pictures and see a dullness and blackness behind my eyes. I look at how I responded to conversations, interactions and relationships and how I just did what I thought everyone wanted; tried to make everyone happy. I completely forgot about myself. My style, yeah it changed and became a bit darker and I wore a lot of jewellery to try and perk myself up. I ended up wearing very similar things because I knew they worked on me and I needed some stability so bought about 100 polo necks and 30 big jumpers and 20 pairs of leggings and many funky socks and just rehashed that same combination. It’s funny how social media can help in times like this, make you feel like you’re maybe happy because that’s the image you’re trying to show everyone else so they don’t worry or so you don’t realise how unhappy you are and how you really don’t know who you are any more. All that effort to be confident and sassy and OWN IT went down the drain and I forgot fundamental aspects of myself. IT’S SO EASY TO DO boys and girls and if it happens to you, that’s okay. I’m SO glad it happened to me because I’ve come out the other side knowing who I am 100x more than if I hadn’t gone through it all. My third year of uni was the best of my life. I finally started to say YES to things, things that ended up showing me who I was. Can I juggle full time uni and a full time job on Thrones? Probably not. Did I try? YES. Did I succeed? YES. Did I have the best time working AND get a first? YES. What did that teach me? That I’m actually hard as nails and can get up at 4am every day and work in mud and come home and catch up on uni before sleeping and doing it all again. I can knuckle down sometimes and not leave all my work til the night before the deadline. I can actually wake up early and not nap twice a day. I’m stronger than I ever thought I was.
What else? I learned what I wanted from life and from people. I learned who my real friends were and who weren’t and I learned I cannot be arsed with people who will make no positive impact on my life *goodbye negative vibers, begone foul beasts*. I learned that I DESPISE CLUBS. Like I actually hate them and you know what? I don’t have to go to them just because my friends are! I can stay home and not have sticky shoes and my personal space invaded by drunken louts and they’ll still be my friends in the morning. People like you for YOU not for how much you party with them. I kept my friends and my shoes clean. I also learned that I have a very particular music sense and sense of style. My friends all decided I was the weird kooky homeless one of the group and that was totally fine by me. My friend (HEY MEGAN)’s dad recently said I looked like a wizard and I took that as a very big compliment. And yes, I did go to my graduation with hobnails on a necklace and docs on my feet because that was who I am and I no longer dress up to go out etc the way people expect me to because that’s not how I roll. I’m confident enough now in knowing myself and knowing what I do and don’t WANT to do. It’s such a refreshing feeling and makes you feel like a kickass warrior princess just by KNOWING WHO YOU ARE. It’s only taken til now for me to realise it.
And I’m only discovering it now because that’s the path I’m on. Many of you will still have no idea who you are and you’ll do stuff because you think you should but not because you want to. You’ll do stuff because everyone else does it and you’re not actually sure if you like it or not yet. That’s all sooo fine. I’m lucky to know who I am now, and even then its only like 80% if that. I don’t think we’ll any of us ever fully know ourselves. I suppose that’s what makes life fun, we’re always surprising ourselves. The point I’m making is the journey isn’t always smooth. Its more often than not really bumpy and your suspension is really bad and your bum will ache for weeks but you’ll get to smoother bits of the road and suddenly all those bruises don’t matter. They just add colour.
So go through life trying stuff and seeing what you like. Know its okay to make wrong choices and bad decisions. They’re not the end of the world and you’ll probably end up knowing your limits way better afterwards, regardless of whether its a good or bad decision. And when you do like something? Stick by your guns, be yourself and don’t let anyone try and change you.
But most importantly, never get Dildo and Dido mixed up again.
Peace and love