Hello I’m Matilda, but people call me Tilly! I am 13 years old and home schooled. I live in the Lake district with my mum (Camilla, who is a writer and editor for ‘A Life Loved’) my dad Matt and two sisters Freyja who is 17 and Rowan who is 11. We have two dogs and a cat. I have a keen interest in fashion and design and would love to work in this industry when I’m older. I can often be seen in dungarees and high-top vans and I enjoy listening to music – I love film soundtracks, in particular work by Thomas Newman and Michael Giacchino.
I really love taking my dogs (Oscar and Nell) out on walks. I find being outside in the fresh air gives me a sense of freedom. I also really enjoy doing calligraphy and lettering, and knitting.
– Me on a walk with my mum –
I thought that I could talk about some of the positive aspects and the challenges that I face being a teen in the 21st century…
Technology & Social Media
As you probably know most kids these days around the age of 11 or over own a smart phone. This is usually to keep in contact with parents, friends, and use social media – such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. To me and I’m sure to everyone else, having a mobile phone is considered to be ‘normal’, but is it really the best use of our time, sitting and scrolling through endless comments and filtered photos? I try my best to limit my phone use in the day, as it can be rather addictive! How long do you spend on your phone?
I would rather not eat for a week than get my phone taken away. It’s really bad. I literally feel like I’m going to die.
– Gia aged 13 – taken from CNN Health –
Having constant access to social media presents its own set of obstacles. Do I look ok in this photo? What will people think of me? How many likes have I got? Why have they got more likes than me? As much as these questions may sound petty, they are the things that young people think about, and can contribute to us worrying about self- image and social acceptance. This can make it really difficult to be yourself as it is easy to feel overcome by the pressures to ‘fit in’. So are smart phones really that beneficial?
Even though there is a lot to be said for phones having a negative impact, there are many positives of having such easy access to such advanced technology. We can research, use a map, play music and have instant contact with people all over the world!
Sometimes I ask myself the question, ‘If I had the choice to have or not have access to technology and smart phones throughout my childhood, what would I choose?’
Some might say I do have a choice, but surviving the teenage years can be hard enough without going out of your way to be different to everyone else.
– Me on the left with my sisters –
I have spoken to my parents about this and they said they spent more time outside playing, riding their bikes and hanging out with friends, not worrying too much about what others thought, and generally having what sounds like a happy, care-free childhood. My sisters and I have spoken about this too and agreed that life could be much more enjoyable without having that constant pull to your phone. Waking up knowing that you can just ‘be’, without having to live a second life online or feel the pressure to always respond to messages immediately for fear of someone being offended if you don’t. My older sister Freyja recently deleted Snapchat – she says she feels so much better for doing it and has more time on her hands to do real things with actual people, rather than feeling obliged to document every aspect of her day on her Snapchat ‘story’.
I have been home schooled since May 2017, and that was definitely the best decision for me. Here are a few things I experienced in high school during the time I was there. I remember not feeling part of the ‘in’ crowd. I just did what I had to do and got on with it. I felt a lot of negative pressures being around lots of other kids my own age; being stared at if you didn’t have the newest rucksack or trainers or made fun of if you didn’t have your hair a certain way, or the newest phone. Crowds of older kids were intimidating.
I never felt like I fit in at school, as I am an introvert. I don’t like being around big crowds, and felt sick and nervous every day entering the world of high school.
They would hang around by the doorways and kick you in the shins when you passed by. This would often mean that I would take the longer route to get to where I needed to be, which was quite stressful when rushing between lessons. Queueing for lunch was a horrible experience. There would always be someone who kicked off with a teacher and the noise and general atmosphere was unpleasant. It just never felt like the safe, nurturing space that a school is meant to be.
I never felt like I fit in at school, as I am an introvert. I don’t like being around big crowds, and felt sick and nervous every day entering the world of high school. Overall school for me was a pit I felt I couldn’t escape from. What may seem easy to some, such as standing up on stage, or presenting in front of the class, felt nearly impossible for me. Now this doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard, whenever these situations came up I tried to the best of my ability, but somehow I never felt good enough. The education system today has a mould which may work well for extroverts but makes anyone who is anxious and quiet feel as though they are doing something wrong.
– Me enjoying a walk and the scenery in the Lake District where we live –
As you can probably tell, school didn’t work out for me, and my parents and I came to the conclusion homeschooling would be a better option. A typical day – during the time mum works (9am – 11am and 4pm – 6pm) I do my own independent learning such as researching online, reading, practicing calligraphy, exercising or completing a set task, amongst other things.
I feel more myself then ever as I can focus on the things I love and that interest and inspire me aswell as paying attention to my own well being.
During mum’s free hours we study English, Psychology, Art and Design and anything that might take our interest (such as History or German). I see a maths tutor once a week for 2 hours. Usually a dog walk is in there somewhere too! I feel more myself then ever as I can focus on the things I love and that interest and inspire me, as well as being able to pay attention to my own well being.
I’ve never had a vast group of friends; I am happy with a few, who I really love! When I informed everyone I was leaving to be homeschooled, the pressing question that I was asked was ‘how will I socialise?’ Even the time that I was at school I didn’t socialise to a great extent, as I’m generally a quiet person. So just because I am at school surrounded by hundreds of other children does that mean I’m socialising, even though I’m only interacting with a few of them? I still meet up with my friends regularly, go to the cinema, have a sleepover, or just hang out! That works for me
I think it’s important to have close friends at this age as it’s a time in life where everything can feel a bit wobbly and so having others around who are experiencing the same things makes all the difference.
5 best things about being 13:
- Having a smart phone to contact my friends/parents.
- Having few responsibilities.
- Having time to consider your future – exciting!
- This is specific to me, but being homeschooled is a great part of my life. No homework!
- Discovering who I really am, in terms of views, interests and beliefs.
5 worst things about being 13:
- Not having freedom from electronics (pressure from peers to constantly use social media).
- More pressure to look and be a certain way (how we dress/what we eat etc).
- Feeling nervous/paranoid about being independent due to the news always reporting stories of abuse and murder.
- Some adults not listening to you because you are young, even though you have valid opinions.
– Me on the right with my sisters at a music festival –
Thank you for reading this. I’d love to hear your thoughts about what it was like when you were 13? How has the world changed since then? What were the best and worst bits? Or if you are a 13 year old reading this, tell me what your life is like?
Lots of love from