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Writing by Naila Karim // Photograph by Nadia Bautista // It’s OK to be 19 and still have no idea who you are. Not really a tip, but just a reminder. This one will most likely be on my list next year as well. It’s okay if you’re still figuring out who the hell you are and what you want in life–I’m still there too.


Writing by Naila Karim // Photograph by Nadia Bautista

I was up late last night watching YouTube videos of people trying candy from different countries–as you do–when I saw a video on the right-hand side called “20 tips for 20 years”. I related to a lot of things the YouTuber talked about, and then there were some I didn’t relate to at all – it got me thinking though, what If I did my own version – 19 tips for 19 years? After mind mapping a lot of things I felt I’ve learned this year, I’m here to pass down my knowledge and hope you get something out of it.

  1. Make the first move. In order to make friends, why don’t you be the one to break the ice? As my dad once told me, “if you make conversation with people, they’ll talk to you”. It’s not that I hated talking to people or they hated talking to me, it’s just that I’ve always been a pretty shy person. You know, probably because I’m afraid If I talk to someone, they won’t necessarily want to talk to me. So I’m making it clear right now, it is NOT wrong to be the one who starts a conversation – if you don’t, how are you expecting to befriend this person you’ve met? I’m not saying you’ll become BFF’s right away, but ask them some questions about themselves, their interests and dislikes; and boom you’ll at least have an inspiring conversation!
  2. Have a go at a sport! I hate to say it but I never played sports during my high school years. Now and then I’d be forced to participate during P.E lessons, but other than that, no clubs, nada. It’s a shame as well because I was quite good at basketball, I was even asked by my teacher to try out for the team – “no thanks” I said, sure that I wasn’t good enough. Instead, I wasted my time taking trips to the chip shop during lunch. During my first university year I made myself go to the university campus gym to play badminton and surprisingly I was really good at it! Now every Tuesday night after uni, my friend and I go for a two-hour session.
  3. TRAVEL! OK, there are so, so, so many places I have on my bucket list that I still haven’t been to. This entire year I relied too heavily on other people to do a backpacking trip with me around different places in Europe – biggest mistake ever. It never ends up happening and now I’m spending my summer at home, bored out of my brains! I’ve decided that instead of relying on someone to travel with, I’ll just go on my own. I’ve seen plenty of people on Instagram posting pictures of their solo-trips, having the time of their life. Also it’s probably less of a hassle because you can do what you want and not have anyone to slow you down.
  4. “Every cloud has a silver lining”. In a short amount of time, this has been my favourite quote. It simply means that anything bad that happens, will always have something good that comes out of it. For example, if you fail an exam – maybe the question you get on the retake will be easier or if you cause distress to someone else, you’ll know how to avoid that next time. You get the point. Pain is usually not permanent, and so any crappy feeling you feel right now will eventually go. As you grow, you will make mistakes that you will eventually learn from. So don’t waste your time moping around for too long, instead, think of ways you can help yourself and find that silver lining.
  5. Don’t take everything personally. As someone who is quite emotional, the best advice I can give on this topic is to NOT TAKE EVERY LITTLE THING SO PERSONALLY. If someone is comparing you to another person, or even criticising something you do… instead of hating yourself or that person, try and talk to them about it. Most of the time you’ll find that the person is actually trying to help you. For example, when I started writing, a lot of my pieces were quite poor–which is reasonable considering I was still trying to find my voice. I found it incredibly hard to take negative feedback (I still do) and I needed to hear that positive feedback but I’m working on taking all feedback that comes.
  6. READ. I cannot stress how important reading is. Read everything, read anything, even if it’s just strange online fan fiction of watt pad stories. Reading helps expand your vocabulary and most likely will help improve your grammar and word choice skills. Other than that they’re some damn good books out there!
  7. Don’t stress yourself out. Overstressing won’t help anyone! I know, I know, a lot of the times we can’t help it; but we can try. I found a lot of different things have helped me to de-stress. The first thing I do is exercise – yes I know it’s an effort, but it does help! There’s just something about exercising that distracts you from your problems! Another thing I found that helps me is talking to someone, no matter who it is; just talking about the little things to someone can make a huge difference – it’s helps left that weight off of your shoulders. So explore different techniques and find what helps you!
  8. Write, write… and write! In addition to number seven, writing can immensely help with de-stressing. Do yourself a favour and buy a journal. Like reading, you can write anything and everything that you want. Food recipes, reviews on books or movies, shopping lists… anything. Just make sure you’re writing at least twice a week. I’d highly recommended writing about the good and the bad that happened during the day. It’s quite a relaxing way of getting out your feelings out.
