I have two baby sisters. One is just leaving her teens and is 19, one has just started her teen years at 13. Georgia and Megan. I don’t really play the big sister part very well, to be honest. I set a poor example for a long time and I rarely see my sisters. I do have advice that I’d like to impart onto them both, and you.
Nobody is worth losing your education or dreams for
I don’t think either of you are in danger of this since we’ve all covered my beautifully reckless decisions that resulted in me flunking college and theatre school but in case it hasn’t been clear enough in the past – they’re never worth it. I dropped theatre school for a boy that was happy for me to do it. 10 years on, we don’t speak and I regret my decisions. Anybody that doesn’t encourage you, or make you want to be the best you can be isn’t worth being around.
My decision to drop theatre school was my own, and I accept full blame, but him being okay with me doing it should have been a warning sign to me.
Sleep isn’t optional
This one I’ve learned the hard way so many times. Sleep is treated as something we can afford to neglect but it’s absolutely not. Sleep is integral to mental and physical wellbeing. It’s also the absolute best. I used to only get a few hours sleep before school because I’d be texting boys, listening to music or getting engrossed in books. I don’t know if either of you will remember but for a long time I had really, really bad skin and was an irritable little shit. Okay I’m still a little irritable but embracing a good sleeping pattern changed my life, and especially my mental health.
Even now, if I’m awake til the early hours and then getting up early, I feel pretty anxious and out of sorts for the day.
On a related note – cool it with the caffeine. Stay away from energy drinks. They’re so unhealthy and the crash when you come down from them is nowhere near the lift you get from them. Especially limit your caffeine intake if you’re anxiety prone. Trust me.
Painful periods aren’t normal
Sorry, I know, TMI but if your big sister can’t say it, who will?
Periods are uncomfortable, inconvenient and yeah, you can get cramps. These cramps shouldn’t be debilitating, though and shouldn’t impact your day to day life. If you’re still in pain and uncomfortable after taking painkillers, see your doctor. We all know my endometriosis experience, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but especially not you two.
If you don’t feel like the doctor is taking you seriously, call me. I’ll pep talk you through your next appointment. Don’t ignore it though – even if it turns out to be nothing but unfortunate, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Line your stomach
Georgia. I’m talking to you. Megan, don’t drink underage.
If you’re going to drink alcohol, make sure you eat beforehand. Eating definitely isn’t cheating, it just means you’ll have a better time and lessens your chances of being THAT guy who got drunk too fast and went on to vom everywhere. Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy. Just eat.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help, just asking, is such a relief I can’t even tell you. Whether it’s financial, emotional, problems with other people, work, whatever, just ask for help. You can always ask me, no matter what. You can also ask mum and if you don’t want to deal with family as well as the problem itself, there are anonymous chatlines you can call, there are even instant messenger ones but just reach out and lighten your load.
It’ll always be okay, eventually
It will. You have to let it come, but it will eventually. Always hold on to the knowledge that things will eventually turn around and you will absolutely be okay.
It’s fine to not ‘get it’
Megan, I’m sorry, I never fully got Fall Out Boy or Brand New. I like some of their songs, and I’m sure they’re great live, and I understand the appeal of them but for me, they never quite hit the spot.
I pretended they did, though, because I was insecure and felt that there must have been something wrong with me because I just wasn’t experiencing what everybody else around me seemed to.
I also didn’t, and don’t get Wes Anderson or The Coen Brothers but I pretended for a long time that I really did. I just wanted to not seem like the odd one out.
It’s fine to not experience things the way your friends do, it’s fine to not fully embrace the things your friends do. It’s fine to like a few songs but overall, not care for a band. Don’t pretend! Your tastes, your opinions, your feelings are just as valid as everybody else’s and there’s no real reason for you to conform.
Clothing sizes can vary from shop to shop
Ultimately – whatever your size, you are wonderful people and your size is wonderful. There is no right or wrong size to be.
However, if you’re like me, you can still get tripped up when a piece of clothing in your size doesn’t fit. You may have changed size or the sizing is off. The two biggest offenders for this, in my experience, are Primark and H&M. Terrible sizing. Forget the numbers and wear whatever feels comfortable.
Your problems are first world problems but that doesn’t mean that they don’t matter
Don’t tangle yourself up in a web of guilt over being upset or frustrated by your problems.
Yes, things could be worse and yes, you do have all your basic needs met and that’s wonderful but a problem is a problem. Constantly berating yourself for not being grateful enough won’t make you more grateful in the long run but it will lead to a whole lotta repression which can have a negative impact on your mental health.
“Start ignoring people who threaten your joy.
Literally, ignore them.
Don’t invite any parts of them into your space.
– Alex Elle
Life is too short, terrifying and ridiculous for you to waste time on people that don’t appreciate you and get you down.
You are both incredible, intelligent, thoughtful, insightful, witty people. You don’t owe anybody your love, your friendship, anything. If people are making you miserable, if you dread seeing them, do yourself a favour and cut them the fuck out. You’re worth more, your happiness is worth more and there are better people to give your precious time to.
Even in the darkest times when the walls are caving in and you’re not sure how you can possibly face getting out of bed the next day, remember you are loved. And get out of bed the next day. Hiding from your problems doesn’t make them go away but it does just mount up and the prospect of facing them just gets scarier and scarier.
And anyway – I’m only ever a phonecall away, so there’s no reason to suffer alone!