10 things I wish I knew at fifteen

April 18, 2015

Everyone told me secondary school was going to be the best years of my life, I scoffed and thought, "if these were the best years, I'd hate to think what's gonna happen the rest of my life." But they were right - indeed, those were the best four years of my life thus far.  Just like any human being, I made mistakes. I made most of them when I was 15 and these are the mistakes I come to regret even till today. My brother just turned 15 last month and watching him grow reminded me of the mistakes my friends and I made and the lessons we learnt through the hard and painful way.


Here are the ten things I wish I knew when I was my brother's age, and these are the things I hope every secondary school student know.


1. You're not going to marry him (or her).

Now don't you roll your eyes at me. Don't tell me I'll never understand what you have went through or how much you love each other. Try telling me that in another 10 years. Things will change, people will change, feelings will change. No matter how in love or how certain you are now, nobody can guarantee that you will marry him. And chances are, you're not going to marry him. It might be a change of heart, it might be due to the distance once you've graduated but bookmark this page, for I dare say it will end and you will get heartbroken.

2. There are other guys (or girls) out there.

I'll understand if you want to stay in bed all day and sob your eyes out what that day comes, I'll understand if you feel your world crumbling down. But I hope you'll understand when I tell you that there are other guys out there that you'll meet in the future. No matter how miserable you feel when your relationship is broken, you will fall in love again, you will break hearts and get your heart broken again. There will be lots of trial and error in the future, but that's fine because that's how love's supposed to me.

3. Don't give everything you have, even to someone you love a lot right now.

Simply because forever doesn't exist, not that this age at least. There are more than one way to profess your love for someone and giving up your virginity is not the right way. There is a reason why the legal age to have sex in Singapore is 16 - because minors are too young to understand what sex is. Even if you think you know everything now, you don't.

This is a sensitive topic because of how conservative Singaporeans are but someone has to say it. I have friends who lost their virginity at as young as 13 or 14 and none of them ever said they don't regret their decision. Not even one. And that's saying a lot, isn't it? Learn from people who made mistakes instead of making your own mistakes and learning things the hard way. Looking back at 19, I can tell you that I, for one, am extremely glad that I listened and didn't rush into anything.

4. Fall in love. Fall out of love. And do that many times.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't fall in love or get into a relationship in secondary school - just be prepared for it to be over before you know it and when that happens, don't spend too much time mourning over something that's already broken. Don't let these heartbreaks stop you from experiencing one of the strongest forces in the universe - love. After all, I learnt the most when I experienced my first heartbreak and you can expect to do the same.

You're going to get your heart broken many times, and these are the times you learn what you want and what you don't want. This is how you find out who's perfect for you and who's not. These don't come naturally. You learn through falling in and out of love.

5. Put your pride down and mend friendships.

If not now, then when? When you fight in school, you feel the need to say something about it because you see each other and the situation gets tense. But after graduation? Reconciliation probably won't happen since you don't even bump to each other anymore. By the time you realise how much you cherish that friend, a couple of years have past and by then, it's too late and awkward to bring up an apology.

6. Don't push people away.

Once, twice, they may still return. But thrice? Highly unlikely. People are people, and we do get tired of trying. You can't expect them to be there hacking away your walls forever while you are building more and more of them. Open up your heart and allow the people you trust in. Don't push your friends away just because you're afraid. You will find that your secondary school friends will stay with you for life.

7. Similarly, if they walk away, let them.

You WILL miss the friendship - trust me, I've never stopped missing the friends I gave up on - but there comes a point whereby you should know to stop trying. On the other hand, I've also been the friend who could never see what others have done for me and the best thing I could honestly tell you to do is to leave.

It takes two hands to clap, two people to make a friendship/relationship work. Don't blame it on yourself because you know you've tried your best. If you have tried and they don't see your effort, they are not worth it. You are better off spending your time with someone who appreciates you.

8. Stop being so scared of everything.

Your dreams aren't big enough unless they scare you. And dreaming itself is not enough; you have to find the courage to chase your dreams. If you don't begin your journey now, then when? It's okay to be lost now but know that this is the best time for you to experiment, to find out who you really are, what you want to be, where your interests lie. What time better than now?

Don't let anyone tell you you can't or that this isn't the conventional path to take. If you don't believe in yourself, who will? All the successful people in history had people telling them they can't do it but they did it. And they are only this successful because they didn't listen. Where would we be if everyone in the world just kept doing the same thing over and over? No electricity, no smartphones, no laptops.

Stop conforming, be different.

9. The bullies won't be in your life forever.

You dread school because you can't think of a way to stand up for yourself without them bullying you even more, sometimes you even wish death upon those who make your life miserable everyday. Whatever you say or do, they'll only use it against you. So why bother? As much as you'd like to hurt them the way they did to you, be the bigger person - be kind and kill them with kindness. It's difficult but it's the best revenge; be so kind they can't use your words against you.

As someone who has been terrorised for more than half of her secondary school life in some of the worst ways imaginable, I can vouch that things will eventually get better. And even better, you'll turn out to be more successful than most of those bullies. So who has the last laugh now? ;-)


10. The popularity game is useless.

Maybe it seems like it's the biggest thing right now to have lots of friends and say hi every few seconds. Maybe this actually makes you feel wanted and loved. But four years from now, nobody's going to remember who's the girl who had the most guys after her, who's the one who knew the most seniors and which guy dated the most cute juniors. 

Once your glorious four/five years are over, that's it. People move on, nobody remembers you as Ms Popular when you return for a visit to your secondary school. You might as well focus that energy on something more constructive like discovering your interests which may actually aid you in planning for the future.

Ending this post off with the above screenshot from a clip my secondary school principal and teachers always showed my class. This was one of the things that changed my mindset and I wish to share it with you guys. Even after so many years, I still hold this clip close to my heart and live by even till today.

Don't ever let people tell you your dreams are too big. They know nothing. They don't determine how you live your life, they have no control over your decisions, they have no idea what's it like to be you. Live your life the way you want to and give yourself a chance to experience and learn.

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  1. Indeed! "those were the best days of my life" as sung by Bryan Adams in "Summer of 69"