By Olly Halton
What would I do differently if I had another chance? I ask myself that most days, stood in front of the mirror, brushing my teeth. If a ‘Do-over’ button randomly appeared, would I press it? In all honesty, I don’t know. There are a great many things that I’m glad went the way they did in the end, and yet, simultaneously, there are many I would change in the time it takes to slam a door. So, here I give you three pieces of advice that I have learnt with older eyes that might just help you.
1. Find your crowd
Before university, I had less close friends than fingers. I used to stare with envy at every popular boy, jealous of the fact that I didn’t fit their puzzle: I wasn’t into sports, cars, chart music, sneaking drinks at parties or getting the girl. At school, I often found myself mingling between groups, most of which wouldn’t have noticed if I had wandered into the woods and never returned.
I’m not saying that I regret my hobbies and interests or telling you the best bet is to be a popular sheep without a crumb of individuality. Actually, quite the opposite. As clichéd as it might sound, self-love is the key. Don’t look down on yourself because you’re the friend who has to walk behind the main group because there isn’t enough space on the path, or the one who people don’t realise they haven’t spoken to in a while. Eventually, you’ll find your own crowd like I did at university. And the people you were envious of – most of them have gone their separate ways and welcome you to their cafés, without a single shard of recognition: “would you like sugar in your coffee, sir?”
2. Love the skin you’re in
The second piece of advice, along the same lines, is to not look down on yourself because of your appearance.
Before the age of thirteen, I liked the way I looked. I could go outside in a bin-bag and still stare into a puddle like Narcissus. After puberty, that changed. I began to notice the acne that scribbled itself across my cheeks and left craters on my skin like the surface of the moon. It damaged my self-confidence to the point where I would be too scared to post pictures of myself online or confess my interests in crushes. I was even afraid even to look at my smooth-faced cohort with a sense that we were equals, but instead felt that I was a rugged Gollum at their feet.
The days in the mirror plastering my skin with spot cream only to look the next day and feel as if nothing had changed is something I’ve not fully shaken, but I’m getting better. My sister helped me to develop my fashion beyond t-shirts, hoodies and jeans, to the point where I now get given compliments and have interest of where my clothes was acquired.
My parents bought me a pack of Clinique washing gear that has changed my life. Sure, I still call people on Facetime, complaining of being the ugly duckling, but it’s to a far lesser degree. So, I suppose, writing this is not only a wish for others to be more confident in their appearance, but perhaps one day I will listen to my own gospel.
3. Be unapologetically you
Overall, you only have one life. So you should live that life unapologetically, and just be you. Have the courage each day to love yourself a little bit more.
If you would like help on thinking positively and taking steps towards self-love, why not book a session with one of TLCP’s counsellors here.