I was contacted by Legal & General asking them to take part in this campaign, and it really got me thinking.
I think when I was younger one thing I was good at was resisting peer pressure. I was never bothered by fashions or what the “cool kids” were doing, and quite liked being different. I think that served me well, and although I am not the most confident person, I am usually confident in my convictions still.
However, of course there are things I would like to have changed. I think I would have told myself two things; to experiment with cooking a bit more, and to find exercise that I enjoyed.
To explain the first piece of advice a bit, I never liked meat at all, and turned into quite a fussy eater. While doing my GCSE’s I had to write a project about a specific diet, so I chose vegetarianism and showed my mum that in fact you could be vegetarian and also still get a balanced diet (she was very worried about my iron levels, which to be fair at one point were very low and I kept going dizzy and feeling faint), so she then let me. She was really good, buying meat replacement foods and things, but I wasn’t a fan and ended up eating a pretty limited diet of mainly pasta with tomato sauce, or beans on toast. This wasn’t helped by my time at uni- I had long days (9-5 lectures, or teaching placements) and it was an hours bus ride each way, plus a cycle or walk to the bus stop. Often by the time I got home I was too tired and would just have a bit of toast, or at one point I had a phase of having rice pudding and fruit for dinner. Not good! Now I feel I eat a much more varied diet, and I am more willing to try new foods, and I am sure I am healthier too. So I would encourage my younger self to explore new foods to find a bit more balance.
Relating to the second piece of advice, I was always pretty active, but never really found anything I loved. We did lots of family walks and bike rides, and I even did a 5 mile fun run when I was about 10, with my Dad and a friend. I quite liked cycling, and cycled a lot before I learnt to drive, but I was always very nervous on the roads. When I started work I felt I had stopped being so active, so I started going swimming, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. I am not a strong swimmer, whereas the rest of my family are. I have a huge scar at the top of one of my legs from being smashed against some rocks whilst swimming in the sea in Turkey (we had been on a boat tour, and the boat anchored and you could jump off the boat into the water and swim, but then another boat came into the bay and created these huge waves- everyone else was OK but I was not strong enough to stay away from the rocks- it was very scary anyway- it put me off more). I find swimming so exhausting, plus the chlorine stings my eyes, and my hair soaks up the water and would smell for days after even if I washed it several times. I then attempted the gym, but the equipment was just so boring and I was just plodding along wishing the time away. It was much later that I decided to try to run a 5k- I kept this a secret in case I didn’t manage it, but I did, and at some point during that training plan I started to really enjoy it. Now I consider myself a runner, but to my teenage self this would have been hilarious and unbelievable. I would tell myself to believe in myself a bit more, and give it a go.
What would say to your younger self? If you are on twitter there is a hashtag #youngerself for taking part in the discussion.