subject line: how to handhold yourself through your teens


tiny island

I think the thing about being young is that it’s really impulsive. Because I used to think, at ten years old, that I was pretty grown up already. Ageing and adulthood was just a matter of time, of days, of years, and when you get there, that’s it. You have it made. And perhaps most foolishly, I thought I was already there, maybe a half-step away just waiting for the right time.

It sounds pretty stupid now, I know. I just wonder why nobody ever told me as a kid that things weren’t going to be that easy. It was always ‘pass your exams’ or ‘there’s more to life than grades’ but what? What exactly was this nebulous, unspoken secret to adulthood’s nirvana that I, as a child, could not reach? More than anything, I wish I’d known earlier on that there’s a good reason why you have to be kind. Something that wasn’t ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’, because that’s a lie. You treat people the way they need, and deserve to be treated. This was something a teacher told me when I was twelve, and since I’m recalling it now, several years later even when he isn’t around to nag, he can mark that as one success in his book, at least.

And I didn’t really realize this until recently. I didn’t even learn how to be kind. So that’s the biggest struggle nowadays - learning how to treat people better. I do wonder though, why nobody ever warns you that one day you’ll wake up and realise what an asshole you’ve been.  

Everything has to be on purpose now. The way you stand, how long you hold eye contact, if you’re even brave enough to manage that. Every last word you say, and especially every fumbled social cue, you become acutely aware of in your teens. Then you file all of it away in your cramped-up memory space to pull out and cringe over later that night. Worst case scenario, you obsess over that shit and cry over it, maybe panic. Rinse and repeat. Again next week, then one more time a few years down the road. Maybe you never learn to let it go, but you try. Stuff like that.

Because it’s not uncommon now to think back to one risky joke you cracked and wonder if you hurt somebody with it. The most random things have the most profound meaning to other people, you know. Like how I never really got back into singing once a boy dissed me when I was eight. Now, I’d punch him if I could, the bloody asshole. But the damage is done, because I don’t think I’ll ever like singing again.

You live and you learn, I guess. I don’t know what else to say about growing up except that the only thing that’s gotten me through it is cutting myself some slack. Most of the shit you pull when you’re young can be forgiven. That’s the nice part. But it’d just be nice to have a definitive end, a line you cross so you know that at least you’re safely within the realms of being a decent human being now! That’s when you know you’ve made it - the new definition of ‘made it’.

So I just wanna know: how long until I get there?