  9. Take pictures.  Save your memories by taking pictures. And I don’t just mean a strong selfie games–but kudos to those who have mastered that–I mean create memories of people you’ve hung out with and places you’ve been. Over the years I’ve taught myself how to take pictures of sunsets and different types of scenery when I’m out and about in central London or on holiday and I have those memories to treasure my whole life.
  10. It’s OK not to feel 100%, 24/7. Teenage years are probably the most dramatic and overwhelming times of our lives… I hope. We experience some terrible things as well as magical things, and it often leaves us feeling down in the dumps. For some reason, we try and fight through it, instead of acknowledging our feelings. It’s okay to be sad. There, I said it. It’s okay to feel like utter crap, so long as you work on healthy habits that will eventually help you feel OK again.
  11. High school sucks, but you should make the most of it. Yes, I know. High school sucks. It’s five years of people gossiping, rumours spreading and… well, just watch Netflix’s “13 reasons why” and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about. Regardless of this, what does matter is how well you do academically in school, now don’t get me wrong – academically smart does not always translate to emotional intelligence or social intelligence, but it does help towards success. Help yourself by studying hard and achieving YOUR best. Please do not compare your achievements to others because we’re all different, we all learn differently.
  12. Try and learn a new language. If there’s one thing I regret, it’s not taking French class seriously. Growing up I listened to a lot of foreign music, including French… but surprisingly, I hated French class. It pretty much got to the point where my teacher told me I would fail her class, and I really couldn’t care less. If I could do anything to go back to that time, I would study my butt off and prove her wrong. And so I’m making it my duty to start re learning French. I’d like to understand at least half of the French music that I listen to! Especially if I’m going to travel to places in Europe (France being one of them) I need to learn to say more than “Bonjour, Je m’appelle Naila”.
  13. Learn to stand up for yourself. I’m quite an emotional person, and the problem with emotional people is they’re so easy to troll. Seriously, it doesn’t take much for me to question myself or over think about something that someone said to me two months ago because it’ll still bug me. Standing up for yourself or what you believe in, is so, so important, because if you don’t – who will? At least try and help someone see what they’re mocking from your point of view. Although you may know to always be kind because everyone is fighting a battle, someone else might not see it like that.
  14. Take risks. I still struggle with every day. I’m so caught up in my comfort zone that I hesitate to take risks, even when the outcome cannot be that bad. I think taking risks is not just for teens, but something everyone needs to learn. Even if the outcome is not the best, you need to be able to grow from your experience and not let it stop you from doing what you want. Failure is a part of life, no matter who you are – you’ll experience failure at some point and that can just make you stronger.
  15. You don’t need to “Find your own style”… switch it up! I always hear people talking about having a particular style, or even more annoyingly, if I wear something I get compared to so and so’s style. The thing is, I’ve never been able to stick to just one thing, I have a varied music taste and varied wardrobe. Some days I want to be full goth wearing black on black and some days I want to be full chic and wear my nude coat and fancy blouse. Long story short, it’s fine to have a certain style, depending on what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to try new things.
  16. Watch more documentaries. There are so many documentaries I have on my list that I still want to watch. But after watching Netflix’s Blackfish I was so intrigued, I realised I wanted to continue my education by watching as many documentaries as I could.
  17. Do Charity work. A failed plan of mine this summer was finding charity work abroad, again, relying on others to make this happen. I realized that it doesn’t really matter WHERE you do charity work as you can find so many different charities right where you live.
  18. Always BE KIND. It’s really not that hard. Seriously. I’ve been able to understand people who are always so miserable they make others lives’ hell. But just like the quote says, “Always be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Everyone goes through their own crap and everyone deals with it differently. The worst thing you can do is to take out your anger on someone else. So the next time you’re about to do that, try and remember everyone is dealing with something.
  19. It’s OK to be 19 and still have no idea who you are. Not really a tip, but just a reminder. This one will most likely be on my list next year (and for who knows how long) as well. It’s okay if you’re still figuring out who the hell you are and what you want in life. I’m still there too.

Naila Karim

Naila is a nineteen year old University student whose life consists of coffee, writing and Netflix. She LOVES horror and independent indie films. She lives in London and started writing at an early age, using social issues as inspiration. She considers herself a feminist, and her role models include Emma Watson and Rowan Blanchard. Her hair is jet black but she’s never dyed it.

Nadia Bautista

Nadia Bautista a.k.a Miss Complejo is a photographer born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She portrays the female body in the most natural way, giving beauty to every part of it. Owner of an extreme softness and a strong look, “Miss Complejo” keeps a finesse that has stood out since she began to photograph 6 years ago. “I can find beauty in all kind of bodies” has been her premise, and holds it.

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