They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And let’s be honest, you probably like that little tingle of validation you get when your mate asks to borrow your nail varnish because they like the colour, or when they ask you to style their hair for them because they like the way you do yours. It’s a great self-esteem boost.

But what happens when they copy everything you do, all the time? Whether they’re copying your style, mimicking your mannerisms or declaring their undying love for your fave band which they’ve only just heard of, it gets tedious fast, so it’s perfectly normal to feel upset and annoyed.

In some ways, it even feels like a betrayal. Friends are supposed to admire each other’s uniqueness, not steal their self-expression. You put the time and effort into finding your own style, so when someone comes along and straight up copies you, it’s like identity theft – like they’re cheating. Grr!

So you’re pretty pissed off, but you’re not alone. Almost everyone we asked has had a copycat friend at some point, ranging from the fairly tame (“she got the same coat as me – her mum agreed to buy it because she thought I was a good influence”) to the downright bizarre (“I was a model and my friend contacted everyone I’d ever worked with and recreated all of my shoots”). One girl even told us her friend dressed up like her and tried to steal her boyfriend! “I felt like she was trying to replace me with herself,” she says. “Everyone else would just laugh it off, but I felt like I was going mad.”

But as infuriating as it is to be the copied, it’s likely that things for the copier aren’t that great either. Being a teenager is really hard and everyone is trying to figure out their place in the world, but the chances are, your copycat mate is struggling with their self-identity, insecurities and self-esteem more than most. Copying you is their way of ‘borrowing’ the self-esteem they imagine you have.

“I’m not proud to admit it, but I copied my best friend constantly when we were in school,” says Sarah. “She was so cool and confident and I felt like such a loser compared to her, so I figured that if I wore the same clothes and listened to the same music I’d be cooler, too. The fact is that it didn’t make me feel any different inside – I was kind of just clutching at straws. What’s worse is that in hindsight I can see that how I behaved made me look even lamer.”

It’s a tricky situation, then. If your mate is copying you because she’s feeling low about herself, you don’t want to make things worse by making a big deal about it, but at the same time, your identity is yours, dammit! So what should you do?

Be patient

Once you’ve noticed your friend copying you, wait it out for a week or two – your mate is probably going through a phase on the way to developing their own style and it might not last that long.

Compliment them

Give them lots of positive reinforcement about the things that make them unique. If you’ve always liked their hair or love their shoe collection, tell them! This will help them realise they’re making good choices on their own without having to copy you.

Keep a few things to yourself

We’re not saying you should clam up completely, but if you’re a bit vague about the things she’s likely to end up copying, she’ll have to look elsewhere for inspiration. For example, if she rings you to ask what you’re wearing at the weekend, just say you haven’t decided yet. If you’ve got a public playlist you’re always adding new music to, make it private for a while. This way she’ll have to try things out for herself (and complimenting her choices will help too, no need to be mean about it).

Enlist the help of a trusted friend

It might be tempting to get another friend on board for a good ol’ bitchfest, but that won’t change things in the long run – in fact, it’ll probably just make things worse for everyone involved. Instead, confide in a friend you trust and ask them, next time the copying crops up, to gently highlight it: ‘Isn’t that the same jacket as Gemma’s?’ or ‘Didn’t Sally tell that joke last week?’ Sometimes, copycat friends get a kind of tunnel vision, so a nudge from someone outside of their bubble can give them the jolt they need to change their ways.

Confront your friend

If the copying continues, you’ll have to talk to your friend, otherwise the bubbling resentment could ruin your friendship. Have a conversation in private and keep it light-hearted – they might be a little defensive at first. Try something like: “I noticed you’ve been wearing and buying a lot of the same things as me lately. Sometimes it’s okay, but the whole point of these things is to highlight your own unique style. That won’t happen if you’re getting everything that I’m getting!”

Take a break

If the copying continues even after you’ve spoken to her about it, it might be time to take a step back from the friendship. That doesn’t mean ditching her completely, but spending time around other people will help her expand her style horizons and give you the chance to cool off.

And remember…

The way you express yourself through fashion and music is important, but you’re so much more than your outfit and favourite bands – you’re completely unique without them as well! Just keep doing you. Your friend will find herself eventually.

@RachelEngland

Image: Getty

You and your friends have talked about nothing else for weeks. You’ve got everything planned, from your eyeshadow all the way down to your shoes. But there are some things you can’t plan for. Trust us, even near-perfect prom nights tend to have a few wobbly bits.

Here are some of our most embarrassing prom stories. No judgement.

“I went to my prom in what I now realise was actually a wedding dress, and my boyfriend literally hid so he wouldn’t have to dance with me.”

