10 Things I’d Tell My 10-Year-Old Self
#10 You’re a kid. You don’t need to do things right or even care at all about doing anything right at all.
This era feels so far away. It was filled with lots of movie watching, Pokémon, and playing computer games. I also developed a strange interest in drawing out mazes from scratch on 1mm square grid paper.
At ten years old, I had moved abroad along with the family. I was just getting acquainted in the country that introduced me to flapjacks, baked beans, and jacket potatoes, among people from a different culture speaking a language I mostly heard only on television up until then.
I had gotten used to the fact that we moved houses often, sometimes nearly yearly. I didn’t know better. At that age, what option do you have but to adhere to the life your parents choose for you?
Everywhere I went, I was the new kid. When I moved abroad this was not a bad thing. The entire school had been informed of the fact that a foreign girl was joining their school. That makes you well-known all in one go. Not necessarily “popular”, but being well-known makes introducing yourself that much easier if people already know who you are, especially for a shy kid.
I wasn’t that aware of everything that was going on at home. Maybe I chose not to be. I took things as they were since I knew I couldn’t exert any influence over anything at that age anyway.
Looking back, what would I have liked ten-year-old-me to know? How could she have done better? Don’t we do the best we can in the moment itself?
- I would start by telling her to be more assertive. I tended toward people-pleasing and I was extremely sensitive to peer pressure. If the group says ‘X’, I would play along. Voicing your opinion, even and also as a child, is a good thing. It teaches you to stand up for yourself, a skill much needed in any collective environment in the real world. And practicing this skill starts at home.
- Scratch every itch. You’re young now and have all the time in the world. Curious about something? Go try it out. I was not too bad at this. During the few years I lived abroad as a child, I tried out judo, tennis, and football, only to give up on them after several weeks because these sports didn’t interest me as much as I thought they would. This you only can know by trying. To keep the search going, you need the parents’ cooperation and them to facilitate your travel from and to the sports club. You can improve this by working on the first point.
- Playing so much Gameboy is fine. You’re a ten-year-old kid. Nothing more to be said about this one. Carry that gaming and Pokémon obsession with you without shame.
- Bad-mouthing is not a pretty thing to do. As a shy kid who was craving acceptance, I would sometimes say dumb shit about others. It doesn’t flatter or make you look cool, ever.
- You don’t need to like the same things as your peers. Nail polish, girly magazines, shopping? I just wanted to play games.
- The lunch lady isn’t mad at you. You’re just failing to understand cultural differences. In the United Kingdom, it’s polite to end any sentence with a request with the word “please”. If not, you’re a rude snob. I thought, but I already ask the question kindly and politely, why add the word “please” behind it? Adding this word felt like begging. Until I learned that this is just how people phrase requests here.
- Protect your interests. Make drawings anyway. Read about art history anyway. Just don’t anticipate any nice words from people who don’t accept or understand your interests. They don’t need to. As long as you like what you’re spending your time on, no one else needs to care. Also, now is the best time to start building out a hobby. Just imagine how good you’ll become ten years from now.
- You don’t need to play as though you’re that cool. You will see. Being yourself is enough. You don’t need to be liked by everyone. Learn to like yourself more first.
- The example of a “relationship” that is being shown to you right now? Just because this is the only example you get to see does not necessarily mean that it is the right example of how relationships should be. When you get older, you will have plenty of opportunities to discover how you want this for yourself so you can attach your definition to the term “good relationship”.
- You are so young. You don’t need to do things right or even care at all about doing anything right now at all. Play, try, fail, and explore. At this age, there is nothing more.
This glorious age frees you of any responsibility besides going through school and getting good grades. If you screw anything up, your parents are liable and will (hopefully) side with you in case you get in trouble. It can go in any direction and at this point, all you should worry about is soaking up information that’s fed to you while you slowly discover what you like to do in life, now and later.