Are you sitting down? Because I’m about to hit you with some stone cold facts. Ready? OK:

  • By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean (by weight) than fish
  • There are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean
  • 79% of the plastic waste that humans have created has ended up in landfill or in the natural environment
  • A tiny 9% of all the plastic waste we’ve ever created has been recycled
  • Around the world we buy a million plastic bottles every minute
  • We make and use twenty times more plastic now than we did 50 years ago
  • One year’s worth of unrecycled bottles from the UK would stretch around the world 31 times

Wait, that sounds scary

It’s a lot to take in and it definitely sounds serious but it might give you an idea of why so many people are talking about plastic right now. Facts like that have people worried. We spent so many years using plastic products without a care in the world that when we’re faced with the damage it turns out they’ve been doing all this time, we feel responsible. That’s not a bad thing because it’s giving people a kick start to make changes.

Where does it all go?

The thing with plastic is that it doesn’t break down in the same way that something natural like vegetables or wood does. Natural materials will decompose over time and eventually give all their lovely nutrients back to the world. Plastic doesn’t do that. Instead it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.

So it never goes away?

Well, sort of. When plastic is sent to landfill, it doesn’t do a lot because the conditions aren’t ideal for anything to break down, let alone plastic. But when plastic finds its way to the oceans, it can break down really quickly. Things like bottles and bags break down into smaller and smaller pieces, sometimes so small we can’t even see them. That’s what we call microplastics.

Is it harmful?

Sadly, yes. Animals like turtles and seabirds often mistake plastic for what they usually eat and it can be fatal because it blocks their digestive system. Sharp objects like old plastic cutlery can be very dangerous when they’re eaten too. As well as this, animals can easily get trapped in plastic bags and nets. And those microplastics I mentioned before? Scientists think that they can be toxic.

Can I do anything to help?

YES! You can start by using less plastic and here’s how:

Stop buying drinks in plastic bottles. Buy a reusable, stainless steel bottle (there are LOADS of cool ones out there) and take it out with you instead. If you ever forget it and you’re ultra thirsty, opt for a recyclable can.

Buy a reusable coffee cup. Those plastic lids really add up and, even though they look like paper, the cups are often mixed with plastic too to stop them leaking. Reusable cups are way more eco-friendly and loads of places will even give you a discount for using one!

Ditch plastic straws. In America alone they use over 500 million plastic straws a day (a day!) so ask for no straw when you order a drink. If you reallllly love straws, you can buy metal reusable ones.

Stock up on tote bags. We use up to a trillion plastic bags each year but together we can change that. Go prepared with your own bags and always say no when you’re offered a plastic one.

Try a bamboo toothbrush. Instead of chucking out a plastic toothbrush a few times a year, get a natural, sustainable bamboo one.

Can I do anything else?

Big fat yes. How about getting your school or family involved? Try these ideas to get others in on the act:

Do a 2 minute beach clean-up. The #2minutebeachcleanup movement started in 2014 and it’s getting increasingly popular as more and more people start to care about plastic pollution. And yes, it’s as simple as it sounds! Next time you take a family trip to the beach, spend 2 minutes filling your tote with plastic that’s been left on the beach. When you’ve finished, pop it in the recycling (or the bin if it’s not recyclable *sad face*) and be proud that you’ve stopped it being washed out to sea.

Take on the school cafeteria. Do they use plastic cutlery, plastic food containers or straws? Round up a group and send a letter to the head teacher. You can even borrow the facts from the beginning of this article to make them listen if you like.

Ask for soap. Get your family to quit their hand wash habit and switch to packaging free soap instead.

Take a trip to the market. Forget fruit and veg wrapped in unnecessary plastic, see if you can get your family to go to a grocers or a market and buy it loose.

Start a recycling campaign. No recycling bins at your school? You might want to add it to that letter I mentioned…

Plastic pollution sounds big and really serious doesn’t it? Well, it is. But don’t let that make you feel like it’s too much of a problem to face. You can make a real difference just by changing the tiniest of things. Once you start to do it others will follow, so why not be the one to lead the way?

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@SophieBenson_

So here’s a reality show that we’re totally glued to: The Apprentice. The backstabbing, the epic fails, the boardroom fall-outs – it’s pure drama-rama.

