1. You won’t be married and with child by 21.
When I was younger, 21 seemed really old. Reaaaaally old. I had a cracking 5 year plan…get my A Levels, go to uni, get a teaching position at a local secondary school, then be married and preggers before I hit the phenomenally ancient age of 22. I was sure if I didn’t make it happen then I’d be one of those lonely women who wanders round Aldi having a nice little chat to herself while smelling of foreskin that hasn’t seen soap in a week. I was also certain I’d stay in the village I grew up in because I really liked playing football in the park, you could get everything you needed in the local Co-op and there’s a man who runs around in wellies with a dog in a carrier-bag which makes for an interesting watch. My Mum, ever the left-field bohemian, would gently suggest moving away and ‘sewing my wild oats’ a bit. “Go on, go travelling…find a nice curly-haired French man who likes watching black and white films! Have babies if you want, but just bung it in a rucksack and trek through the rainforest and have adventures!” Around the time she got to ‘French man’ I was usually rolling my eyes and sliding my Nike TNs on.
As it happens, the 5 year plan bombed. I moved to London at 22 after realising a lifetime of Dover, marriage and babies could most definitely wait. I’m very much single at 24. And I work for Nuts, which is possibly the furthest away I could get from being a teacher without becoming Hitler or a paedophile or a tractor.
2. Other fashion exists besides Dover fashion.
When I made the transition from village primary school to town secondary school, I realised that I was pretty f*cked. It turned out there were 2 camps, and you had to fit in to one of them or leave the universe. You could either wear some pretty-darn-hot tracksuits (the trousers of which you would tuck into MASSIVE socks), Elizabeth Duke jewellery and slick your hair back into a bun while bringing down a little slither of hair from each side of your head at the front. Or, you could throw on a lot of black, dye your hair (preferably black again) and head down the skate park. I decided I wasn’t cut out for the tracksuit thing for numerous reasons. For starters, my mum wouldn’t let me wear ANY OF IT because she said it made me look, in her words, ‘like one of those skaffs from the estate’ and I remember crying in Bluewater shopping centre when my dad wouldn’t buy me a Nickelson t-shirt on the grounds that some poor child in India probably got beaten with a stick and lost an eye while making it. I also didn’t want to get drunk at 13, fingered at Evolution (our local underage disco) or stop watching Time Team on a Sunday evening…so I wouldn’t have fitted in. When it came to the other option, I gave that a swerve too because I thought Nickelback were a bunch of bellends (turns out I was 100% correct). Therefore, my first two teenage years were spent hiding from anyone ‘cool’ in town until I could afford to buy myself cheap tat from JD Sports.
3. The girls that you think are cool now, well…..just WAIT ’til you see what happens to THEM.
You know the ones. The girls who are REALLY mean. The ones who say you’ve got a face like a rat and who everyone likes because their Mum doesn’t make them wear Clarks shoes. I wish, wholeheartedly wish, that years ago while being shouted at along the corridor for the 527855327890th time for having a curly fringe that I would have known the majority of the super-popular girls doing it would go on to become lardy, pregnant or both. I genuinely think it pays to be nice, and that karma can come back to bite you on the cock…so it makes me and my friends feel a little bit warm in our tummies every time we see a few old comrades struggling out of the train station with a buggy, under-boob sweat and an Iceland bag. This isn’t about me being snobby…I ate a chip off a kebab-shop floor not long ago. I just think people should be nice. I’ve probably contracted AIDS now.
4. Yes, a boyfriend’s fun but it might be nice if you focused a little bit on those 6 A Levels you’re meant to be passing….
So my friends and I all got boyfriends just as we went into the sixth form, which was really handy because it meant we could use free periods to not visit Malcolm Scott the careers advisor who got caught wanking in the Sixth Form house, and go home and have sex instead. Or go to McDonalds if we couldn’t be bothered with the sex thing. As someone who once gained 5% in an art exam due to a complete lack of effort, ‘breezing’ through school work was as far removed from my life as anal sex is and homophobes…and nothing screams “YOU’RE GOING TO FLUNK YOUR A LEVELS” more, than a 17 year old wearing one of those Ann Summers sweet-thongs while rapping Jay Z’s ’99 problems’ to her boyfriend at 10pm on a Monday night. Not only that…because everyone was at it…there was a weird two-year ‘Sexlympic Games’ going on whereby each couple tried to out-do the other. “Yeah, we did anal last night”. “Yeah well, we tried this new position where she was sort of half in the wardrobe and half on the landing”. “YEAH WELL HE F*CKED ME IN THE EAR. MY ACTUAL EAR. AND GOT A FROG, LIKE…FROM THE ACTUAL GARDEN AND GOT IT TO LICK MY FLAPS A BIT.”. Despite this, I managed to scrape through OK in the end…but could I go back in time, I’d very, very much have liked to prevent myself from going to the local clinic for free condoms AGAIN and sent myself to the library. Even if it was the meeting place for every Romanian immigrant with an odour problem in Dover.
5. Lastly, and while we’re on the subject….don’t hide stuff in your wardrobe you pleb…
My mum’s brilliant. Genuinely, genuinely brilliant. Now, I can’t shut her up about sex, but when I was younger it was very much a taboo subject. I think I stayed at 8 years old in her head ’til I moved out, which was fine…I respected that and kept schtum about everything and anything I did (which in fairness, really wasn’t very much at all). The only time we’ve ever seriously fallen out was when I came home from school to find my dad looking like he’d been caught knobbing the cat and my mum very nearly on fire with a neck vein seriously close to blowing point. After looking around bewildered for a few seconds, I glanced at the dining room table, and there, my eyes fell upon my morning-after pill packet, a pair of handcuffs and a blindfold. She didn’t speak to me or my afore-mentioned boyfriend for two weeks and served me up more broccli than you can shake a nipple-tassle at until she’d got over it. The poor love.
Lastly, I’m even more confused about life and the direction I’m going in than I was at 17, but that’s because being a grown-up can be dull and it’s nice to be a little clueless. And if I do end up becoming that woman in Aldi who’s all alone…I’ll just make sure to talk to myself about really cool stuff like spaceships and turtles, and treat myself to a wash every now and again.