“I wore a gold, strapless 80s dress that was twice as wide as most doorways and crimped hair. It was 2006.”

“I got burnt AF the day before and had to have an intense emergency spray tan to blend me out in my strapless dress. I ended up deep orange just to cover everything.”

“My prom team tried for a “Hollywood Glamour” theme. This being high school, nobody cared. All except me who had just discovered Hollywood musicals and was, to say the least, a little obsessed. Most people, sensible: “I am scared of the social embarrassment of a try-hard, and will go in a suit and tie. Maybe an ill-fitting rented tux”. Me, carefree, unaware, joyous: “Imma spend all my money on being the spitting image of Don Lockwood from Broadway Melody/Singin in the Rain!” Somewhere in my loft there is a photo of me and the head of the prom committee, the only people in the whole year who stuck to the theme. It remains one of my proudest, yet most cringeworthy high school memories.”

“I almost got kicked out of my prom for taking my shoes off on the dancefloor, I tried to reason with the security guard (that always goes well) that I had enormous blisters that were preventing me from pulling my best moves before putting my shoes back on and proceeding to make out with my ex boyfriend, my ex girlfriend and another guy I had a crush on. I woke up by myself on a trampoline still in my prom dress.”

“I was donated a vintage dress from a family friend who competed in dancing competitions at Blackpool ballroom back in the day and wore it with my gladiator sandals coz I DON’T WEAR HEELS MUM.”

“What didn’t go wrong for me at my prom? For starters, my dress wouldn’t do up. A combination of the corset zip being super stiff, me being sweaty, and having bought the dress in February and eaten a lot of exam season biscuits since then, meant that while all my best friends laughed and got ready together in my bedroom, I ended up trapped in my bathroom with my mum, crying and desperately trying to get my zip up. Eventually, thank god, it did. But then I put my heel through the skirt as I got into our prom car and ripped a huge hole in the hem, which flapped about all night. Then we arrived and I discovered that not one but two other girls had my dress. Neither had a hole in theirs, of course, so at least I was still original.”

Image: Absolutely Balloony

It’s here! The best holiday of the year. Seriously, Easter is the ideal holiday, there’s none of the pressure of Christmas, none of the outfit stress of Halloween and none of the pressure of New Year’s Eve. It’s the Chris Pratt of holidays, but with delicious snacks.

Here’s everything we’ve been reading, watching and loving this week.

Could we *be* more excited?

Pretty much as soon as the final episode of Friends aired and we watched the six of them (plus a few babies) wander down to Central Perk for the last time, people were clamouring for a reunion. And now they’ve got it. Sort of. According to The Independent, there’s an off-Broadway musical coming to New York later this year called Friends! The Musical, written by Bob and Tobly McSmith who have written similar musicals for 90210 and Full House. The show will feature songs such as ‘The One Where We Make A Million Dollars An Episode,’ ‘The Only Coffee Shop in New York,’ ‘Oh. My God. It’s Janice!’. We’ll be there for you…if we can get free flights and accommodation in New York.

This idea has legs

Yoga teacher, Shea penned a love letter on her Instagram account, @shastavibes. But it’s not to a her partner or her crush, she’s written a love letter to her thighs. Turns out, poking them and wishing they miraculously become smaller is stupid and also, might lead to bruising. Instead, why not join Shea and the body positivity movement that seems to be growing more and more brilliant everyday. Kudos Shea, and kudos to your thighs too.

Dear Thighs, "I’m in love with you, every inch, every lump all the way up from my knees to my rump" You may not be slender, or tanned, or smooth, but you’re up for the challenge when I start to move you power through squats, lunges, and stairs, and you don’t seem to mind when some people glare" ..✏️📓 ____________________________________________________ This whole journey to body acceptance and self-love is kind of a roller coaster, but an exciting one that I’m gonna keep riding. Each day I am learning that my self-worth is based less on what others think and more on how I feel. And lately, I feel really good. I was realizing today that my body is becoming less of an object of comparison in my mind, and more of a tool. My body is a method of accomplishing day to day things and that’s it. So far it’s doing a damn good job. In fact, it rarely lets me down. So for that reason alone, I should be completely in love with it. So to my thighs and all my other perfectly strong and functional body parts, thank you for getting shit done. <3 #postpartumfitness #postpartumbody #thickfit #thunderthighs #plussize #thickwomen #thickyogi #melanin #blackyogasuperstars

A post shared by Shea (@shastavibes) on

We Read Too

Kaya Thomas, a university student in the State was tired of not seeing enough people of colour or women in tech in books. So, like a boss, she decided to do something about it. She’s created an app called We Read Too which features over 600 books with main characters who are people of colour or women in tech. The idea, design and coding are all her own, NBD. When you spoke to Teen Vogue about why she thinks this project is so important she explained, “It’s for those of who want young people of color to be exposed to books where they seem themselves reflected in the characters and the authors. But it’s also for people who want to be exposed to different cultures than their own…I think fiction especially helps you get a better understanding of another person’s story, and that helps you build empathy.” Aaaaaand download.