But how many of the tasks involve real business brilliance rather than just a handful of common sense? Hands up if you watch it week in, week out, thinking, “well I could do that, and actually much better.” Yep, we hear you.

If you fancy slipping into a business suit to work your charm on Karen, win over Claude and avoid the dreaded finger point from Lord Sugar himself, take our test to discover why you’d be hired.

School can be hard, right? But what are your best subjects?

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Your mum’s roped you into helping her at a car boot sale, how do you make it a massive success?

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Who’s your celeb spirit animal?

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Which one of these Insta quotes is your LIFE?

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You’re selling a pair of trainers on Depop, what’s your strategy?

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Lord Sugar can be sooo harsh – which of these famous put-downs do you love the most?

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You and your mate want to watch different movies at the cinema, how do you get your own way?

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Everyone’s different obvs, but what trait in others do you find reeeally irritating?

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School uniform. Your thoughts on this please…

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You’re asked to work in a team on a school project. How do you feel about this?

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We all feel lonely sometimes, even the most popular people on the planet feel lonely – honestly!

Whether it’s because you’ve started a new school and don’t know anyone, you’ve drifted apart from some of your friends or you don’t even know the reason why and you’re surrounded by people but you still feel it. Well, newsflash – it’s totally okay to feel lonely. Everyone does!

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to deal with that feeling, turn it into something else and meet some new friends.

Try some new hobbies and get outside

One of the best ways to kick yourself out of a sad and lonely funk is to push yourself to do something brand new. Pick a hobby you’ve always wanted to try, like jogging, knitting or joining a new sports team. This will get you moving, it’ll get your brain thinking in new and exciting ways and it’ll allow you to meet new people too and gain new skills.

And remember, you don’t have to pick a hobby that involves people, sometimes loneliness can be good and lets you tap into your creativity and imagination. If you feel lonely but still want to spend time alone, pick a hobby like painting, calligraphy or write some poetry.

Look after yourself and tend to your needs

Do you ever feel like it’s really hard to be a good friend? And a good sister? And a good student? And a good daughter? It’s exhausting sometimes, right? But if you’re feeling lonely you need to look after someone else before anyone else. Have you guessed who? It’s you!

You can’t do well in school or give everyone else the love they need if you’re not looking after what you need. And what you need could be anything from doing less homework on a weekend because it causes you to feel nervous, spending more time on homework because you’re not doing as well as you’d like, asking for help with your work, getting more exercise, ditching the sweets and snack foods or anything else. You’re important – treat yourself like you are.

Meet new groups of people and join some clubs

Finding the energy to go out and meet new people can be challenging. We all think: “What if they don’t like us?” or “What if I’m no good at netball?”. But jumping into your fears can sometimes be the best medicine to feeling a bit lonely. You’ve tried something new, you’ve met some new people and over time they might become solid friends. Be proud of yourself!

Talk to someone about how you’re feeling

When we feel lonely a lot of us try and socialise with new people to get rid of the lonely feelings. But some of us hide away because we either don’t feel like people want to see us, or like we don’t want to see other people. This is okay sometimes, but the more you talk to people and get your problem off your chest, the better you’ll feel. You could try talking to one of your parents or your guardian, a teacher, a brother or sister or anyone you feel comfortable with.

If you’re finding your feelings of loneliness really difficult, then there are some services that let you talk to people as much as you like.

Remember that it’ll pass (psst… you’re a lot stronger than you think you are)

Sometimes when we feel really sad or really lonely, our minds make us think that it’ll feel like this forever. But all moods pass – the good, the bad, the in-between. A good thing to try and remember is that even when things don’t feel good, they’ll change. Even if it’s just changing from, “this sucks,” to “this feels okay.” You can get through it, we promise.

@BeccaCaddy

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

Many of us feel a little bit nervous before we get on a plane. We think about things like whether we’ll find the right seat, whether the take-off will be bumpy or if they’ll be any turbulence. But for most people, once you’re up in the air, watching a movie or reading a good book, you feel fine – especially if the plane food is good!

