27 In Lifestyle

What Advice Would You Give Your Teenage Self?

What Advice Would You Give Your Teenage Self?

I was a pretty clueless teenager. I also had a hopeless sense of style (okay, NO sense of style).

With no idea how to dress or style my hair, I had from acne on my face and back (on top of my freckles) and absolutely no self-confidence.

As teenagers do, I worried way too much about friends and boys, was a sucker to peer pressure, and – as a typical redhead – blushed at the drop of a hat.

Classified a ‘square’, I loved books but deep down was a bogan at heart with a hankering for the ‘bad boy’, flannelette shirts and rock music.

I was also a good girl tempted by the other side of the tracks, just way too frightened to do anything about it (aside from getting drunk). I also loved surf shirts, secretly wanted to be a goth, surf, popular girl…

Man was I confused. But aren’t all teenagers!

If I could go back in time (if only!) I’d tell my teenage self…

There is PLENTY of time for boys!

Seriously! And the right kind of boy at that! As to the type of boy you liked, well, believe it or not you will grow out of the lust for the long-haired, greasy, wanna-be rock-god types who walk with a whole lot of attitude and treat women like shit. Stick to fantasising about Axl Rose and Sebastian Bach. They won’t break your hearts and leave you feeling all used and confused.

You ARE NOT fat!

Geez, you were never fat … not that there’s anything wrong with meat on your bones. Seriously – someone needed to feed you a burger girlfriend! So eat those school lunches you ditched in the bin. Starvation never got anyone far – and it will prevent the embarrassment of multiple fainting attacks. Just saying.

You are not ugly!

I know you hate on yourself. You think you are imperfect. You think you are the ugliest person in the world. Your legs, nose, hair, freckles, pimples, pale skin, knobbly knees, wobbly thighs, large hands, pointy elbows…

Well, let me reframe this for you.

You are beautiful. You have a vibrant mane, strong legs, a elizabethan nose, a face scattered with sunrises, ivory skin, pianist hands and slender arms. You are gorgeous AND you need to believe that!

Getting your period is not the end of the world…

Even though at times you will feel like an alien is about to explode out of your belly or like you want to kill someone… getting your period is certainly not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean you are dying. If only you had the internet…


Getting your period is not the end of the world.


Don’t listen to Miss Smith, the school PE teacher, who tells you that you aren’t smart enough.

Ugh if only you knew how much potential you had!? I really could bitch slap Miss Smith. Talk about crushing your self-esteem!

There are so many different options available to you. You so could have been a lawyer, journalist, park ranger, or anything else you had set your mind to. Regardless, you didn’t really want to be a lawyer anyway – follow your heart and write!

Rock your red hair, girlfriend!

Your red hair is your stand out feature.

Firstly, use a hair dryer on your uncontrollable fringe. A good blow dry will definitely help the unruly cowlick though!

[How did I not know the benefit of a good blow dry?]

Oh and DO NOT get your fringe permed!!! This will lead to at least 10 years of distrust for hair dressers and a whole lot of added personal stress over your bloody fringe! Consolation being a lot of other girls have big fringes too… it was the 80’s after all 🙂


Me with 80's hair


Also, you need to realise that the incessant teasing actually means that people envy your red hair! The amount of times people say to me these days ‘..I would love your hair’ , well…That is why a lot of your best friends dye their hair a shade of red (because they can’t get the real colour!)

Oh, and then there are the boys – you will learn to recognise those boys with addiction in their eyes. Addiction to redheads, that is… They possess a few standout characteristics, such as obsessive-compulsive behaviour, compulsively dating girls with red hair, commenting continuously on your red hair and how much they love it… be cautious… they could become stalkers.

Stay true to yourself, sweetheart

You don’t need drugs or alcohol, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to be a plaything to boys. And you definitely don’t need to join in on the bitch-fests against others. But you are just a teenager after all. Shit happens, girls are bitchy, and teenagers suffer from raging hormones. Please just learn to say no and to treat your body with the respect it deserves, as should others.

You have something called depression

Depression. It ain’t nice, it runs in your family, and you will recover but have a few relapses. It’s not nice. It actually sucks. What you need to do is learn to look after yourself and drink less booze. Oh, and many people won’t understand it, not until around they year 2016 that is, but know that a lot of people suffer. You are not alone.

You also suffer from these things called panic attacks. These aren’t really talked about a lot – but they will be in the future and you will find people who understand you.

Oh, and no, you’re not crazy. You’re not a freak. You are emotional for a reason. You’ve also been through a hell of a lot so you need to give yourself some credit.

Please know that it will pass. In the meantime go see a doctor and talk to a professional.

Never deny where you came from

Growing up in the environment you did – a rough mining town and a farm – teaching you not to be so judgemental (eventually). It also teaches you not to judge people by appearances and to care for every living thing – ants even. It’s okay – you have a heart. But, most of all, it teaches you to be grateful for what you have, which might not be much, but that is more than enough.


little girl on a motorbike

Once upon a time I was a rebel without a cause

Have a bloody hug

I’d grab teenage me and give her one hell of a bear hug. I’d also squeeze her tight and tell her that everything will be okay. I know that’s what she wanted.

Finally, if I could go back in time, the advice I would give to myself would be to be nicer to my family.

Your family really aren’t that bad, after all. You’ve been through some shitty stuff, and your parents divorced (for many reasons!). You will get over it and it all made you stronger. Plus, your parents were better off apart – you know this. You told them so!

