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Seven things I wish I’d known when I was at school and college

Co-founder of Generation Tribe Bex Bastable shares what she would tell her teenage self.

When I was a teenager I was full of anxiety about what I’d do as a job, how I’d get there, if I’d be a failure. I constantly compared myself to others, felt like I didn’t measure up and it made me miserable.

If I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self just a few little nuggets to ease her worries, these are the things I wish I’d known back then.

Choose to work and study in a field that you love

You’re going to spend a lot of time doing it over the course of your career. And money isn’t everything. You’ll feel much more fulfilled if you do a job or start a business that makes you happy rather than chasing paper.

Things I wish I'd known when I was a teen
Things I wish I’d known when I was a teen

But that doesn’t mean you have to stay in one career your whole life

Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do. People change careers all the time. You might spend ten years working in finance, and then move to a farm for the rest of your life, who knows?!

Realise you’re not going to get on with everyone – and that’s okay

I still hate it when I think people don’t like me. The perils of a people pleaser. But what I tell myself is this: there are seven billion people in the world, you’re never gonna please all of them. Plus, I’m sure there are people that aren’t your cup of tea. That’s just life, move on.

Work hard – but know that often exam results are just a stepping stone

When you climb the next rung of the ladder, that’s the one that’s important. When you’ve got a degree no-one will care whether you got an E in French. That said, make sure you work hard – exam results aren’t everything but they can open doors.

Don’t let anyone make you feel like a failure

Never let anyone make you feel less than you are. Often it’s because of their own insecurities, remember that. And don’t judge yourself by other people’s standards.

Success means different things to different people

Not everyone wants to be a lawyer, and not everyone wants to go on a gap year to Asia. But if that’s what you want to do, do it. Define your own success and make it happen. If it makes you happy that’s what’s important. You do you.

You can do whatever you want to do

Believe that. If you set your mind to something you can do it. Anything is possible, and that is super exciting.

Read more: How I got my first job in journalism

That said, what is it you want to do? Let us know in the comments below, with any questions or worries you have. We’d love to link you up with someone who’s been there and done it, and can give you their top tips and guidance. If you’d rather let us know privately, email or drop us a DM on one of our social channels.

Bex Bastable
Bex Bastable
Bex is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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