Annie Coloe
June 10, 2015 10:00 am

For the past five years of my life, I’ve been attending an all-girls school where green stripy blazers and Doc Martens are mandatory. And in that time I’ve learned several important life lessons that have helped me survive life in an all-female environment and, more importantly, just life in general. To be honest, I’d describe my time at an all-girls school as utterly wild. But for those of you who can’t go to an all-girls school, I’ve decided to share some of the wise lessons I learned there with you. 

  1. Nobody cares about what you’re wearing because they’re too busy worrying about what they’re wearing.

This lesson I learned from my friend in the year above me. Now this girl, I want to be her. She is my Woman Crush Wednesday because she is the coolest person I know. She wears Doc Martens with skinny jeans and talks to me about politics because she thinks I’m smart enough to understand it (when, really, half the time I go home and Google what she says afterwards). She oozes confidence and has that wittiness and friendliness that just make you want to be friends with her. She’s awesome.

So one day, on the bus, I was having a minor meltdown due to exam stress and the fact we were no longer allowed to wear uniform to school which meant that I would have to pick an outfit to wear every day. The thought literally made me cry. All of my clothes were unflattering and I had no idea what to do because I was too busy going into revision hibernation to go and sort it out. But then, like some sort of guardian angel, she told me the best piece of advice that I have heard in my entire life: “Nobody cares about what you’re wearing — they’re too busy thinking that they look awful themselves to think badly of you.”

And it suddenly clicked in my mind how true her words were. Whenever I saw friends I never cared about what they were wearing because I was too busy worrying over the fact that they were probably judging me (when in fact we were both just worrying about nothing). And it was an epiphany that changed my entire outlook on life because it’s true. Nobody cares about what you’re wearing. And the people that do mind? Well, they don’t matter anyway.

  1. Gossiping about people is pointless.

This is a lesson I have learned during my five years of being in an all-female environment: Rumors and gossip can destroy a reputation within a matter of hours. So, who cares if a girl slept with someone she just met? It doesn’t concern you, so why do you feel entitled to spread along rumors that, deep down, you know aren’t true. It doesn’t achieve anything and it doesn’t make you better than that person; it’s just cruel. And, okay maybe I am sounding like that crazy girl in Mean Girls hoping that we could make a cake with rainbows and smiles, but in all honesty, is that such a bad idea? I mean, why should we spend time tearing each other down when we could be learning from each other about how to be better people and develop new talents and building and pushing each other into stronger, better versions of ourselves? Call me crazy but that’s the kind of world I want to live in.

  1. You can never be too complimentary.

If you see a girl wearing a top you really like or her hair looks nice, tell her. Because I can guarantee it will make her day. Complimenting people takes literally 5 seconds an can change their attitude instantaneously. For example, I was having a day where everything went wrong: I overslept, I missed breakfast, my bus was late (making me late), I had forgotten nearly all of my homework and I was on the verge of tears after someone had bumped into me, causing me to drop all my stuff. And as a girl who I had never really spoken to before helped me pick up my stuff she told me she loved my top, and I suddenly felt a little bit better. She barely knew me and owed me nothing, yet she said she liked something about me — and I knew she meant it because when you compliment someone, you gain nothing from it except the satisfaction of making someone’s day a little bit better. So, if you like someone’s hair, tell them. If you like their shoes, tell them. If you like their bag, just tell them. You never know how much it might help make their day.

  1. Becoming overprotective of your friends is normal. 

After spending five consecutive years with these girls at my school, I started to see them as my family, as my responsibility. A year or so ago, a new girl joined our school, and she’s honestly the nicest person I have ever met. Within her first hour of her joining our school, we overheard some girl make a snide comment about how she hadn’t dyed her roots, and even though we’d only just met this new girl, we all knew that she needed protecting.

Girls, as they become more mature, stick up for each other more often then they tear each other down. Over the years, you learn how to tell people to back off, you learn who the quiet ones are who need to be invited to sit with you at lunch so they don’t sit by themselves and try not to cry, you start caring for the people around you with such a ferocity that it becomes hard to not view them as your responsibility. You honestly do become one big slightly dysfunctional family.

