When you’re a teenage girl you’re sort of told loads of contradicting things and are somehow supposed to come out of it as a healthy functioning adult. At mosque I was told I need to get married and have children I had many arguments saying this notion wasn’t very Islamic as women aren’t seen as incubators for children in Islam, at home I was told to go to university, get a job and still somehow find time to find a ‘good Somali boy’. At school I was told to make every single life decision that would effect my future, but also treated like a child consistently and put down by some teachers for having the audacity to speak out against them – a lot of my teachers were also lovely, honestly, I can’t write that past sentence and not give a shout out to them because my school was an underfunded shit hole and they did their best.
Media taught me that I needed to be lighter, brighter, skinnier have bigger eyes, smaller lips (at the time), being smart but not too smart because boys don’t like a smart ass. I also needed to be funny, slightly clumsy, charming and not too nerdy, because nerdy girls were seen as ugly. I was encouraged to be the cool girl essentially and live my life according to some creepy old mens fantasy of how a girl should be.
I was never the pretty girl in real life, or even any object of desire, and those media messages letting me know that a girls goal is to be desired really left me in a warped state of how I looked at the world. I looked to to the opposite sex to give me validation, I tried to be a cool girl but I couldn’t do it, something inside me just smacked it out of me, which didn’t make school or college easy.
There was this game that friends would play, especially friends that had boys and girls, and it involved everyone rating each other. Whenever this happened I would honestly make every prayer out there that I wouldn’t be mentioned and thankfully I got skipped over, whether this was because they forgot to, or just saw me as too ugly to rate I’ll never really know, but at the time I was thankful. My self esteem couldn’t take more hits than it already did.
I really wished at the time there were more people out there telling us young girls that our lives didn’t need to be like this. I look at all the influencers now giving the advice I needed as a young teen and I’m happy they’re doing it, but also slightly jealous that my generation missed out on it. We needed a lot of the advice, so here’s some things I wished my younger, stupid self knew.
- Don’t find validation in boys, not only are most of them just stupid, but living like that will lead you into a toxic hole.
- Learn to love yourself, like actually love yourself for who you are. Take yourself out on dates, be happy in your own alone time, because at the end of the day whever you go, you take yourself with you.
- Stop looking for someone out there to save you from your bad mental health, that’s not how life works, you need to take the first few steps.
- Despite the last point, rely more on your friends and open up from time to time!
- If you’re friends (I say if, but there’s no if) make you feel like an outsider, get rid of them. I promise you’ll be so much happier.
- All those relationships you see in movies and YA fiction are toxic, just stop wanting what they have, because they’re abusive and gross.
- Never let a boy you like call you ugly, too dark or generally insult you – taking the hits won’t make him like you, just walk away.
- Stop being mean to people under the lies that it’s ‘honesty’, you don’t have to say every single thought that pops into your head.
- Say No, don’t always agree to meet ups, they’re cringeworthy and not worth the awkwardness.
- Adding on to that, just because you bumped into someone, it doesn’t mean they get to enter your life again – this will save you years of emotional abuse and hurt.
- Friendships can be abusive.
- Wearing makeup won’t make you more beautiful, it’s fun, but be aware when wearing it that it’s an accessory not a neccesity.
- If your gut is giving your warning signals, listen to it, your gut is rarely wrong!
- Stop trying to be pretentious, it’s not cool and you’re coming across as a dickhead. You don’t have to prove your intelligence, you’re smart!
- You is smart, you is kind, you is important!
- Find validation outside of your appearance, you’re smart, you’re funny, you’re unique and you’ll find people who love you for who you are and not for who you’re pretending to be!