But according to stats, not everyone is so lucky. Roughly 20 to 30 percent of people are very scared about getting on a plane, to the point where they’ll feel very panicked, ill or even not able to get on their flight altogether. This intense fear of flying is called aviophobia or flying phobia. And if you experience it, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Plenty of other people have a fear of flying too. And to make you feel better, a lot of celebrities have been outspoken about just how much they hate being in the sky. According to tabloids, Britney Spears has never been a fan of flying, which isn’t ideal given she’s spent so much of her life touring the globe.

And, according to a friend, Kate Winslet and her ex-husband Sam Mendes never used to fly in a plane together because they’d be scared something might happen and their kids would be orphans.

They’re not the only ones, reports suggest Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Megan Fox, Holly Willoughby and Aretha Franklin aren’t fans of flying either. And we’ll bet there are a whole load of others who don’t admit to it.

Why are some people afraid of flying?

It’s all good and well to say a lot of people also have a fear of flying. But why are some people terrified while others happily jump onto the plane?

Well, there are all kinds of reasons. And it’s likely to be different for different people. People who tend to get anxious or scared a lot in general often find flying difficult, because it elevates their fears.

Others feel scared because they may have had a bad experience of flying in the past or they know someone who has. Our brains like to make patterns to keep us safe. Like, don’t go down that path because it scared you last time. Or don’t touch that hot plate again because it nearly burned your hand. It’s the same with flying. If you felt scared before, your brain doesn’t want you to experience that again.

Or for others it just doesn’t make much sense at all! Sometimes the most relaxed people who had had no negative flying experiences get scared. The answer isn’t really in understanding why, it’s in understanding how to make it better.

Here’s how you can feel better about being up in the air

Breathe. This sounds simple, but when our bodies and minds are panicked, our breathing tends to get faster. This then tells our body something is really wrong, which can often make us feel worse. Fight that instinct by taking some really deep breaths before, during and after your next flight.

Distract yourself. If thinking about flying scares you, don’t think about it. That’s easier said than done and often the only way to get it out of your mind is to do something else. Watch a movie on the plane, take a book, try a puzzle book, or do all three! You want your brain to be occupied so you can’t think about flying.

Visualise yourself in the future. A technique that lots of phobia experts suggest is visualising yourself stepping off the plane after the flight. They recommend making this visualisation as detailed and real as possible. How does it feel? How does it smell? What are you looking at? The most important part is to imagine a big smile on your face.

Eat well and exercise beforehand. We all know that eating veggies and getting exercise makes us feel a little bit better – even if we’ve been feeling really low. Do everything you can in the run up to your flight to feel your absolute best. So even if you do get nervous, you can cope with it better.

Chat to a counsellor or therapist. If your fear of flying is really upsetting you, or stopping you from travelling altogether, then ask your parents or teacher to help you find a therapist or someone who specialises in fears. They’ll talk to you about what’s scaring you and might help you to get over the fear completely or teach you some professional coping strategies for getting through it.

Remember. A fear of flying is one of the most common fears on the planet, so don’t worry if being in the sky makes you feel worried. There’s plenty you can do to make yourself feel better, from simple breathing through to a detailed distraction plan. Once you get to your destination you’ll feel so proud you managed to do it – visualise that whenever you feel scared and you could beat your fear yourself. And what a great feeling that would be.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

There’s tired. There’s ‘just so tired’. And then there is limb-achingly, head-swimmingly, deliriously tired; the kind of tired you only experience after spending all night on homework/revision/text to a potential bae. It’s a tiredness that knows no end; that refuses to be beaten by tea or coffee even if they were being fed via IV into your bloodstream. 

So how do you cope when you feel this way? Here are a few theories, none of which involve caffeine. Obviously if you love your morning flat white, be our guest, but tread carefully with coffee, Coke or rocket fuel energy drinks like Red Bull – too much caffeine can have unpredictable effects on people, and too much caffeine is as likely to make you queasy as psyched.

Instead, look at your day. Break it down into the most bitesize of chunks, and consume accordingly, with scheduled breaks and something sweet to look forward to. Because tiredness is a state of body – but it’s also a state of mind.