Orange is the New Black Season Five Trailer

The trailer for Season 5 of Orange is the New Black has dropped and urgh, now it’s just left us with more questions. It picks off where season four ended, with Daya pointing a gun at CO Humphrey’s head with the rest of the inmates screaming at her to shoot him. Then, because the people who make trailers are evil geniuses, the screen goes black and you hear a gunshot and everyone screams. So. Much. Intrigue. Season Five will be released on Friday June 9th, and apparently will take place “in real-time over the course of three days”. Urgh, only 56 days to wait.

Baby, put your hands up. Literally.

Look, this isn’t really news. But it’s adorable and it’s Easter and so we’re going to throw it in anyway.

Have a lovely Easter x

Hands up if you’ve ever been called bossy? UP, come on! We don’t have all day.

Sorry, that was bossy of me wasn’t it? Some might say ‘assertive’ or ‘proactive’… but I’m a girl, and so plain old ‘bossy’ is the invisible label that’s been slapped on my head ever since the first day I tried to organise my nursery school classmates into the optimum formation for a game of Dizzy Dinosaurs (not right next to the tree, yeah Debbie?).

You’ll know if you’re the bossy friend in your group (and every group has one, trust me – that’s how you’re a ‘group’ and not, like, a rabble) because you approach every party, event and outing, even your standard Saturday mooch-around-town, with the organisational fervour of a wedding planner. You empathised so strongly with Monica planning Phoebe’s wedding that you even thought about getting one of those bluetooth headsets, so you can chase up late friends while keeping your hands free to send excited gifs to everybody in your group chat. You tend to get chosen as form captain, prefect, group spokesperson, project group leader and the nominated person to sweet talk people’s parents after house parties, because they know that however much of a nightmare you might be during the process, you’ll always get the job done.

And you also, probably, get made to feel a little bit bad about it. A bit overbearing. Too bolshy. Too loud. Too… much. Right?

Wrong. I’m here today to tell you that even if people give you crap for it, being the bossy one is no bad thing. For starters, the world NEEDS bossy people. It’s how we get stuff done. Without us bossy types, nothing would ever get decided on. No trips would ever get arranged. The whole world would just be one huge, chaotic circle of laid-back people taking it in turns to shrug and say “I don’t mind, you choose!” until we all die.

And I’ll let you into a secret: bossy is just another word for taking charge. Being a leader. It’s a characteristic that’s been prized and applauded in men for centuries, making them world leaders, CEOs and multi-millionaires. Girls and women who have the same qualities, meanwhile? We’re called ‘bossy’. And that’s bulls**t. Bossy girls are the world leaders and CEOs and multi-millionaires (the nice, charitable kind) of tomorrow.

For proof, like so many things in life, we just need to to look at Beyoncé – a woman so totally and fully in charge of her own brand that she’s become an unshakeable world icon… but one who also got called bossy as a kid.

Back in 2014 Queen Bey joined other amazing ladies like Jennifer Garner, Jane Lynch, Condoleezza Rice and Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg in the #BanBossy campaign, to get people to rethink the way they used the world to describe girls. “I’m not bossy,” went their slogan. “I’m the boss.” And with Bey’s fierce, slaying brand of femininity only getting more inspirational by the year, the time that girls really realise they can run the world might be here.

There’s a good way to be bossy though, obviously. A way that listens to everyone and takes the introverts into account too – because a world where everyone is bossy would be just as bad as a world where nobody remembers to designate snack responsibilities and you always end up at a picnic with nine tubs of hummus. Just as bad.

So maybe what we need is a compromise. If us bossy girls learn to keep our traps shut every so often and recognise that not everyone necessarily cares if the official daytrip-to-Brighton hashtag gets used with the correct punctuation…. maybe everyone else could thank us for making things happen, banish the word ‘bossy’ and call us ‘assertive’ for a change. Or ‘proactive’. Or just plain bossing it.

Beyonce GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

@laurenbravo

So, no one told you life was going to be this way. You’re life’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA (which stands for Dead On Arrival, I only found that out a few years ago). Sure, you have friends who’ll be there for you blah blah, but the more important question is: which capital F Friend are you? You might think you’re part Rachel, part Joey with Chandler undertones, but what does science* say? Let’s find out!

*Our incredibly subjective made-up quiz.

Your friends would describe you as:

Your nightmare room to be stuck in is:

What’s your fave snack?

