The upcoming year is a monumental one. I'm going to college. Legally, I'll become an adult. I'll be able to vote, and start doing things responsible adults would do. So I thought I'd look back to five years ago, back when I used lip gloss samples from Go Girl magazine and thought the world would end if I didn't have a boyfriend. These are the things I'd tell my twelve-year old self.
1. Stop worrying about your skin and that pimple that mushroomed up overnight on your face. I have bad news, pal. It gets worse -- much, much worse. That one minuscule zit on your forehead will drown into insignificance compared to the years of scarlet patches on your cheeks, and boils the size of basketballs. The sooner you stop caring about how your face looks, and letting the clearness of your skin define your self confidence and worth as a person, the easier the next few years are going to be. You will find allies in the form of concealer and tea tree oil. Also, listen to your mum about your skin, and not the Internet. Although the raw papaya and cucumber pulp mask recipe you found online which claims to clear your skin overnight may seem tempting, give the odd smelling, not so prettily packaged face pack your mum recommends a try. No one will know your skin and what's good for it better than your mum, not even the Beverly Hills dermatologist whose blog you follow obsessively. Mother knows best.
2. Its okay to not wear makeup. Right now, your friends are experimenting with sparkly eye shadow samples and lipstick shades they're definitely too young for. But that doesn't mean you need to as well. You're twelve years old. You don't need bronzer and the perfect red lipstick just yet. The girls around you are growing up too fast. Don't make the same mistakes that they're making right now. A few years down the line, you'll realize how absolutely ridiculous they looked, with fully caked (improperly applied) foundation and horribly overdrawn lips, and you'll laugh your head off about it and wonder why you ever wanted to look like that.
3. Boys don't matter as much as you think they do. Not having a boyfriend feels like an apocalyptic situation right now, and its normal to wonder if you're the only abnormal one out there who isn't sneaking around behind their parents' backs on first dates. But you aren't. And you're definitely not abnormal. You're going to meet some amazing friends pretty soon, and they won't have boyfriends either. You'll find your comfort and fulfillment in them, and realize that being single does not equal social suicide. Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill are highly inaccurate representations about what normal teenagers' dating lives are like. Don't waste your time wondering why you haven't found your Chuck Bass yet, because Blair Waldorf isn't real.
4. Don't cry about moving to a new country and having to leave behind your old life. Five years later, you'll be sitting in a bedroom much bigger than the one you have today, laughing with friends you would've never spoken to today and thanking your stars that you moved, because its the best thing that will ever happen to you. You'll drift apart from most of the friends you have now, regardless of how many times you swear on boy bands you won't listen to in a couple of months that you'll email each other every day and Skype during every spare moment you have. The friends that are supposed to stay will. As for the rest of them, wish them well and bid them goodbye. Move to your new country and new school with an open mind. Pre-decided judgements and assumptions are dangerous, so go in with none of those, or you'll learn the hard way that having biases can make you miss out on so many experiences you would've enjoyed had your mind not been so rigidly closed off to new experiences.
5. Body hair is not the end of the world. You don't have to look like an unnaturally smooth being without hair follicles to be accepted. You'll have friends who look like above-mentioned beings, but this does not mean you have to as well. Your body hair grows faster than others because of genetics, and no amount of painful hours in the shower with a razor or hair removal cream will change that. I know you feel like people are constantly looking at your not-so-hairless legs all the time, but no one cares as much as you think they do and you shouldn't have to either.
6. Don't lose the enthusiasm you have for school. Being a "nerd" isn't a bad thing. It means you care enough about your education and your parents' investment in it to actively set about creating a better life for yourself through the opportunities you're given at school. Sure, its awkward sometimes, being one of the only ones in class with their hand raised and waving at any given point of time and asking questions about every sentence that comes out of the teacher's mouth, but that's one of the great things about you. Other people might be looking bored and yawning and texting under the table, but they're not gaining anything. No amount of "cool cred" is worth sacrificing your education for.
7. Not having an iPhone is not the end of the world. You're a school going twelve-year old, not a nineteen-year-old Tumblr model. The only calls you make are to mum and your friends. You can still play candy crush and edit pictures on your trusty Samsung. Sure, it isn't as pretty and you're not going to be able to get that cute phone case from Cath Kidston, but considering your reputation of having butter fingers (spoiler alert from the future, you're still as clumsy- worse, in fact) it might be a smarter decision to not splurge on an astronomically expensive phone and be grounded for life because you dropped it.
8. There's music beyond Justin Bieber. I'm not going to break your heart by telling you what your future self thinks of him or how drastically his music changes. But I will tell you this, start listening to music beyond the stuff that plays on the radio and isn't on the Billboard and iTunes charts. There's no need to listen to bands and artists just for the sake of having the same music taste as everyone else. Listen to your not-so-mainstream music and be proud of it. Sooner or later, you'll find people who listen to the same music as you do, and you'll have this incredible connection with them, something you'd never experience when you meet another Justin Bieber fan -- who aren't very hard to find, every third teenage girl is a pretty accurate estimate.
9. Right now, you have these skewed ideas that as you grow up, all your problems will magically disappear and you'll evolve into the person you wanted to be. The ugly truth is, the world doesn't become any kinder. It gets tougher and tougher. But so do you. You'll learn to cope as it comes, and you won't be fighting your battles alone. Just keep being yourself and never lose your ability to dream.