So, yesterday, my beautiful girl, you turned seventeen. Seventeen! Such an inspirational age that it frequently features in song lyrics and novels. I can remember being seventeen very clearly - an age all about attraction, growing independence and following your dreams, all mixed up with uncertainty, anxiety and a lack of experience! Lawrence Olivier once said, "Inside, we are all seventeen with red lips" and I think he's probably right - we don't like to think about growing old; in our hearts and minds we want to stay our seventeen year old selves forever.
So, if it's such a remarkable age, then what advice would your old mum give you? Well here it is, 17 things I've learned and wished I'd known at seventeen (in no particular order and with no apology for cheesiness or cliche!)
2. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in - don't let others tell you what you think or feel.
3. Weigh up your options but don't spend too long thinking. Take the opportunity if it feels right - it might not come up again.
4. But there again, remember - 'there's no such thing as a free lunch'. If someone offers you something think about what they might expect in return!
5. Don't be in a rush to do everything. Take time to think about what you need at the moment as well as what you want in the future.
6. Be yourself - everyone else is taken.
7. Find a partner who is truly interested in you and not just in how you look.
8. Don't underestimate the value of patience and kindness. They can take you just as far up the career ladder as single-minded ambition, and, people will be less likely to want to push you off!
9. Everything seems worse at night. Sleep on it - things will be clearer in the morning.
10. Cherish your sister; sisters are blessings. She loves you just for being you and no-one will understand where you're coming from like she does!
11. Don't overlook 'the nice guy'. You might be drawn to the bad ones, the wild and the dangerous, but Mr Nice Guy is worth a try. Gentleness is far more important in the long run. He'll be the one who'll look after you and support you even when you're not being so nice yourself.
12. Nurture your friendships. Make sure to keep up with the old ones and be open to new ones.
13. Be kind to yourself. You're allowed to get things wrong.
14. Don't be persuaded to do something to please or to impress someone else. Listen to your inner voice; if you don't feel comfortable then it's not right.
15. Look after your body and stay safe. There are so many temptations but all come with risks and consequences.
16. Make time for the spiritual. There is something more to life than the material world around us. Whatever your beliefs, keep in touch with your spiritual side - be thankful, say a prayer, meditate, reflect, go for long walks - whatever feeds your soul!
17. Remember your family loves you no matter what. Our love is unconditional. You might, in the future, do things that are foolish, regretful, hurtful or downright annoying but it won't lessen our love for you - not even a tiny bit.