I turn 18 on Friday, and the other night I was gripped by an insatiable need to write (which is so so rare)- where I was lying in bed and then had to get up in order to note some stuff down.
17 is so romanticised, and I’ve tried to emphasise that even further- which goes to say that I’ve had a pretty intense year if anything. I remember watching a video with Mike from Friends, or Paul Rudd as people now know him (after the Clueless revival) where he says your teenager years are irreplaceable because you will feel the happiest you’ve ever felt, the saddest you’ve ever felt, you’ll laugh the most, and cry the most etc, but everything is so blown up and gives a lot of potential for learning, or getting creative, or just thinking about things and sussing them out for yourself.
I remember a few years ago, when I was about 14, I was really concerned that I was too ‘aware’ of being a teenager. It sounds really, really awful and shallow- but I genuinely feared that I didn’t feel like my peers because I couldn’t relate to things that were happening around me at the time (TBH, 2010 was a time when people did those ‘Rate me’ status’, etc) & I really didn’t get it, I just felt really aware that I was trapped in that horrible mid-teen existence, and I was just waiting patiently for it to be over.
My early teen years were ragingly ragingly angsty, in ways you wouldn’t believe, I once wrote a love letter to a crush in red watercolour and then ripped up the paper and ate it!! I was very passionate!! (and still am, but hopefully channel it a little better.)
Early adolescence is awful because you want to change your life so quickly and frequently, & nothing seems right (i.e SHALL I BE THE GIRL THAT WEARS A SINGULAR CLIP IN HER HAIR EVERY DAY? WAIT, NO, DOES THAT MEAN PEOPLE WILL PUT ME IN A BOX???) – but on the other hand you don’t want to change too obviously, so that your auntie will look at you and immediately say OHMYGOD YOU’VE GROWN UP SO MUCH! HAVE YOU STARTED YOUR PERIOD YET?! in front of your mortified dad.
Ways in which you can change your life when you’re 14:
- Delete your Facebook for a few weeks- people will think you’re really wild.
- Get a block fringe, write poetry about your newly-found identity, regret block fringe, write poetry about confused identity in relation to new appearance and lack of forehead.
Anyway, as I was saying. I used to try and reject the idea of change too much, because I didn’t want to control my life at a time when all I craved was adventure. I’d listen to an album, and beg for the belief that it’d be playing in my stereo forever, but deep down I’d know that nothing lasts that long and was desperately trying to cling onto these things, which were actually preventing me from trying new stuff. It got pretty cynical, “Oh, all of this stuff won’t be the same next week *mood swings mood swings* what’s the point of trying with anything if it’s likely to be gone when you begin to obsess over the next phase?”
I used to say no to quite a lot, ‘No, I wouldn’t normally do that.’ ‘No, people would think that out of character.’
SPOILER: You know when you were scared of working that singular clip in your hair, lest people put you in a box? Sister, that’s what saying no does too! Saying no puts you in a box. Putting a cool clip in your hair puts you in the coolest gang in the school, and that is what I learnt as a 17 year old. The End.
LOL! Just kidding.
(Please stay with me.) So, for ages, I was pretty bummed out being me- I had a lot of opinions, all pretty negative, I got exhausted by this, my friends dragged me out of the hole, but I was pretty stressed out for a while because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (and unfortunately at that time I had no idea how insignificant and unimportant that decision was, and I wish someone at school had told me that, rather than give me a Work to Action list.) Of course, having an idea of what you want to do is really great for some people, but right now I’m happy to not know. Yes. Full stop.
When you get really stressed, heartbroken, rejected, exhausted, burnt-out- it tends to take it’s toll, and that’s when I realised I couldn’t add to the problem myself by using the little energy I had in a negative way.
I began to say ‘Yes’ to things I wouldn’t have done before, which is a great way to find out who you really are, cause you get to have it all, and keep some of it. It’s like saying you only like chocolate cake, and never eating anything else for 17 whole years, but then one day someone suggests you try a carrot, and you do, and your body is like ‘Wow. I really need more of that because Vitamin A is delicious’. Kinda.
So, yes- I’ve come to understand the importance of mindfulness and being present- but certainly the hard way- as 17th year is ALL ABOUT the future, (or that is what they’ll try to tell you.), whereas, in fact it’s about the weekends! DUH!
SPOILER: Sometimes during weekends you can get a bit Yes- happy, and people around you will keep asking you if you’re okay, because they care about you, & even if they can’t understand why you’re doing things you wouldn’t normally, well that’s fine, too. They just love you and want to know you’re doing good.
It’s a total cliche, but you have to really hit bottom for a little while in order to realise that change is ever-evolving and essential to life, and all things must pass, all the bad (YAY) and all the good (boo!) When I was thinking about this stuff the other night, I was reminded about the Buddhist tradition of the sand mandala’s, where they create and destroy sand mandalas as part of a ritual, to represent the transitory nature of life. – Read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mandala
Ephemeral is a great word, literally meaning ‘lasting a very short time’ – and sometimes I just say it to remind myself that if you’re feeling shitty, you won’t soon, and if you’re feeling good, you won’t soon- so make the most of it. 17 isn’t forever, but that’s OK. Happy birthday me.