What's your worst quality?

What's your favourite subject at school?

If you won £10 million what would you do with it?

What's your dream pet?

Were Ross and Rachel on a break?

Friendships are complex, eternally changing and can be as full of feelings and drama as a romantic relationship. But there are also certain types of friends who can be just plain bad for you.

If any names come to mind when reading the below, that might just be a toxic friend worth binning…

The Drainer

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The Drainer is the friend who pops up in your messages and you think, “Ugh, what now?” They’re always full of drama and LOVE dumping it all on you, without ever asking YOU how YOU are. They chat, chat, chat, chat, and, despite barely giving you a chance to reply, manage to exhaust you within half an hour of being together.

The Ignorer

mindy-project

The Ignorer stresses every cell in your body without ever doing anything… because they hardly ever do anything. The complete opposite of The Drainer, they’re nowhere to be seen in your messages because they NEVER REPLY, and will happily leave the read receipt on. Satanists. They’re also likely to be flaky and drop out of plans last minute without much care, leaving you frustrated and feeling like you put way too much effort in.

The Jiber

Brooklyn 99 Gina

The Jiber thinks they’re really funny. Too funny. They take great pleasure in poking fun at you, which in your books goes a bit beyond banter. They’re kind of mean and especially like to poke fun at your appearance, hobbies, and likes. They’re likely a very insecure person, evidenced by them FREAKING OUT if you dare poke fun at them, but it’s no excuse to be a dick.

The Negative Nancy

april

The Negative Nancy never has anything positive to say. They’ll go against any thought or opinion you have, just to be different or put you down, and put barriers up at any opportunity. They always have excuses to not do something, will find niggles in every choice you make and every opinion you have, and will make life feel utterly miserable.

The Manipulator

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The Manipulator is difficult to spot. You’ll need David Attenborough to come along to dig out their whereabouts and narrate their behaviours. They’re often passive aggressive and will never be obviously confrontational, but they’ll put doubts in your mind so you’ll side with them over anything. You’ll be pressured into doing things without even realising, and feel really confused about your thoughts and emotions as they play around with them. They are, we would argue, one of the most unhealthy species of toxic friend out there.

The Too-Attached

annand-leslie

The Too-Attached is a hard one to deal with, because you don’t want to BE the dick. They really like you. Like, REALLY like you and want to hang out or talk ALL THE TIME. They’d sit by your feet as you did a poo if they could. They’re nice enough but a bit much, and may well guilt trip you when you say you can’t hang out. They make you feel responsible for their happiness and, the worst, send multiple texts instead of one long one. SO ANNOYING.

The Bragger

schmidt

The Bragger can usually be seen on Facebook or Instagram. They only use it to shout about their newest purchases, most recent holiday, or amazing things that have happened, because their life is so perfect. When you meet up, they just repeat what they’ve said. They’re not bothered in asking how you are, and think they’re God’s gift. Getting them a gift card for their birthday is risky.

The Gossip

serena

The Gossip goes beyond the standard little gossip you have when you get to school. They live for it. They want to know the gossip before it’s even happened, and hate people knowing gossip before them. They don’t care who it’s about or what it’s about. Anyone is fair game. This means they can’t be trusted and, in all likelihood, would happily create and spread the gossip about you.

If you think you may have some toxic friends, don’t panic! Weigh up the situation, maybe talk to a family member or friend (who’s not part of the group) for advice, and have a read of our article on how to unfriend someone IRL. It might help. And if you don’t think you have any toxic friends… maybe YOU ARE THE TOXIC FRIEND. No, just kidding. You’re lovely.

@louisejonesetc

For anyone who doesn’t know, Galentine’s Day was originally invented by Leslie Knope – mega babe Amy Poehler’s alter ego in Parks and Recreation – and now everyone’s celebrating it. Taking place on 13th Feb, the day before Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s is all about celebrating female friendships. We’re in, and we’re getting our gift on. 

Galentine's Day

Let’s be honest, V Day presents aren’t all they’re cracked up to be – who wants to chance biting into the dark chocolate and nut one in a naff selection box anyway? Plus, soz red roses, we don’t even own a vase. So instead, here are the gifts to give your mates that’ll beat any Valentine’s gift this year, each for under £20. Happy Galentine’s!

Card-carrying BFFs

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Love Ya card, $3 (£2.40), Nina Cosford

Nina Cosford’s illustrations focus on some our favourite female role models; Eleven from Stranger Things, Frida Kahlo, Jane Austen, Grace Jones. This cute little Love Ya card from the feminist artist is the best we’ve ever seen – plus your friend can turn it into a print and frame it after they’ve read your message. Two for the price of one.

