Puberty Survival Guide

What advice would Dexter give his pubescent self?

Puberty can be an awkward, confusing, and difficult time. Now we’re much older and (ahem!) wiser, we can reflect on our experiences by asking what advice we’d give to our younger selves on how to sail straight on through to adulthood. Two Durham students give their advice on how they’d cope if they had their time again…

Henrietta Lane

Before I start preaching on how to tackle puberty, let me paint a brief picture of my ‘tween’ years. I was your typical cute blonde little girl. Then disaster struck. It was so bad that my mum tries to censor our photo collages, subtly deleting all evidence of my existence between the ages of 11 and 14. I covered every cliché in the book: spotty, greasy and fat, exacerbated by the fact that I was too big for children’s clothes, but the wrong shape (to put it delicately) for women’s. So, I have put together a fail-safe guide on how to tackle those cruel years:

1. STOP EATING. I am aware that puppy fat is a real thing, but you are doing yourself no favours. In the words of Miranda Hart in her book Is it Just me? “Eat less, move more”. It is that simple.

2. LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. As much as it pains me to admit it, she is occasionally right. Despite your desire for early teen rebellion, if she tells you that skirt makes you look more sugar plum than fairy, she might actually have a point. She didn’t intend to cause a lifelong complex about the size of your bum. Honestly.

3. WASH YOUR HAIR. I know it is a pain to wash it every day, but trust me, with some industrial strength greasy hair shampoo and a quick rinse; you will save yourself looking like you use bacon fat as a hair product.

4. DON’T WORRY ABOUT BOYS. They suck anyway. Well that may be a slight generalisation. What I mean is, even if you do somehow manage to attract a member of the opposite sex (highly unlikely, especially if wearing above mentioned skirt), they will probably be a rubbish kisser. Instead follow this fool-proof game plan: wait a few years, let them practice on other (less fortunate) girls and then swoop in when you have blossomed into a glorious young lady and knock their socks off.

And finally…

5. BANDANAS ARE NOT A THING. Those weird paisley triangular headkerchiefs you were into are only worn in old adverts of 50’s housewives. To quote Regina George in Mean Girls “Stop trying to make [it] happen. It is not going to happen.” Also, whilst we are on the subject, neither is neon pink eye shadow. Or white eyeliner. Maybe just let someone else do your make-up.

Niharika Sahni

I’m not going to lie, puberty was not pretty. It was particularly un-pretty when I did it, especially because, looking back, it seems I did my absolute best to be as awkward about it as possible.

Puberty is a difficult time in anyone’s life. For a girl, your boobs are starting to come in, you’re getting your first bra, you get your first period, you have to start using deodorant, your face breaks out, hair starts to grow everywhere. Life’s just not easy. To top it off, boys start to become a different kind of problem – from cooties to cuties!

In hindsight, I wonder how I made it through that without my current self’s expert advice and embarrassment. If I could send back a list in time, I’d send myself a list of advice. If anyone ever figures out how to do so, send a ten-year-old me my top ten puberty points:

10. Do not wear white while menstruating.

I feel this is a fairly obvious point, but sometimes a girl just needs to be told to avoid the horrors of that day in the sixth grade.

9. Wear your bra.

Yes, many of you are probably now laughing at how ridiculous I must have been, but it was very difficult being the only girl in class wearing a bra. Trust me, it’s much more awkward for someone to point out the jiggling than it is for someone to point out that you’re wearing a bra.

8. You have not pooped, that’s your period.

Now don’t laugh, but it doesn’t come out red the first time. The school nurse found me massively amusing. Well done past-me.

7. Chill out, it’s called a razor.

There’s no need to panic over having to wear a swimsuit because you now have hair on your armpits. Razors are the magical tools of god. Go buy one.

6. Nobody cares

Nobody needs to know about where you are in puberty, so don’t go telling people whenever something big (like getting your period) happens. Nobody cares and they’ll call you a weirdo.

5. Don’t pick at your pimples

This just causes more trouble than it’s worth. They’re more noticeable and they leave scars.

4. Don’t be weird around boys

They’re just boys. Stop giggling so much. They’re not even that funny.

3. Boys are not the most important things

Having a boyfriend may seem like the most important thing in the world, but it’s better to figure yourself out, and find your own footing first. You don’t need a guy to define you.

2. You are not fat

Your body is changing. You are bound to put on some weight as your hormones change. Also, you don’t want to look like a starved supermodel either. Curves are sexy.

1. Listen to your mother

Believe it or not, she’s a life-saver and knows a lot about what’s going on with you. Don’t be afraid to talk to her. But don’t ever tell her you’ve said this.

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