One of the oldest but greatest tricks in the book – taking an oversized second-hand shirt and turning it into a dress. I found this one in Red Cross and love the jazzy print and subtle colouring and for £4 I knew I’d figure out a way to style it. It turns out just throwing it on as a baggy dress looks casual and feels cool for this summer heat. The options are endless though and I’ll probably make the most of its versatile style by wearing it open as a beach cover-up or tying the ends up and pairing it with shorts and sandals as a comfy cropped shirt.
Vintage and charity shops are the most reliable places to find a shirt that is to your personal style (don’t forget to check the men’s section because that’s usually where the best ones are hidden), but it’s one of those flexible pieces that does flatter everyone.
The other day I received an email from ‘Future Me’ and almost deleted it as junk but opened it without a clue as to what / who it was from. It turned out to be an email I had sent as a sixteen-year-old to my future self and had obviously completely forgotten about. It was a pretty surreal experience and at times a little cringey, but some parts struck emotional chords and made me think about what I would say to teenage Lily if I had the chance to send a similar email back.
Care less about your weight.
One comment that struck me was my attitude towards my weight at that time. I have struggled with body issues and am lucky to be moving forward to a comfortable and happy place currently, but thinking back 16 was around the age I was least confident and feeling most concerned with my appearance. While it’s far easier said than done, especially with the influence of social media tricking us into believing we should aim to look a certain unrealistic way, I wish I could reach out and encourage my younger self to focus on being happy in herself, rather than trying to be as skinny as possible. Yes, having a great body is a wonderful confidence booster, but I’ve come to realise that confidence is a trait that goes hand in hand with being healthy and happy and a great body is in no way confined to how much you weigh. I spent too much of my teenage years living unhealthily to try and achieve a ‘perfect’ body when I should have been having fun.
Don’t worry about what other people think.
This is definitely a perspective that comes with age, but it’s so important to be yourself and love what makes you different from everyone else and this is something that I, like pretty much every other teenager ever, really found difficult. Growing up I transitioned through an abundance of stages trying to figure out who I am and what I like; what my personal style is, what music makes me happy etc.
Clearly that’s part and parcel of adolescence, and school is a tough place to stick out like a sore thumb (which I most definitely did). I dyed my hair a lot, opted for some outrageous clothing choices and passed through several groups before finding true friendship, but I think that kind of experimentation is necessary to find what makes you you. I am a worrier, it’s just part of my nature and I still overthink a lot, but these days I care a lot less what anyone has to say about my life choices as long as I’m happy with them and I’m not scared to wear clothing that’s a little out there or express myself. At 16, though, I definitely was scared about making my own decisions without approval from others in case people judged me or made comments.
When you’re in high school, every fallout or mistake feels like the world is caving in on you and that you’ll never recover from being knocked down. I had my fair share of ‘I wish the ground would swallow me up’ moments (I still do) but I’ve learnt to move past them rather than beat myself up about it. I seemed to try so hard in the email to prove who I was and talked as if I wanted everything to stay the same forever. Even the slightest change would affect me – a friend moving on, a relationship ending, moving up a year in school. If I could I’d tell that girl to accept that it’s just life – don’t try to mess with it – and figure out how to adapt to new situations rather than clinging onto the past.
Always strive to achieve your dreams.
This one’s actually a message from 16-year-old me to current me. At the time I sent the email I was applying for universities and ambitious about my future journalism career. Now, here I am having completed that degree and about to graduate, but feeling a little lost about where to go next. Reading this unexpected letter has made me realise how far I’ve come in the last four years, and reassured me not to let the fear of job rejection stop me from applying or persevering until I achieve my goal to be a journalist. I’d like to think I’d make that girl proud if she could see who I am now.
ph. Morgan Williams.