Put a ring on it

hmprod

4-pack rings, £3.99, H&M

Super affordable and totally cool friendship rings available in silver, gold and rose gold. Want to treat yourself? Why not, your friendship with yourself is something that should be celebrated too! We think they’d look great linked together round a necklace chain.

Flowers to keep forever

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Peony iron-on patch, $10 (£8), Stay Home Club

Want to give your friend some flowers that’ll last longer than a couple days? These iron-on patches are perfect – they’re so easy to attach to your favourite pair of jeans, or any clothes you like really. We think they’d look the business on a bomber jacket.

Pencil in a date

skinnydip_killin_it_pencil_case_3

Killin It pencil case, £10, Skinny Dip

A homework pep talk in the form of a pencil case, for when your bestie is stressing over an essay and needs reminding that they’re totally smashing it.

Keep it golden

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Limited edition metal lip hair clip, £6, ASOS

For your friend who’s growing out their fringe for the summer. That awkward in between stage is going to be so worth it thanks to this lip clip.

There aren’t enough words

besties

Besties by Leah Reena Goren, £12.08, Amazon

Besties is a book celebrating the power of female friendships, complete with some seriously cool illustrations by author Leah Reena Goren. A really sweet gift. Shakespeare who?

Cap it off

grl-power

GRL PWR cap, £8, Monki

Galentine’s Day means 13th Feb, which means it’ll soon be spring. Finally. Get your girl gang prepped for sunshine with this GRL PWR cap from Monki – and yes, you need a group photo of everyone in theirs.

I love your mug

mug

Coffee lover mug, £12, Urban Outfitters

Tricky to sip out of, yes, but so worth the t-shirt stains. You could even use it as a mini vase and gift with some daffodils – so much prettier (and cheaper, coincidentally) than boring red roses.  

Pretty as a picture

burger-aax-prints

Beth Hoeckel mini print, $20 (£16), Society 6

Dinner date, schminner date, if we had the choice between going somewhere fancy for awkward small talk or living it up at home in our PJs munching our beans on toast with cheese, we know what we’d choose. Especially if we had this wicked dinner time mini print to gaze at.

Balmy about you

emoji-lip-blam

Emoji balm,  £2.99, Superdrug

Yes, thanks to Superdrug there are now emoji lip balms. You’ve got 8 options here, including the unicorn and heart eyes, and they’re all flavoured – the princess balm tastes like ice cream. Atta girl.

Illustration: Katie Edmunds

Everyone else seems to really enjoy socialising, don’t they? They talk about how they’re going to arrange HUGE parties. Get BIG groups of friends together. And play lots of LOUD music!

To many of you that must sound like a lot of fun. But to others, it sounds scary.

That’s because we’re all unique. Some of us (known as extroverts) feel energetic when we’re around others. Talking to new people, socialising with friends and dancing around fuels our personalities and makes us shine. But others (the introverts) are the opposite. Being around people can feel a bit overwhelming and you might find you feel more ‘yourself’ when you’re on your own.

And of course there’s a whole grey area in between. People who don’t like being around big groups, but feel really at home with a few close friends. And others who worry about parties and yet feel great about being around new people once they’re settled in. Hey, awkward people of all flavours – you’re not alone (even when you’re quite literally alone)!

Here are the stages everyone in the awkward gang has experienced…

Stage one: the invite

miss-piggy
You’ve received an invite to something! Amazing! You’re loved! People want to hang out with you! That’s awesome, right? RIGHT? Wait, why are you looking so scared?!

Getting invited to something can feel weird. You’re happy you have friends. But you’re also scared of what’s going to happen. Immediately your mind will be filled with all kinds of thoughts. Including, but not limited to, what will you wear? What if you fall over? What if no one wants to talk to you? And repeat.

The key to getting through this stage? You can’t predict the future. Honestly, you can’t. Maybe one day, but until then it’s best to label all your thinking as ‘worrying’ and therefore not real. It sounds simple, but over time you can say “hey, that’s a worry” instead of “I’m scared.”

Stage two: Getting ready

clothes
This is when all of your worries from stage one kick in. You try on 354846 outfits. You analyse what people will think of everything. And you’ll consider not going. A lot.

Stage three: Definitely, absolutely not wanting to go

dr-who
Stage two often leads to stage three: not wanting to go out. Sometimes a totally legitimate plan of action is to follow that little voice and just not go – because you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, ok?

BUT, and this is a huge BUT, proving to yourself that you can go to something and feel ok about it and maybe, just a little bit, even, kinda have fun, will be really beneficial in the long run. Even if you don’t go out the next few times.

It’s all about weighing up the pros and cons. If you feel like you can see some positives, always take that leap. But never feel bad if you opt for a quiet night in instead.

