Disclaimer: I am not eighteen anymore. I am closer to thirty than eighteen. That leaves it nicely ambiguous. Having said that, I did get ID’d the other week to buy paracetamol (age: sixteen) – I know.
I previously wrote a post about watching the movie ‘Lady Bird’ and how as a teenager I felt trapped; unsure as to where I was going.
As a secret, and don’t tell anyone else: I’m still unsure.
I think everyone is – most of us are just making this shit up as we go along.
It’s strange how much things change in a comparatively short time. I sometimes feel like a spectator to my own life, a bit like a soap opera, (I wonder if other people feel like this, or whether I’m just completely insane?), and how fast it’s happening. I think that’s something I realised fairly recently; is that life doesn’t stop in order to figure out what you’re going to do and, more importantly, how you’re going to do it. If you withdraw from life; the world continues to go on without you. It never stops spinning.
This isn’t supposed to be massively discouraging – it’s merely an observation that seems to be true for me. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t dream big, and dream wild. I do it all the time. All it means that time isn’t going stop, and a magic fairy isn’t going to come along and deliver everything to you on the morning of your eighteenth birthday.
I have been phenomenally lucky, there’s no denying it. I have had a stellar education, and have always had a roof over my head and food to eat. This set me up for a fantastic start in life, and I have my parents to thank for that. I try to remember that in times I’m bitching, or moody, or grumpy with my lot in life. It could be a lot fucking worse.
But I’d always imagined more when I was eighteen. As a teenager that seems to be the agenda; more, more, more. I think it’s partly to do with what we’re presented with through film, music, tv, and most other consumable media from the moment we’re old enough to understand it. You’re never really presented with someone who has a relatively normal experience actually having a fantastic time. Even those who live “normal” lives are either swept off their feet by an incredible love, a sudden windfall, an unknown skill that makes them the best in the world, or something equally fantastical. This is great; it provides an escape from every day. But it does, or at least it did for me, plant dreams and wishes in me that were – shall we say – slightly unrealistic.
I thought I was going to have it all by the time I was twenty-one. Any older than that, I thought, and surely I was over the hill. Taylor Swift had been winning awards since she was sixteen; the boys in One Direction were all younger than me; Simone Biles had been an incredible gymnast since was a foetus; Justin Bieber had bla bla bla…. the list goes on and on.
Then I realised; none of that matters. The only person measuring any of this was me. There was never going to be a moment where everything happened. It was going to happen slowly, perhaps so slowly I wouldn’t even notice it first. It’s something I’m still learning every day – that it is enough, as long as you wake up every day with a willingness to try and be better than yesterday. That’s not meant to be as cliche as it sounds, it’s more a way I try to approach things – otherwise what’s the point?
But that’s a blog post for another time…