|'Lads, these steps are actually really uncomfortable. And you didn't even get my head in the photo!' (Thanks for the pic, http://iam-dollparts.tumblr.com/post/38059719612!)|
A while back, I was distraught to read a blog post by a girl I've come to know and admire. Upon her sixteenth birthday, she wrote about how she was coming to believe that she was doing adolescence wrong - that she should be:
As a seventeen year old, and therefore someone older and wiser, I feel it is my duty to set this straight....doing things.I feel like I should be sneaking out at night, going to parties, making memories. I feel like I should be buying cheap beer in the supermarkets and hanging out with my closest friends, talking about nothing and everything for hours. I feel like I should be taking lots and lots and lots of pictures in my camera. I feel like I should be lying on the floor of my room, looking up the ceiling, and listening to some sad indie music in my denim shorts and tie-dyed shirt. And yes, I know this is so stereotypical and even a tad discriminative of me, but, it just makes me worry. What if I'm not doing enough?I want to be able to look back on these years and remember the rollercoaster feel of the time I've had. And I mean, I have made great memories. I have friends and a Friend who I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, and we've had amazing times with each other. But I just wonder if I'm making the most out of my youth. I wonder if this is enough. I'm sure that I would make more memories as I grow older but I'm already half-way through my teenage years and I'm not sure if I've lived in it enough...
That, first of all, is bullshit - that being seventeen gives me the authority to tell you how to be a teenager. Actually, no one really has that authority. And I think it is disgusting that we are given to believe that there is a formula for How To Be A Teen. I mean, it's easy to see why there is such a thing - so we buy stuff, but I'm not going to get into all that. You're sick of it anyway.
If you want to be sneaking out at night and going to parties and drinking beer and taking photos and listening to music on the floor of your room and all of that... if you want to, if it suits you, that is completely fine. What is not fine is that for this writer it feels obligatory, as if there's a mile-long checklist of important tasks that must be completed by the time you're 18 or 19 or 21 or whenever. That's just needless pressure that prevents you from doing what you really want to do with your time. And if you spend your time how you like, that's all that should matter. The only goal adolescents should have regarding their adolescence is getting through it without hurting themselves or anyone else, and emerging as an adult on the other side, even if it's hard to feel like an adult. And once that's done, you've just completed a successful adolescence. Gold star!
All of us who are teenagers now - I really don't want to use the word generation, it's become over-used - are 'doing' adolescence in a much different way than our parents did. With this new-fangled internet that's rotting our brains, for one, which I don't need to tell you about. And it's easier these days to be a person of colour or a girl or LGBT or all three than it was forty or thirty years ago, which is good. There are those that despair because teenagers these days don't have much to rebel against, apart from each other, but conformity years ago was more of an essential part of Being An Adult Person and getting a job and spouse, especially for women, which made rebellion lots more fun! But maybe it's this lack of conformity, set goals, a direct route to being a grown-up, that has resulted in record companies and film studios and retailers trying to put us on their routes instead. And everything is very confusing now.
I just think it's really sad that people who are leading perfectly adequate lives, even really good lives, people who are talented and kind and warm, feel as if they are not doing their life justice for no reason. That's all.
Smarter Than You Because I've Been Seventeen For One Month and Seventeen Days,