Stage four: Getting there

mean-girls
You’ve worried about what to wear, you’ve convinced yourself you’re going and now it’s usually around the time you’ll worry about how to get there. The bus? Your dad who might say something embarrassing?

If you’re nervous about going somewhere, it always makes sense to have a solid plan about how you’ll arrive. Get a friend’s mum to give you a lift, or see if your parents are available to take you and your BFF so you don’t arrive on your own.

Stage five: Feeling awkward

tina-fey
You get there and get all shy. Especially if you don’t recognise people, there are new people or people you don’t really get on with. You feel like the earth might swallow you up. That’s if you don’t feel like you might spill food everywhere first.

The best tip for getting through this stage. Stop. Breathe. Listen to people. Don’t feel pressured to be the bright, shining light of the party.

Stage six: Speaking and socialising

ay
You might worry about what you’re saying. Or feel like your arms are waving around really weirdly and maybe your top will fall down a bit. How could you possibly talk to people? How could this not be a disaster and the cause of your untimely death?

A really useful piece of advice is to play the part of someone who is confident. What would that person speak like? How would they stand? We’re not telling you to get all Shakespearean, just think about what it might be like if you were a confident person. You might just start to be that person without even acting.

Stage seven: Maybe feeling a bit more awkward again

nervous
You were just starting to feel good and now you’re worrying again. You saw someone wearing the same top and someone else didn’t want to talk to you about homework.

But feeling shy isn’t all or nothing. You don’t get shy and then feel amazing. It comes in waves. So feel proud of getting there, but if you have a blip and feel a bit funny, that’s fine too.

Stage eight: Having fun? Maybe? Possibly?

tswift

If you don’t feel like you can really have fun or chat to people, that’s fine. But often there’s a stage when you’ll feel like you’ve come out of your shell a bit, you’ve walked up to new people and scared yourself silly, you’ve found someone you know and feel a lot better… and maybe you’ve even plucked up the courage to have a dance. A DANCE.

Stage nine: Feeling exhausted and maybe a bit proud too 

naps

Whether you made 20 new friends or just spoke to two people you’re not that keen on, you went. You did it. Feel proud. And now it’s time to get home and get a good night’s sleep.

Or, ok, obsess for two hours over everything you did and said. Then sleep.

Bonus nugget of wisdom: It’s ok to feel funny around people (promise)

Remember: You’re not the only one that feels like this. It may seem like your school is full of party-loving extroverts, but there are plenty of shy types making a mark on the world too!

Sure it may seem like everyone else lives for socialising. But it’s ok to feel a bit awkward and shy around groups. It’s ok to prefer to hang out with just your BFF or even grab a good book and enjoy your own company. Because hey, sometimes a Me Party can be the best party of all.

Me Party

@BeccaCaddy

It’s almost impossible to be funny and to be cool at the same time. Achieving either can take a bit of effort, but only one is genuinely life-enhancing. Cool can come and go in a moment, but funniness only gets funnier, as well as giving you the skills and resilience required to style out any situation.

I didn’t know this when I was at school, and I longed to be friends with the girls who laughed at me and my ridiculous mates. But we were learning to laugh at ourselves, and now I realise that we were having a much better time.

This is why it’s great to surround yourself with hilarious ‘weirdos’.

1. The school disco is a thousand times more fun

Sarah Baxter, since we turned 13 I must have been to a hundred weddings, gigs and parties, but I’ve never seen moves that were anywhere near as memorable as the crab dance you busted out at the Year 8 Christmas dance with the boys’ school. At first, I felt silly and self-conscious in my jeans and t-shirt, aware of the class monitor smouldering in the shadows, looking amazing in the Topshop velvet mini that my Mum had forbidden me from buying. But the second Sarah got on the floor, knees bent, hands out, and danced to the Spice Girls like she was under the sea, I was over my skirt envy and clutching my sides while making an odd honking sound.

The rest of us had a great time when we joined in with the crab dance, even though we weren’t dancing, just rolling on the floor laughing. It was the first genuine ROFL I’d ever experienced.

2. Your most embarrassing moments become your best material

It’s easy to treat school as a dangerous, potentially humiliating battle ground where you risk looking foolish every day. It’s harder – but definitely happier and better – to think “I am definitely going to do something stupid, shameful and embarrassing. Cringing never killed anyone, so I just need to think of it all as comic material.”

Like the time I turned up to Chemistry and realised that the lab coat I’d picked up from Lost Property was, in fact, a tablecloth. I thought about hiding in the toilets until the next lesson bell went, but instead I flung it around my shoulders like a cloak. My mates were mildly hysterical – and I had the first and last laugh.