  1. You can never try too hard

This one seems obvious, but it’s the truth. In my first year of school, I got called the teacher’s pet in roughly 80% of my classes and I’m ashamed to admit that it meant I stopped trying for the next few years. And as my grades dropped and my teachers kept asking why I stopped participating, I realized something: Why should I care about whether I’m called a teacher’s pet? At the time, I also believed that I was in the academic shadow of my older sibling; they always did better than I did, and I started to get really bitter about it. But then I realized that I could be up there with them too if I started trying harder. Up until this point I was quite happy just coasting through life — but not anymore.

So, in my final year of school, I started trying harder than I had ever tried before. I upped my grades by at least 2 letters, I understood more in class, and yes I was a little more exhausted, but I felt better. And as we all grew up, the girls who had given me grief about being a teacher’s pet were suddenly coming to me and asking for help and it soon became clear to me that as we grew up our immaturity went away. I should have been trying my hardes the entire time, and I definitely shouldn’t have let some girls ranting or bitterness dictate how hard I tried in school.

  1. Friendship can happen in a matter of minutes or a matter of years.

I made one of my closest friends in the last few days of school. We both laugh about how we had been in the exact same classes for nearly five years and we have so much in common yet we never become friends — until the very last week. I value her as one of my closest friends now, ever since that fateful French lesson when we bonded over Pretty Little Liars and who was the cutest boy on the show (we’re both firmly on Caleb’s side here). We’re basically inseparable. I think of her in the same way I think of some of my friends of more than seven years — it doesn’t matter that our friendship is only a few weeks old.

It doesn’t matter that we’re both going to different schools come September. It doesn’t matter that we only became friends in the last few days of school because we are friends. I started talking to a really cool person and I plan to keep talking and hanging out with her because friendship isn’t measured in time, it’s measured in how good to and for each other you are.

  1. Embarrassment is a state of mind.

Anyone who knows me would back me up: I’m a klutz and an awkward human. My nickname with some is CJ, which stands for Calamity Jane. I’ve accidentally jumped out at the wrong people or shouted out the wrong answer confidently in class pretty much every other lesson, and I accidentally eluded to having read 50 Shades of Grey in the middle of a debate against some boys from Eton. Yes you heard me, Eton — where Prince Harry went. And if I weren’t able to laugh at myself I would probably being looking for a rock big enough to crawl under by now.

Over time, I’ve gotten less embarrassed about messing up, whether it’s tolerance from doing it so often or finding some inner peace we’ll never know, but embarrassment truly is a state of mind. So you tripped in front of 500 people? They’ll stop talking about it within five minutes, and if you play it off correctly you’ll maybe even earn their respect. The fear of embarrassing yourself shouldn’t hold you back from doing stuff you love or wanting to try new things — because the feeling will pass and the worst that will come from it is having a sudden cringe attack about the event five years later.

  1. Holding onto to stuff that happened years ago isn’t healthy.

According to my family, I’m the queen of stubbornness and grudges. I’m the opposite of Queen Elsa when it comes to letting stuff go. But I realized last year that it wasn’t healthy and it was stopping me from experiencing new things. I needed to get over things in my life and move on. So what if that girl was mean to me 5 years ago? We’re both different people now. Holding onto to stuff isn’t healthy; it makes you bitter and sharp and difficult to be around occasionally. As soon as you let stuff go a weight is lifted from your shoulders and it feels easier to breathe again. It opens up new opportunities because you suddenly have fewer reasons to say no when they’re offered to you.

  1. Be nice to your teachers — then they’re a lot more likely to help you out when you mess up.

When you’re nice to your teachers, they’re a lot more likely to like you — and when they like you, they want to see you do well. This may sound like some form of favoritism, and maybe it is, but over the years, the teachers who have helped me out most when I needed it were the ones who I had always been nicest to and tried hardest in the classes with. When they know that you usually try really hard and are a relatively good person, they’ll always be a lot less harsh on you when you forget your homework or a lot more understanding when you bomb on a test. It can be incredibly useful, especially as exam season approaches and they’re a lot more willing to give up their lunchtimes to help you.

  1. Chocolate always, always helps.

Note here that chocolate can be substituted for cake and or cookies. It solves everything. Well, it doesn’t really solve everything, but when you’re sad it’s a lot better to be surrounded by your friends and eating cake than to be alone in a bathroom. Always have a supply. Because, and to quote the right and honorable Remus Lupin, “Eat, you’ll feel better.”

(Image from here)

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