1. Splash your face with cold water

And no, I don’t just mean in the morning. I mean whenever you feel the weight of sleep slowly, gently crushing your eyelids into submission. I mean every hour, if you have to – and if you want an extra boost, moisturise and mascara yourself too, or get a hydrating facial mist like this one from Superdrug. The cold will wake you; the stimulation of drying your face on a towel will get your blood going; and the mascara will both stop you from rubbing your eyes (the telltale sign of the sleep deprived) and make you feel more normal. Because whatever ‘normal’ is, it’s not face-planting your desk.

2. Eat a banana

I once met a women who ran marathons, two businesses and a family of four children. Her secret weapon? Bananas. “They are the ultimate energy boost,” she explained. They come ready packaged. They pack a punch full of sugar – fruit sugar, that is – and plenty of other nutritional good guys too, like potassium, riboflavin and vitamins B6 and C. We’re not entirely sure what they do exactly, but science tells us it’s beneficial, and my body agrees.

3. Go for a run

Failing that, go for a walk. Failing THAT, jump up and down outside for a few minutes. I know it’s cold, but that’s one incentive to move. The second incentive – if I may be so bold – is to increase your blood flow, which gets the blood into your brain and your thoughts into action. The third incentive is that it boosts your mood, your appetite, and gives you that gentle pull-yourself-together slap that only bitter, damp February air really can.

4. Get changed

Say what you like, there is something about a fresh pair of pants that makes even the weariest of days feel less weary. Even the starchy, white-whites smell of washing powder has an uplifting effect. Just as getting ready to go out can put you in the mood even when you least feel like leaving the house, so going through the motions of getting ready can perk you up. Even if it’s just changing your hoodie so you can sit back down at your desk and carry on revising.

5. Dress smart

The old saying ‘dress smart, think smart’ isn’t just a cunning ploy by adults to get you our of your trackies; it’s true, at least for many of us. Studies have suggested that for people who have to wear a uniform to work, putting it on has a positive effect on their concentration levels. You don’t have to wear your lab coat to write that biology essay (though it can’t hurt, if you feel like it) but a changing out of that jumper you spilled ketchup down yesterday might just help.

6. Let there be light

The brighter it is, the more alert you’ll feel too. Sure we might all look better in low lighting – that’s why candles are so popular – but if this essay/revision sheet/workbook is ever going to get finished, you’re going to need the lights a-blazing. And if it’s still daylight, work by an (open, preferably) window.

7. Sniff something

Not that we’re suggesting you become an amateur aromatherapist, but a quick whiff of citrus, vanilla or mint can be pretty effective at stimulating your senses – and your brain with them. No need to buy the oils (although they’re not too spendy in Holland and Barrett) – a nice fat grapefruit, vanilla stick or a handful of fresh mint leaves will suffice! Or failing that, body spray. But stop before you get a headache, you should know that by now.

8. Have a nap

Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just the only thing to be done. Sweet dreams.

@finney_clare 

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Money talks, and whoever came up with the phrase “the best things in life are free” clearly hasn’t scrolled the ASOS sale in a frenzied state, or experienced pure, unadulterated joy when filling a Primark shopping basket (or two) to the brim.

How much dosh you have in your pocket can be the difference between having an awesome weekend and lying on your bed, bored AF. That’s the harsh reality, right? So if the only thing stopping you living the life you want is your bank balance, there are way worse problems to have. Trust us. This one is *totally* in your control.

With a few clever cash hacks, and an overhaul of your dodgy spending habits, you can start to make some money RN, and look forward to a loaded future. Just don’t forget to invite us on your yacht, yeh?

(Btw. Without wanting to do a total 180 on the above, some of the best things in life are actually free, so getting too obsessed with all things cash isn’t cool. Don’t be *that* person.)

Earn it!

Life lesson No.1 (and it’s a toughie) is that the world doesn’t owe you anything so the only way you’re going to get rich is if you get off your butt and make it happen. Look at the Kardashian sisters. Say what you like about them, but. beyond their walk-in wardrobes, private jets and endless shelves of beauty buys, those girls graft and graft and graft. So if you want more wonga, you’ve got to earn it. Simple.

Get a job

Obvs. But how? Well, 13 and 14 year olds are legally allowed to work as long as it’s for a maximum of 2 hours on school days and Sundays, or for no longer than 5 hours on a Saturday (plus a break) – there are different rules for the school holidays and if you’re 15 or 16, you can do slightly more hours. Ask around in your local shops, cafés or hairdressers and don’t be discouraged if you get knocked back at first. By making yourself a positive pest and proving that you’ll work hard, someone will give you a break.