3. Instead of flicking your hair in front of boys, you can get them to fall about laughing

For a long time, I thought that if you fancied someone, the best way to get their attention involved having big boobs, wearing lots of make up, and ignoring them, occasionally sneering and saying something sarcastic. That was until my friend Millie had a birthday party that was packed with boys, and they all seemed to be in love with her. How did she do it? How did she find the boys? Fit Josh explained while the class monitor stared at him with her mouth open. “Millie is the funniest person I have ever met! And she’s always talking about how hilarious her mates are! There’s no way I could miss this!”

4. You never need to worry about being caught out

As a grown up, I’ve met girls who were “cool” at school. Even though I envied them at the time, they’ve said that it was once of the most stressful experiences of their lives, much harder than sitting exams, going to university and enduring job interviews.

One anonymous friend told me “We all had to have the same haircuts – short and blonde on the top, long and dark on the bottom. I genuinely thought that if any of my friends caught me with a ladder in my tights, my life would be over. I don’t remember ever relaxing. I was secretly jealous of the girls who just seemed to mess about, the ones who didn’t care about being perfect.” Whereas I was so relaxed in my LOLlish nerdiness that I once kicked a pair of knickers out of my jeans on non-uniform day and said, without missing a beat, “they’re for when I wet myself laughing”. Boom.

5. Every day feels like you’re starring in a sitcom

Most of the great comedy writers work in teams, and say that nothing makes you more creative than collaboration. Well, when you’ve got pals who are always prepared to see the funny side, and you’re always one-upping each other’s one liners, you reach a point where you all feel funnier than the imaginary love child of Tina Fey and Amy Schumer. School isn’t always fun, but when seeing your mates brings you more laughs than a Simpsons triple bill, you almost look forward to your first Monday morning maths lesson.

So, if your chums make you chortle so hard that you’re in frequent need of resuscitation, it sounds like your billion dollar sitcom deal is right around the corner. But even if your funniness goes no further than the school gates, having friends who embrace silliness and joy is more valuable than having an ASOS code that gets you 90 per cent off. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and it always makes you feel better. No-one ever cured anything with cool. 

@NotRollergirl

Image: Getty

I am what you’d call an enthusiastic person. It’s almost annoying. I’m the first in line when there’s someone doing free glitter lips makeovers, the one running towards the big scary rollercoaster in the theme park, the one pulling out a sewing machine when there’s a fancy dress party. I sing the loudest during “Happy Birthday” and do the lion’s share of organising the charity bake sales. I like being involved and I like being giggly and happy and celebrating things.

That being said, I hate Christmas.

Well, I don’t hate it. It’s more that I don’t get any enjoyment out of it whatsoever. I see people in festive jumpers sipping hot chocolate and unwrapping presents from friends and family with looks of festive joy on their faces and I know I should be in my element, but instead I’m left cold both literally and figuratively. While my friends watch the sky and cross their fingers for snow, I glare at every frosty day like it’s just insulted my mother and spat on my cat. The pressure of buying Christmas gifts for people far outweighs the makeup sets from Debenhams I get in return. I think most Christmas films are fine, but the only one I’d watch without simultaneously flicking through Snapchat is The Muppet Christmas Carol. 

I guess I feel about Christmas the same way I feel about getting my nails done or watching a football match. I know that some people love the experience and get really excited about it, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. It’s fine and I’ll tolerate it because I have no other choice, but it’s so far down the list of things I’d actually want to do with my time it’s only a few places above “listen to Nan talk about the time she met Shakin’ Stevens’ grandmother at the bakery for the 100th time”.

Hating Christmas wouldn’t be a problem for me if it wasn’t really lonely to feel like the only person in the world who isn’t celebrating something. When everyone around you is sharing plans, singing carols and ironically wearing ugly jumpers, it’s like they’re all having a brilliant party that you’ve not been invited to. The second Halloween ends and Christmas things start appearing in the shops, I start getting little twinges of dread about feeling like a freak for most of December.

It doesn’t help that people are constantly surprised at my lack of Christmas cheer, openly calling me weird or telling me I have no heart because I don’t understand the fun of eating weird things you’d never usually touch (Christmas pudding? Mince meat? Cheese footballs? WHY?!) until you feel sick and watching terrible Christmas ‘specials’ of TV shows that are usually brilliant (Doctor Who, I’m looking at you) while wearing hideous snowflake PJs from an auntie you haven’t seen in four years who couldn’t think what else to buy you.

If you’re similarly Scroogey, you’re not alone and you’re completely normal. I know how hard it is, and I’ve spent years figuring out the best ways to cope with the festive period when you’re feeling more like the Grinch than Good King Wenceslas. 

