We all occasionally wonder how we would do things differently if we had our time back again. Sometimes, it’s wanting to wind the clock back on a job interview you mishandled, or perhaps something you said to someone. But how about changing your teenage years?
For me the rot started there. That was when I began to internalise issues and allowed myself dwell too much on my disfigurement. Would I have wanted my face to look different? Back then I would have said yes, that I wanted to look normal like other boys. But if I couldn’t have altered that then the only change would have been from within.
Everywhere I looked people stared. They looked at me and were shocked. They saw this face and girls wanted to be anywhere but near me. At least that’s what my imagination told me. And it’s true, some did give me odd looks and you knew when they whispered to their companions they were talking about you. But in truth I would have done the same. Seriously, I might have stared and possibly whispered just like them had the roles been reversed.
I only wished I had had the confidence to realise that most people aren’t like that, even teenage girls obsessed with beauty. A few would even have looked past my face to the person inside and warmed to me. But I wanted to believe the worst in people and accepted failure. I was too shy and fearful and I think others saw that and didn’t embrace it. And who could blame them?
So, if the clock could turn back what would I do differently? Well, I would have accentuated the positives about myself for starters. I may not have been as handsome as some of my friends, or quite as witty, but I had a reasonably good personality, could chat easily if given the chance, and was considerate to others.
I would also have worked on my shyness and not worried about the staring which then bothered me a lot. I would also have gone out more instead of giving into my fears and making excuses. And I would have understood that rejection, such as when a girl refused to dance with me, may not always have been about my face. I should have asked someone else. Instead I took that rejection and allowed it to erode my confidence. Big mistake.
Although I imagined back then that all girls were interested in normal looking guys, or the handsome, funny and daring ones, I now realise that wasn’t true. Some were as insecure as me. I believed I was the odd one out when in truth most teenagers struggled just like myself, although my issues were more acute. I couldn’t hide my face so that was my major problem.
And I should never have dropped my friends one by one. That was perhaps my biggest mistake of all, for in a few years I had no one. No company to go anywhere. All of which made me even more introverted.
Would those changes have made a difference? Yes they would. My life would have been less lonely and painful, for my hurt then was very deep and would fester right into my late twenties. I would have been more confident as I grew older, less concerned by rejection or failure and more willing to live life to its fullest.
However, I did none of those things. And I paid a heavy price. At least I got my second chance – and took it. So should you.