Lift a finger

Now we’re not saying you should get paid every time you tidy your room or put a plate away (you probs get a bit of pocket money in return for chores anyway) but there’s bound to be other random jobs around the house that your parents will gladly pay you extra to do. Spot something that needs doing/sorting/fixing and quote your price for getting it done. It’s all about switching your mind into entrepreneur mode. Now go hustle.

Sell your stuff

If you haven’t discovered Depop and eBay as a valid way to bring in some £££, where the heck have you been? And if you think no one will want to buy your much-loved trainers or well-worn tops, you’re so wrong – one girl’s trash is another girl’s treasure. Just remember to take good photographs when selling your stuff. It’s all about the pics.

Watch the kids

At first, you might be most comfortable babysitting for family, or friends of the fam (a stranger’s sprog is a lot of responsibility after all), but here’s a job that is essentially being paid to watch CBBC. If the little ones love you and you can be trusted (which means *actually* watching the kids and not scrolling Instagram), it could be a regular gig, which means regular dosh.

Get creative

Are you a makey-makey/craft kinda girl? Then why not earn some money for your creative endeavours? For inspo, have a scour of Etsy to see the things that sell like hot-cakes – this can be anything from crochet bandeau tops (you might need to get your nan on board to help with these) to slogan tees. If you’ve got a stylish eye for photographs you could be getting cash for your dreamy sunsets shots too. On photo market places like picfair.com, you can upload your cool pics, pick the price you want to sell them for, and then sit back and wait for the dollar to roll in. All without moving from your bedroom.

Save it!

OK, we know it’s sooo tempting to spend every single penny the same day you get it (and then have to call your mum for a lift because you can’t afford the bus journey home, oops), but if you want to build a stash of cash, you have to have a solid saving strategy. Think of it as building your empire.

Plan your pennies

Sounds boring, but budgeting is so the way to go if you want to make your pocket money last longer than a few hours. Once you get the hang of it too, controlling your cash can feel strangely and satisfyingly addictive. Pin down where your pounds get spent by keeping a money diary for a month. Write down exactly what you buy every day and then work out what’s essential spending and what’s just silly squandering (then cut back on those splurges). That 99p cheeseburger might seem like a total bargain, but gobble a few in a week and it all adds up.

Cash is king

If you’ve got a bank account already, it’s likely that you’ve got a debit card too. And it’s likely that you’ll find it much easier to whip that out in a shop than using actual coins and notes. But hands-up if you lose track of what you’re spending this way, and then feel sad when you’ve drained your entire bank account? Booo. By using cash only, you can see in your hand what you’ve got left and you can also leave a bit at home if you don’t trust yourself not to spend it all in one go (we hear ya).

Go with the flow

Does your money stop and start rather than flooooow? You totally need the flow. That means coins coming in at the same rate as they’re going out. Get into the habit of having more money “in” than “out” by resisting buying something straight away if it’s going to leave you with zero cash. Also the golden rule of money management = never borrow. Owing money sucks, so if you can’t afford something now, wait ‘til you can.

Save. Save. Save

Again, this sounds so yawn in principle. But consider the thrill of buying those £100 Nikes, because you cleverly saved your cash. Not so boring then, huh? Whenever you get money in your mitts try stashing a 1/3 of it away (or 1/2 if that’s doable) so it becomes totally untouchable. This can be in a savings account or a hidden pot at home. Do this each time, forget that the money even exists and it will build quicker than you think.

Forget FOMO

Argh, FOMO is the fastest way to get skint so you need to develop skills to ignore it. Saying no to the cinema because you’re saving for something else is sometimes the smart thing to do. Don’t get washed along with your mates’ plans without thinking if a) you can really afford it, or b) if that is how you really want to spend your cash. It’s ok to say no. The world won’t end.

Spend it!

