Some of you may remember Kym as the bride with the Zelda wedding, and the one who entrusted me with her wedding dress. Safe to say she has faith in me despite my mere 17 years of age! Kym’s written a guest post today with advice to a 17 year old girl, not including ‘be careful with peoples’ wedding dresses’, but with lots of other lovely thoughts. Guest posts like these are the best – they’re valuable to me personally, not just my readership. They’ll be great to look back on 10 years from now. 🙂
Over to Kym:
So, I have been off work sick for a few weeks now and as I sit here incapacitated, it was suggested that I write a guest blog with the title ‘my advice to a 17 year old girl’. So I mused over it and did nothing. Not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because I wasn’t sure how to say it. Over the past couple of weeks, certain things have come to my attention that I would have given passing thought and ire to before but when you have nothing but time on your hands, those thoughts turn to you wanting to act.
When I was 17, I was headstrong, fighting every front, loving life, loving being alive, feeling that I could make a difference. As the years have gone by, I still feel that same 17 year old girl, full of life and fight but time has taught me to think a little more before I speak. Even if I don’t change what I think or say, changing the way I say it can make a difference. I still believe I can make a difference and I believe I do make a difference in my life as a wife, a sister, a mother, a daughter, a friend and a teacher. However, I have become somewhat jaded and disillusioned over the years about the country that I live in and those that live in it with me, to some extent making me care less about trying to make a difference and feeling more throwing a match behind me and walking off into the sunset with everything exploding behind me. However, sitting here, with little else to do except think, has spurred me on to, in the words of Frank Turner, ‘be crass enough to care’.
So you may be asking yourself… what does all that have to do with advice to a 17 year old girl? Well I am getting to that. The advice is small but far-reaching and is this… never stopping caring. Before you roll your eyes and think … ugh cliché, wait! I don’t mean caring in a soppy way or even in a revolutionary way. Mostly I am pretty much autistic when it comes to emotions and caring. I find it really hard to be sympathetic … or feel empathy. I have learned to fake it over the years and even come across as sincere to those who don’t know me very well. I have learned that it is necessary to at least pretend to care about crap that other people care about to make you look less like a sociopath and make people listen to you rather than backing away slowly.
The caring I am talking about, is caring about what is going on around you and how that affects you and others because ultimately it is that, that is going to allow you to achieve everything you want to achieve through a variety of means.
Care about the people you hang with – are they effective, what do they bring to your life? Do they bring anything good or do they bring negativity? Don’t feel obliged to keep people around who drag you down, move on, get rid, you don’t need hitchhikers sapping your energy and depleting your reserves. This applies not just to friends, but family and lovers. Surround yourself with people you care about because they bring out the best in you, because they challenge you and inspire you to be great. It is ok to have people around who may need a little fixing, but do this fixing through leading by example, make them feel inferior and that they need to step up to the mark to keep up with you. Make them inspired to fix themselves, you cannot fix them directly. As far as lovers go, never stay with someone who does not make your heart flutter, who you don’t want to spend every spare moment with. Don’t settle for someone out of habit or a sense of duty or obligation, you are doing them and yourself a disservice. You will know when you have met the one, by all means have fun finding the one, but don’t waste your time trying to fix broken relationships. If they were right, they would not be broken.
Care about the media and politics – Care enough to have an opinion but make that opinion considered. Don’t read one article, read four about the same thing and then decide what you think. Care enough to voice those opinions, even if you know they will be unpopular. People who are worth caring about will respect your views even if they are different from their own. But always be willing to listen to others, learn from them and never be too proud to change your opinion in light of new knowledge or information. Always care enough about your own integrity to say sorry … or I was wrong. It is not a weakness to be wrong, it is how we learn.
Care about who and what you advocate – boycott businesses that are unscrupulous. It doesn’t matter how, you may not care about tax dodging and that is fine, but if you care about something else such as human rights then make your own little stand. It may be that you take the view that someone in India working for £30 a month to sew your clothes is fine, at least they have a job that they wouldn’t otherwise have but if there is something, anything that you feel strongly about. Fight your own personal war with them. Write them a letter, boycott their goods. Care enough to do something!
I think I have waffled on perhaps too long. Maybe you didn’t make it to the end, so here are the spark notes. Care about things that enable you to be all you want and can be. Choose the company you keep wisely and surround yourself with a wide range of personalities and skills. But most of all, have integrity, stick by what you believe but be willing and ready to change your mind as you gain more knowledge and understanding or perspective.