Recently I’ve started thinking about the pressure put on teenagers, pressure from teachers to do well at school, pressure from parents to do well in life and the age old pressure from their peers. Last night, I was speaking to a family friend’s sons, their ages are all different at 16, 14 and 10. It was fascinating to listen to each of their problems, the 16-year-old was terrified about his GCSE results next week, the 14-year-old was nervous that he wasn’t going to make the right GCSE choices for next year and the 10-year-old just wanted to learn how to play snooker. The latter was the only one I slightly envied.
As we grow the decisions we make become more important and I’ve always wondered why at the age of 16, we are forced to start taking some of the most important exams of our lives and making the most important choices too? Weren’t we always told not to grow up too quickly? At 16 my main focus was boys, my friendships, starting going out and having a good time. These spirits dampen when you have teachers breathing down your neck explaining you will not get into sixth form and therefore will not go to university. At the time I had bigger things to worry about, I had spots, hormones, fights with my mother and I was going to the cinema with a boy on friday night, so where would I fit in my coursework?! By 17 things slightly change, the first serious heartbreak, the first time you get really drunk, the problems worsen and so do the exams. A-levels were the toughest exams I ever did and there’s no half-arsing it, it’s all or nothing. I didn’t work very hard during my a-levels and just scraped it to get into university, but sixth form was probably the best time of my life. The nerves on exam day did however finally kick it into gear for me that I needed to work really hard! If I could go back and speak to my 17-year-old self, I would say to work harder at school, the people who are so important to me that I wouldn’t remember their names and not to worry that boy who broke my heart would get his just desserts. To be honest though, I probably wouldn’t have listened.
The mistakes we make as teenagers make us who we are as they teach us valuable lessons. If I had worked harder at school, I would never have been so nervous on exam days, if I hadn’t crashed my car into a tree, I wouldn’t know the value of wearing a seatbelt and if I hadn’t thrown up in my dad’s car, I would never have learnt I can’t drink tequilla!