Oh, we’re well aware of that strange, out-of-body-experience that can happen to us in a shopping centre. Y’know, when you’re haemorrhaging cash to rival Kim and Kayne, but you JUST. CAN’T. STOP. Sound familiar? Yup, we get it. Shopping is addictive and buying things creates fuzzy feel-good vibes. That is until you get home and realise that you’ve massively overspent, nothing fits right and you didn’t really need that top in all THREE colours. Urgh. If you recognise this crazy spend-a-holic in you, reign it in with these tips.

Head over heart

To avoid getting sucked into a spend-frenzy, pro-shoppers carefully plan what they need to buy before going online or near a shop. Ask yourself these three things before handing over your hard-earned cash. Do I really need it? (Like, really?) Can I afford it? Can I wait a bit longer for it? By stepping back and questioning every possible purchase, you’re less likely to get lost in a buying bubble. We’ve all been there.

Become an offer queen

2-for-1, BOGOF, 3-for-the-price-of-2… Make these phrases your money mantras. Spending a few extra minutes looking online for a discount code, or signing up to a website’s newsletter can also save you 10%, 15%, or 20% on a purchase. Hurrah. Make it a habit and you’ll never pay full price again.

Get together for gifts

Shopping for your best mate? Anyone who’s tried to buy the best gift EVER with just a fiver, knows it’s a hard ask – you’re looking at a Lush bath bomb and not much else. So get together with your other friends and buy joint. By pooling your pounds you can get one big pressie that she’ll really love.

Be a pre-loved pro

Seen a top that you LOVE but it’s 50 quid? Here’s where Depop, eBay and vintage shops come in again – remember that trash/treasure theory? You don’t need to have everything brand new after all, especially if you get bored of your things easily. Buying pre-loved clothes means they’re loads cheaper, so you can actually buy more stuff with your money. Win, win.

Plan ahead

There’s nothing like a few birthdays or that massive money drainer called CHRISTMAS (yay Christmas!) to wipe out your cash, so plan well in advance for buying pressies. Shopping for just one thing each weekend between now and 25th December, rather than buying *everything* on Christmas Eve, will make the whole thing way more fun and much less painful.

@alicat01

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Taylor Swift was just 16 when she brought out her first album, Taylor Swift, at which point she’d been writing songs for four years #teengoals.

Before she was singing about moving to New York and possibly going out with Harry Styles, Swift bottled up the ultimate teenage experience and poured it all out while strumming on a guitar. Her earlier albums contain a lot of solace for anybody trying to work out dilemmas at school, with friends and, yes, with boys.

So, to celebrate one of our fave singers (and perhaps hopefully a new album this year), here are the best lyrics to live your teenage life by – and the songs they come from.

1. Life is bigger than kissing the person you fancy

A valid lesson for life, not just adolescence, and yet one that can always fade peskily into the background when hormones are really doing their thing.

Swift, who has built a career on singing about kissing the person you fancy, included this nugget of wisdom in Fifteen, a cautionary ballad from her second album, Fearless. In it she captures everything from the first day of school to first dates, kisses, and heartbreaks and includes the sage advice: “But in your life you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team”. And you will.

2. Whatever you’ve done, you can pick yourself up and start again

Bizarrely, Swift’s introspective Speak Now album track Innocent is said to be written about Kanye West, who famously interrupted her while she was collecting a gong at the 2009 MTV VMA ceremony. In it, she tells him that it’s ok, we’ve all done bad things, it’s never too late to start again. Swift called the song an “open letter” to “someone I forgive for what he said in front of the whole world”.

Granted, not many of us have been publicly shamed by famous rappers on a world stage, but the essence of Innocent works both ways: firstly, be the bigger person and forgive that fool who’s hurt you. Secondly, you can always overcome your demons. As Swift sings in the song: “You’ll have new Septembers, every one of us has messed up too.”

3. Accept your fears, but be brave and do it anyway

Fearless is the most Swiftian of Taylor Swift love songs. There are the essential bingo cards of wet pavements, best dresses and late night drives, but really the imagery of this swooning country number pales in comparison to its message: we’re all scared of stuff, but doing things regardless can be wonderful.

Swift was 16 when she wrote Fearless, and hadn’t really even been on a proper first date. But that didn’t stop her from thinking about what love might look like.

She also explained the true message of Fearless, which is something people of any age can understand: “Fearless doesn’t mean you’re completely unafraid and it doesn’t mean that you’re bulletproof. It means that you have a lot of fears, but you jump anyway.”