Okay, so spend more time with your Nan, especially in the later years. Life, work, booze, friends, men. They can all wait. Your Nan, well, she won’t live forever and you will regret making an endless stream of excuses not to visit or call her. And seriously, stop picking on your brother because no matter how bloody annoying he is, he really is awesome and you will regret straining that relationship most of all. He loves you, even if he is a shit head at times! Boys will be boys!

What about you. What advice would you give your teenage self if you could go back in time?


Like this post? Then you might like these:

How have you changed from who you were 5 years ago?

Growing old doesn’t have to make you bitter


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  • Kat
    January 29, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    “You deserve to be happy. Reach for it with all your gusto. Everyone’s life is uncertain and full of mistakes. Many say mean, hurtful, stupid things because people are so caught up in their own uncertainties that they don’t see others or value their own selves. Be aware of yourself, and appreciate how you care and what you strive to achieve!!! Look and listen with intent; whether we make mistakes, reach goals or are observing the journey, all awareness feeds growth. A steady stream of awareness will break away shame and uncertainty in the same way roots eventually push through concrete.

    Happiness comes from actively creating our own lives. Be brave. Stop settling. Be persistent. Trust yourself. Trust and value others less broadly and blindly, balanced perspectives save a lot of heartache. You are not fragile. Go. Be free. You’ll know what to do, and you can.”

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    January 30, 2016 at 6:15 am

    I could have used that advice too, what was with our obsession over the long haired wanna be rock gods? Really awesome things to tell any teen, if only they listened

  • Joanne Hilliard
    February 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Oh I love this Janine- you are so good at putting feelings into words! You always were beautiful in school and even more so now, but of course back then you didn’t/couldn’t believe it. But I when the topic of redheads comes up – I always tell friends about the beautiful redhead with big hazel eyes, loooong curly eyelashes and an hourglass body I knew in high school 🙂 While others were competing to be stupider and naughtier and take the most illicit substances, we were competing to be smarter, and I’m so glad we had each other for that as it did indeed work out better for us in the end! 🙂

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Thank you my dear friend. You flatter me so and I had no idea. Im glad we had each other too and Im sorry I let smelly boys get in the way 😉

  • Jennifer Wolfe
    February 4, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Oh yes, I could have said most of those to myself, also. I would add “Use your voice” and learn to say what you think. Thanks for this lovely post.

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      Au that’s a good one!

  • sue
    February 5, 2016 at 4:44 am

    I could have written that post Janine Ripper! I felt exactly as you did growing up. Pity I didn’t realise that others felt the same way it certainly would have saved a lot of angst. I was very self-conscious growing up and got sick of hearing that I would be an ‘old maid’. Now I realise that you meet people when you least expect it and love is there for everyone if they choose to accept it. Loved your post! #FridayReflections

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      So very very true. At one stage my parents – who were divorced – thought I was gay. Not that anything is wrong with that.. but anyhow I just had to meet the right person eventually!

  • Wendy
    February 5, 2016 at 5:42 am

    Oh, the things we could teach our younger selves! Gosh, why did we all think we were fat? And just so you know, I would give a whole lot for your beautiful hair, unruly fringe and all! 🙂 I think I would tell my teenage self to embrace those freckles: “A face without freckles is like a night without stars!” 🙂

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      That is gorgeous – I am in love with that advise!

  • [email protected]
    February 5, 2016 at 8:53 am

    I can feel your teenage self because I was that struggling, striving girl too. I think we all wanted to be more than we actually were, but didn’t realize that there was so much more to our teen selves that we were never encouraged to explore. I’d give teen me a big hug too and I’d tell her that she’s great and to be true to herself and not to settle for any less than the very best!

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      I guess in a way we all go through the same thing we just don’t think about each other doing so. Imagine if we knew and believed that!

  • Debbie Rodrigues
    February 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I wish I had taught myself some patience back then.
    I have always had this urgency about life that only truly ended after turning 40. It caused me a lot of unnecessary stress.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, Janine!

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      I actually think I know what you mean!

  • Mary Sivertsen
    February 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Aren’t you just so glad that we only go through that stage once?!

    I would have told myself to not give up, that I was worth it and that I was capable of doing so much more. Like you, I would have told myself that there is plenty of time for boys later… and to focus more on being true to myself.

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      OMG yes! Sending you a big bear hug xx

  • Lux G.
    February 6, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Yes, yes, yes.
    I also wrote something similar last year. Things I Want To Tell My High School Self. What can I say, hindsight is always 20/20.

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      Haha I think its a popular blog post topic! It’s the 2nd time I’ve written about it over the years.

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  • Robyn
    February 8, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Lovely post, I want to give teenaged-you a hug too! She sounds like the kind of girl I’d have been friends with and done many of the same foolish things with. I’d tell my teenage self: don’t worry it’ll turn out better than you even hope 🙂

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      I like meeting people like you! And Im so glad it turned out better than you even hoped 🙂

  • Marie
    February 9, 2016 at 5:53 am

    Unfortunately, we share the former acne & bad hair, depression & anxiety. And Miss Smith is a bitch!

  • Vinitha
    February 9, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    If only we could g back in time and give a tight hug to our younger self! I would have said to my teenage self, “Keep doing what you are doing and keep dreaming. You will live your dream one day. You are doing great.” 🙂

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