Monday, 13 March 2017

Reflections

I'm turning 20 on Saturday. Which is weird, because I keep thinking about how I will no longer be a teenager, or fit into stereotypes regarding teenagers. Suddenly I'm in my 20s. And we all have this funny idea when we're little, that by 20 we'll be all sorted. You know, probably got a husband, 2 kids, a dog and a well paid job. Because at 20, you're an adult. Except I have none of those things. And today in my lecture on development the lecturer asked people who felt like they were an adult to raise their hand, and I could have counted the number of people who did. And my answer was "sometimes". Yes, I can go to work and do food shopping and cook meals and drive and drink alcohol, but I'm still very much a child. I crave routine, guidance, reassurance and affection. I'm not sure I'll ever really be a grown up. But here is a summary of my teenage years.

My teenage years gave me 11 GCSEs. 6 of which I even managed A* in, which meant I didn't quite make the cut of being in the school's gifted and talented. They also gave me 4 A levels and something called an EPQ. And a group of friends who would go for picnics with me, beach walks, stay up late laughing until we cried. They gave me a boyfriend. Who broke my heart. As did other boys, most of whom didn't even deserve to go near me. They gave me the ability to drive. Even if I had to sit through hours and hours of lessons with a weird instructor, and even if I only just scraped a pass. They gave me morals and views I wasn't aware I had. At the start of my teenage years I thought all feminists were man haters who burned bras and were covered in excessive body hair. Now, I'm ready to fight anyone who doesn't want to smash the patriarchy. My teenage years brought me jobs. And money. It's hard to work 13 hour shifts and not accumulate some coins. And I used that money to pay to explore a bit of the world. My teenage years gave me perspective, when i saw children growing up in slums, and girls living in a culture which taught them it was right to earn less than the men around them. My teenage years made me think I loved running. I didn't, and for every day I forced myself out in the cold and the rain to complete the same route I always did just to feel sane, I want to apologise to my legs. My teenage years taught me what healthy is. Because for a big proportion of them I thought that healthy meant running and emptiness and restriction. But now I know that sometimes healthy looks like chips on the bus home from a night out with your friends. My teenage years gave me more friends than I imagined possible. I went from shy and awkward to being the loud, outspoken one. But only sometimes. My teenage years saw my style change from non-existent to "indie" to weird to comfortable. Just today my flatmate said I was dressed like a grandma. But my teenage years have also told me not to care. And that my grandmas are great so to be compared to them is not a bad thing. I developed an appreciation for my family, too. Yes, my teenage years brought inevitable arguments, but watching people lose people they love makes you hug your own family a bit tighter. During my teenage years I had needles and metal put into me to give me piercings at least 9 times. I had drawings inked on my skin and I also had my tonsils temoved and given away a few pints of blood. I discovered a love-hate relationship with alcohol that makes me feel so alive at night and so dead the next day. My teenage years taught me skills like how to use a washing machine, but more important ones like how to be there for a friend when she's crying over a boy who broke her, or one who's decided she's not sure she wants to stick around much longer. My teenage years gave me nostalgia for cheese sandwiches in my childminder's car, sleepovers at my grandparent's house and beach holidays in France, a craving to be little.

I'm not sure i am the person I will always be, or that i am the same person that i was before. We change all the time. Personalities are not constant. I have learned a lot but I still have a lot more to learn. Here is to the next decade of my existence

Laura x