1. Always remember that Christmas will pass, and that by the New Year things will all be back to normal. TV will become sane, the food will be the lovely comforting stuff it always is, and you won’t have to listen to Fairytale Of New York 20 times a day any more.

2. Prepare your answers. When someone asks you what your favourite Christmas song, food or film is, make sure that you aren’t stuck mumbling “Um, well, I don’t really like Christmas”. If instead you can merrily trill “I love All I Want For Christmas/pigs in blankets/Love Actually! What about you?”, you don’t have to spend half an hour defending your perfectly valid dislike of all things festive.

3. Take some non-Christmassy time for yourself. Make an excuse – dodgy tummy, tired from all the festive fun, homework to finish, friends to FaceTime – and hide in your room with a book or your phone until you’re feeling strong enough to face the world again.

4. Get yourself a buddy. Find someone you love and trust – your mum, your best mate, that person on Instagram who always likes your selfies – and tell them that you get PMS, aka ‘Perpetual Merriment Strops’. Having someone who understands that you’re feeling rubbish and might need to unload will immediately make you feel less alone.

This Christmas, you’ll find me smiling on the outside whilst imagining I’m somewhere completely different on the inside. If I can do it, so can you. I hope you have a entirely manageable Christmas, and a totally tolerable New Year.  

I am a sucker for romance. I have watched pretty much every two-and-a-half star romantic comedy there is. I’ve pined along with Elizabeth for Mr Darcy, even though I still think he’s a grumpy arsehole. I’m the first person my friends call when they have a new crush because I know all the right moments to ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’ at their story. 

So it wasn’t exactly surprising that in the early years of being a teenager I fancied my friends’ older brothers. Not just one of my friends’ – I fancied ALL of their older brothers.

I didn’t discriminate on anything so trivial as age or appearance or sexual orientation. If you were my friend between the ages of 10 and 15 and you had an older brother, I fancied him. There is literally no exception to this rule.

I went to an all girls’ school from 12 to 15, or what I refer to as ‘The Oestrogen Years’. While other girls in my school would go to dances on Friday nights and meet boys, I went to debating and ate chips in the park with my teammates. On the bus home from school, other girls would flirt with the boys at the back of the bus, while I would sing loudly along to 90s songs with one of my friends.

I was scared of boys I didn’t know. My tongue would go thick in my mouth and I would end up shouting at them by mistake.

But my friends’ brothers? They were boys I knew. I saw them on a semi-regular basis, but never had to spend time with them one-on-one, which as far as I was concerned was the ideal amount of interaction.

My friends would drop crumbs of information about them – they liked maths, they went to see the new Star Wars movie, they were allergic to yoghurt – that I would feverishly collect with the same enthusiasm most people reserve for actual hobbies. I would use these pieces of information to adapt my daydreams of our eventual relationship to ones that included Yoda or excluded Yeo Valley.

Naturally, I had elaborate fantasies about how our relationship would go.

I imagined watching a movie, something funny and probably featuring Owen Wilson, when his arm subtly started edging closer to mine. The completely wonderful and secret kissing, where our teeth would never, ever, knock together. The conversation with my friend who would give me her complete blessing because she knew I was excellent and her brother was excellent and she wanted us both to be excellent together. Obviously.

I imagined the declaration of love that would make me weak in the knees. The eventual Loss Of Virginity. The wedding, where of course my friend would be my maid of honour and make a hilarious, yet deeply moving speech about how we were meant for each other.

I’m almost certain these boys had no idea I existed. A fact that one of them confirmed when I did eventually kiss him, a few years after I emerged from my obsessive bubble.

“When did you start fancying me?” I asked, hoping he would reveal that he had been pining for me for years. That my obsession with him wasn’t one-sided, but rather completely requited.

“I dunno,” he replied. “When you got hot?”

Yep, he was a regular Casanova. This answer was also unhelpful in a myriad of ways.

Firstly, it implies I wasn’t always hot. Which is obviously false. Secondly, even if I wasn’t hot (which I was), my personality is rockin’. How dare he overlook my passion for US politics, my weakness for videos of unlikely animal friends and my admirable loyalty to both of these topics throughout all the years he’s known me? Thirdly, it gives me no clear time line. Lastly, it was wildly unromantic and not at all like the script I had prepared in my head.

Being in love with your friends’ brothers can be difficult. Especially when you’re in love with eight of them simultaneously. And in real life, it might not work out anything like in your head. But hey, a girl can still dream.

When Rebecca Reid was at school, she was in a group of friends who would spread rumours about people and freeze them out if they weren’t cool enough. Years later she realised that what she was doing was bullying. In this video she looks back at what she did and why, and the advice she’d give her teenage self.