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when i was younger

My life as a Radio Phone In Freak.

It’s a Friday night and unlike most teenage lads my age, I’m not sipping white lightening, hassling wildlife down the park. Instead, I’m sat next to my phone, waiting for a call back from a radio station. Yes, I am one of those people.

By this point I’m a seasoned pro! I’ve even made some ‘fans’ (I use the term very liberally). At the time I wasn’t fully aware of how unusual my hobby was, to be honest, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Although my parents weren’t fully aware of how involved I became with the shows, I think they were more than happy to allow me to explore a creative avenue. They knew I wasn’t like the other kids at school, so I might as well do something different with my time.

There comes a point, as we’re growing up, that the real world shows up. Like an annoying friend of a friend at a party that you’re too polite to stop talking to, so you’re stuck with him for the night. Unfortunately, this bastard sticks with you for the rest of your life. Radio gave me the ability to hide in the toilet for a couple of hours, waiting for him to leave, I’ve come to realise that he never leaves… ever. But, you get better at dealing with him.

It meant that I spent a large part of my teenage life playing a role – the annoying teenage boy (not too difficult to perform, let me assure you). I was willing to call up a couple of shows and contribute my ideas, or just add some nonsense. At a time in my life when I could have felt very insignificant I felt important and special.

I became someone people laughed at, or with. To me, it didn’t matter which. My mate’s aunt even knew who I was because they listened the show – I was famous!

Thinking about my short-lived stardom (if I can call it that) it’s clear I relished the anonymity. It allowed me to not only be myself, but also try out being whoever else I could imagine. I think having that option as a teenager is incredible, you don’t have to be stuck being the person you are at school or around your parents.

Talk radio’s a mixed bag, there’s the fancy china on one side with Radio4 and on the other, is one of those plastic freezable cups you got on your 18th birthday with Talksport. You can’t deny that talk radio’s popular, LBC’s pretty much doubled its listening figures over the last decade (albeit they’ve gone national on DAB) and Radio4 is one of the most listened to stations in the country. Sadly, I’m not one of the millions of avid listeners any more, and it’s sad to think that part of my life is long gone.  I do look back and cringe at how involved I was, but ultimately, I’m proud to say – I was a radio call in freak and it made me who I am today!

 

I wish I knew when I was younger

I don’t like thinking too much about what I used to be like in a negative way, I like to think of it as a necessary step to becoming the person I am now. There are a few things I wish I knew when I was younger that would have made me feel a bit better, at least I imagine they would have.

1 – It gets better!

Despite the fact that all through secondary school I was told by my teachers, ‘these are the greatest days of your life’ I now know they were lying! It really does only get good once you’re older, don’t worry about how you look or what people think of you, as soon as you leave and go into the real world you can make so many different friends who are way more interesting than the few hundred people that happened to live near you. Whether it’s university or travelling that gets you into contact with new people, you’ll find that you’re a lot more interesting than you thought.

2 – Don’t plan too much

Some people always knew what they wanted to do and they grow up taking steps to live out their master plan, well these people either don’t exist, or they’re weird. Nobody wants to be one of these people! Just take life as it comes, if there’s something you want to do, start doing it, don’t be freaked out if a year later you’re not so interested in it any more – there’s always another option. It’s fine to not know what you want to be doing in 5 years time or even in 1 week, it’s more exciting that way.

3 – Your taste in music will change

You’ll look back at what you used to love and realise it was pretty mediocre, but it’s all a process. You’ll find you’re less reliant on what people say is good and you start to develop your own taste in what you like. It’s really liberating, don’t be ashamed of the fact that you thought that some corny rapper was the most fire mc alive, it’s a good way to learn what you love.

4 – Say yes

Don’t be afraid to just say yes, if someone offers you something its because they want you to have it, not because they’re just being polite. This might be a particularly British trait, we love to say no when it’s in our interest, don’t be afraid of the unknown. This applies to travelling as well, if someone wants someone to go with them and they invite you, save up what you can and get out there into the world, who doesn’t want to be friends with a yes person!

5 – Be brave

There comes a point as you get older that you realise that you’re going to die and the infinite universe will just go on without you. There’s a couple of ways you can deal with this:

– You get freaked out, hide from the reality and live like you’re never going to die just working away trying to earn enough money to pay your mortgage

or

– you get freaked out, you realise it’s best to spend the short amount of time you have on Earth doing as many things you love as possible. If you don’t think you love a lot of stuff, go out and find things you like doing!

6 – Smile

Whether people are mean or nice to you, it’s always good to smile back, people can’t work it out and it makes you remember how petty some things are.

7 – You can be sad

Considering the last point, don’t hide from you feelings. If you’re sad then, be sad! There’s nothing to be ashamed of and your friends should understand and be able to help you through it (if they don’t then chuck them!) The less you cage your emotions up the easier they become to deal with.

 

This list can be different for everyone and not every point will be good for you, but if you’re reading this and thinking that life sucks then you’re right, it does – it all depends on your perspective, if life sucks then try to change it because there are so many things to see and do out there, so stop reading this and get going!

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