On April 8th, 1998, the night of my 7th birthday, I decided that the year that I was 6 was the best year of my life. I sat in bed and reminisced on the events that had played out in the last year and told myself that nothing could beat being 6 years old. (I was a strange kid who was oddly conscious of my own self). Even though I can remember making this declaration to myself and I trust my 7 year old selfs judgement of what constitutes for a good year, I don’t distinctly remember a single thing about being 6 years old. I remember playing outside a lot, going to dance class, and wearing a pair of sparkly Dorothy inspired flats for every occasion, but most of it is just a blur.
My birthday has always been a critical day for me every year. Just like New Years, I use my birthday as a set date to unofficially reflect on my previous year and reevaluate where I’m at in life. The older I’ve gotten, I’ve taken on more responsibilities and developed a deeper understanding of who I am and what I want out of life, so consequently the harder birthdays have been for me each year. Now that I’m turning 21 in about a month, I’m back in this mind set of reflecting on where I am in my life.
I’ve found, more so these past few years than ever before, that somewhere inside myself there’s a deep seeded resistance to growing older. Growing up scares me and has for a long time. It’s not that I don’t think I can’t handle it, because I know I can, I’m just terrified of legitimately fucking up or not being where I want to be in my life. However, while all of this is terrifying in its own right and well, beyond stressful, I’ve managed to find a somewhat jaded silver lining. Surprisingly, while worrying about all of this bullshit, I’ve come to realize that there are some positive aspects to growing up that quite frankly aren’t discussed quite as often as they should be.
First off, being a teenager is one of the most awkward stages of a persons life. Period. And if you’re one of those people that say they never had an awkward stage then chances are you have always been awkward and still are now so shut up. Seriously though, hitting puberty, legitimately dating people for the first time, acne, growth spurts, curfew and more, there’s nothing really cool about being between the ages of 13-19. Sure, your parents are probably responsible for a majority of your finances, and your biggest worry may be picking what dress you’re going to wear for prom BUT trust me, the pros of being past this stage of your life seriously out weigh the cons.
Along with becoming wiser and more mature, growing up encompasses a ton of really awesome things, especially when it comes to your personal style. Growing up is essentially just one bad outfit/style mistake after another until you figure out what works and what doesn’t. You can only feel completely confident and comfortable in the way you decide to present yourself after you’ve fucked up numerous times.
For instance, we all remember that first pair of heels we tried to rock, stumbling from one place to the next and kicking them off as soon as we had the chance. However, thanks to those horrible moments of pain and slightly dangerous steps into adulthood, you are now able to stand in heels with poise and grace. Getting over the period of not being able to walk in heels opens up a whole world of possibilities. For example, you can be taller if you so choose to be and walk with a sense of power, which I have learned can be a very good thing sometimes. Plus, high heeled shoes are way more attractive and interesting than any other type of shoe, ever.
The ability apply to apply dark eye makeup as much and as frequently as you want to is also a definite plus to growing up. In fact, being able to dress however the hell you want in general is why growing up is cool. Trying to express yourself and test out looks without your mom noticing and commenting on how “it’s not appropriate for your age” or “how you would look so much nicer if only you _____” is a daily struggle for the average teen/tween/whatever. Separating yourself from your parents and distinguishing yourself as the individual that you are will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment unlike any other.
There’s a certain “I don’t give a damn” attitude that you can only fully acquire after you’ve had your fair share of awkward teenage moments, dated and gotten over a douche bag, and accepted your parents for who they really are, flaws and all. As a kid, I always looked up to adults as being the people who had everything figured out. My parents were practically Gods to me. However, this is something that you come to find out with age, just isn’t true. If I’ve learned anything significant in my almost 21 years of living it’s that people never really grow up, at least in the traditional sense. Yes, there comes a point in ones life where you’re required to take on more responsibilities and have to make more mature life choices but people don’t ever grow out of feeling vulnerable or scared. There isn’t an age where somebody stops making mistakes and gets all their shit together. Sure, they can to an extent but fully? Well, that’s questionable.
So whatever it actually means to be “an adult” is of little significance to me. If anything, hopefully, I’ll be able to look back on these years of my life with as much humor and appreciation as I do my teen years now. Instead of cowering in fear from the reality of what life is, my goal for myself (and for anyone else who chooses to try it) is to embrace the absurdity and scariness that is growing up. Life is too short to legitimately worry about something that you ultimately have no control over.