There are some things Charley Wicks wishes she could have told ’11-year-old me’, before bullies, weddings and crisis’ of self confidence happened.

I’m 11 years old. I’ve just passed my 11+ exams and discovered I’m one of the lucky girls off to the town’s high school in September. It’s a pretty pivotal point in any young girl’s life – on the brink of womanhood, desperate to find their place in the world, and completely unaware of the decisions that face them.

I reckon I could have done with a bit of advice from my future-self back then. A ball of anxiety and social awkwardness, it took several painful lessons to get where I am today. So, here are 11 things I’d tell nervous little 11-year-old me about what’s to come.

11-year-old me

1. It’s okay to be ‘quiet’

You’re an introvert, but you don’t know it yet. You think you’re just really shy and nervous about everything. You’re different to the louder people in your form group, and that’s okay. You don’t need to shout to be heard, and neither do you have to make a scene to be respected. People will use your quietness against you for a long time, but all you need to do is carry on being you.

2. Your voice matters

You might be quiet, but your voice is important. It’s how how use it that matters. Speak up when your friends get bullied, stand up for those who others deem ‘weird’ or ‘freaks’, and spend more time helping people who need it.

3. He’s going to turn up, so forget about the others

Most of the guys you date up until you’re 19 will turn out to be massive disappointments – honestly! They seem really cool and cute right now, but they are so not worth your time and tears. You’re literally better off reading. ‘The’ guy is going to show up at a really awkward time but trust me – you’ll know when he’s arrived.

11-year-old me

Photo by Lisa Jane Photography

4. Some friends will turn out to not be your friends

This one’s going to hit you hard, sorry love. Girls are mean, and it doesn’t necessarily get easier when you’re older. A friend is going to turn into your bully, and teachers are going to make the problem so much worse. Then when you’re way into your twenties, another will show their true colours. But stand your ground, keep telling the truth, and it will all turn out the way it’s supposed to be.

People will use your quietness against you for a long time, but all you need to do is carry on being you.

5. Write more, and don’t be afraid to put it out there

You love writing and you’re about to spend the next seven years in love with English lessons! Keep writing, keep reading and keep putting your stuff out there. Oh, and when ‘blogging’ becomes a thing, spend a bit more time publishing your writing and less time trying to get into pubs (Apple Sourz are gross anyway).

6. Ignore everyone when they say you won’t survive as a writer – you will

By this time, you probably realise there are a lot of dickheads in the world. Some of them will tell you that there’s ‘no money in writing’ or that being a writer isn’t ‘a viable career’. When they say this to you, laugh in their face. They’ll hate it.

7. Don’t use that hair dye. Really, don’t

I know you’re really into your new, alternative identity, but please please don’t use that shitty hair dye. It won’t work the way you think it will. It’ll come out a yellowy orange and people at school will call you Ketchup Head for a week or two.

11-year-old me

8. Your bully will try to add you on Facebook. Decline

Facebook? It’s basically MSN Messenger but a website. She’ll try to add you as a ‘friend’, but fortunately you can block people online these days.

What would you tell your 11-year-old self? It's okay to be different. It's okay to be you. Click to Tweet

9. You only need to impress yourself

You’re going to meet loads of new people and start finding your place in the world. It’s going to be a while until you find your ‘tribe’, but don’t try and change yourself to fit into other people’s definitions. Be you and don’t apologise for it.

10. Wear what you want to

Your friend’s boyfriend will ask you why you’re wearing that skirt and “aren’t you worried people will laugh at you?” You weren’t worried at all, until just then. But do exactly as you did – keep your head up and own that damn skirt. If you feel good wearing it, that’s all that matters.

11. Trust your gut

You’re going to spend the rest of your life discovering that it’s always right.

What piece of advice would you give your 11-year-old self?

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