Advice for My 12-Year-Old Self

Advice for My 12-Year-Old Self


In this article, Holly King-Mand shares the advice she would give to her 12-year-old self.

The back-to-school period is well underway and now that the initial euphoria is beginning to wear off, young people might find themselves at a junction.

Many schools will have started the school year with aspirational assemblies about goals and standards, and children will (hopefully!) be thinking about the school year ahead and maybe even the sort of student they want to be and what they personally want to achieve.

As adults, we frequently dish out advice to youngsters. I remember receiving advice from my beloved year 7 teacher, Mrs Virdee, about focusing on my schoolwork and not getting drawn into friendship issues. I also recall frequent ‘talks’ from my dad about not following the crowd and being myself, respecting myself, and becoming anything I set my mind to. Both of their words (including those from my mum and other influential people in my life) helped shaped the path of my life and where I have – so fortunately – found myself today.

10–14-year-olds need frequent guidance in this ever-changing world, and so I’ve put together the advice I would give to my hopeful, bright-eyed, 12-year-old self. Maybe this advice will resonate with you, and maybe your own 10–14-year-old will find something to take forth and conquer the world with.

Here goes…

Find Your Marigolds

Marigolds are quite special flowers. If you plant them in your garden, they will support and enable the other plants around them to grow and flourish. Friends are like flowers and you need to seek out your very own ‘marigolds’.

It can be hard to know which friends to invest your energy in but try to find marigolds – the friends that lift you up, make you feel good, cheer you on when you’re doing well and are there to support you when you are not. Don’t waste time on the strangle-weeds.

If you are not sure if someone is a marigold or a strangle-weed, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel proud of who I am when I spend time with them?
  • Do they think I’m special in my own way?
  • Do they care (or notice) when I am feeling sad?

If your answers are yes, you’ve found a marigold!

Keep Your Eye on The Prize

If you have a goal, make sure you maintain focus on it. Regularly remind yourself of what you want to achieve (whether it be a benchmark of house points, a sporting achievement or even completing a long-term school project). The moment you lose sight of it, the harder it will be to achieve.

And if you’ve got a bigger goal for further-down-the-line: reaching university, becoming a published writer, making a national sports team, getting a job in the arts – keep this in mind when you are making decisions and make sure your choices are leading you in the right direction. If they are not, you might need to review your choices or review your goals. Speak to a trusted adult if you feel conflicted.

Accept Your Mistakes and Make Them Right

Nobody (including your teachers, parents, and friends) will expect you to get everything right all of the time, but they will want you to be the best version of yourself when you recognise you didn’t.

Accept when you have got something wrong and be prepared to make it right. Making it right might mean apologising, repairing the damage you have caused or changing your mindset and speaking out about what you have learnt. You will gain the respect and trust of people around you if you are able to recognise an error of your own judgement or behaviour and make positive steps forward. And most importantly, you will feel proud for handling yourself in a grown up, responsible and kind way.


Holly King-Mand, widely known as the nation’s favourite English teacher, taught thousands of children online during the pandemic and has become an expert in vibrant online learning. You can find out more about Holly’s Classroom on Instagram, Facebook and at