4. Know when to stand up for yourself

Listen, this is where artistic license comes in: I’m not suggesting you hire a crack squad of assassins to go and lick your ex-boyfriend’s forks. Obviously. But there is something to be said for Swift’s furious country rock song Picture to Burn, which hints at the possibilities of her vengeance when she’s been wronged.

Sometimes people will do bad things to hurt you, and there’s nothing wrong in asserting yourself – even if that’s in the form of a quiet chat, rather than a pyrotechnic music video. As Swift frequently explained this song on stage: “I really do try to be a nice person… but if you break my heart, hurt my feelings, or are really mean to me, I’m going to write a song about you.” 

5. Everybody feels like an outsider sometimes

The Outside is not one of Swift’s best songs, or her most fun. But it is the first she ever wrote, at 12, about the fear and loneliness she felt going to school – which she claims was far greater than anything she’s felt since.

The good news is that, had she not felt that way, she wouldn’t have written songs, channelled her energy into music and given We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together to the world. But it just goes to show that even international pop stars can feel sad and small at 12, just like the rest of us mere mortals. And maybe your school days aren’t the best of your life?

As Swift said in an interview: “[I was] a complete outcast at school. Some days I woke up not knowing if anyone was going to talk to me that day. People always ask, How did you have the courage to walk up to record labels when you were 12 or 13? It’s because I could never feel the kind of rejection in the music industry that I felt in middle school.”

6. It’s okay if your mum is your best friend

We know, she’s annoying. But your mum’s also been through a lot of this stuff before and knows you probably better than your mates do. Swift had a really good relationship with her mum, especially when she felt lonely at school, so she surprised her for Christmas in 2011 with The Best Day, and a montage of home video clips (sob).

As she explained a few months later, she wrote the song while “remembering all the times that we had when she was my only friend when I was 13 and I couldn’t understand why my friends were being so mean to me. She would just take me on these adventures and we would drive around and go to towns we’d never seen before.”

7. Appreciate you have a lot to learn, and it’s going to be fun to find it all out

Ok so 22 may seem like a long way off at the moment – and that’s because it is – but Swift’s infectious song about a transformative year of her life was written as a celebration of accepting the journey you have ahead of you.

As she told Billboard: “I like all the possibilities of how you’re still learning, but you know enough. You still know nothing, but you know that you know nothing. You’re old enough to start planning your life, but you’re young enough to know there are so many unanswered questions. That brings about a carefree feeling that is sort of based on indecision and fear and at the same time letting loose.”

While right now your options of having “breakfast at midnight” might be more sleepover-based than frolicking around New York, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take joy in all of the exciting things ahead. As Swift sings: “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical.”

8. Don’t forget it’s ok to be a kid sometimes

We know it’s tough right now. Adulthood: either it feels like you’re getting there too quickly, or not quite quickly enough. Swift was barely an adult when she wrote Never Grow Up, but she did so for the younger girls in the crowd at her shows while exploring her own confusing feelings about growing up.

The song is fairly self-explanatory in that way, but her simple advice tugs on the heartstrings at any age. While you’re busy trying to do all that stuff actual adults get to do, don’t forget that there’s a lot of really wonderful things about being younger too: “Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room, memorise what it sounded like when your dad gets home”.

9. Those school bullies will never be as cool as you

It is a truth universally known to those who survive and leave school that the class bullies wind up kind of loser-y, while the nice, smart, kind people get to go and do cool things. Swift realised that, whatever she did, there would be people talking trash about her. Then she wrote a heel-kicking country kiss-off about how little she cared.

Learn the words to Mean. Sing them loudly, because victory shall be yours – one day, at least: “Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me / And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.”

10. Just keep doing your own thing

Shake It Off signalled Swift’s official move from country to pop music in 2014, and while the video met with controversy, it quickly became a giant dancefloor (and YouTube lipsync) hit. In it, she tackles all the accusations thrown at her by critics and the media – going on too many dates, having nothing in her brain, etc – and tells them that she couldn’t care less, and will continue to bang her own drum regardless.

If you can manage to do the same thing during your teens, you’ll be absolutely fine.

@alice_emily

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Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds