Nineteen. I’m nineteen. I have just over 8 months left to be a teenager.
This dawned on me in a sober state last night whilst hurled between various drunken idiots in one of Cambridge’s most exquisite clubs ‘ballare’, which we students like to call ‘Life’. I am approaching adulthood. The peak of my teenage years have been and gone. But what of them? I feel the need to document in an attempt to share what few valuable lessons I have learned.
This time two years ago was a pinacle point in my life. To give you some background: in March 2010 I had become single for the first time in my whole teenage life. It was followed by hurling myself into another relationship in a failed attempt to fill the gap. Staying true to my character, this of course lead to a tragic and exceedingly overdramatic birthday break up in June, and the start of a summer filled with lots of wild sex and drug abuse.
During this summer a recently single friend and I, along with a group of 7 emphatically horny teenage men who were a few years older than ourselves, created a group we named 4 Way Punch (4wp). It genuinely did involve a punch with 4 different substances in it, but I won’t expand on the details of that. This was a time where I had absolutely no regard for my personal well being; I was numb from the pain of the break up of a long term relationship that had defined my life for as long as I had been old enough to acknowledge it. He was the centre of my universe. It ended incredibly badly, leaving me (a friendless emotional mess) to face being at a new school with him and his new girlfriend. This was the rebound I needed, a perfect way to find a level of reassurance through making multiple men drool over me. But alas, the end of the 4wp party (which lasted all day every day for a solid month), was followed by mad nights in London and many a recreational drug. This phase lasted beyond the summer, specifically, till October 26th 2010, a year ago today (although there was a ‘rebound of the rebound’, of course, but that’s a whole other story). People at school thought of me in a typical ‘good by day, bad by night’ fashion, because whilst I was intelligent, charitable and Head Girl, I was still a sex crazed reckless bitch. Needless to say it was an odd time. My family treated me as some sort of mentalist and just left me to it. I bunked a lot of school, ended up with slightly dangerous people being pulled over by the police on numerous occasions, and generally behaved like a crazy slut-twat.
October 26th, I spent the day in bed crying alone for the first time in a long time (I’m a frequent crier by nature you see). A tragic situation in the family burst my carefree bubble and forced me to recognise the fleeting nature of life. It was time for me to pull my shit together. And I did.
Since that bizarre, and rather unexpected, awakening I have climbed the ladder of maturity and somehow made myself a relatively decent human bean. I think about the person I was then, and I barely recognise her. I will never understand what I was thinking – I guess I just wasn’t.
It kills me to think about the things I did and the total disregard I had for myself. I see people who are 19 too and yet they still have that numbness, equally, I see younger teenagers resembling the mess I once was. They’re everywhere. We live in a generation full of mutilated hearts dying to express themselves but with no one to listen. Humanity has never been so individualistic, we are often total strangers to our neighbours, sometimes even to members of our own families. Consider the fact that for the majority of our humanoid history we lived in hunter gatherer egalitarian societies …aaaaand boom, you’ve found the cause of all your problems. We have to retreat! Love thy neighbour; the bible was right all along, fools!
Something this journey taught me was how easily one person can fuck up another. My ex was the cause of my political awakening and rebellion against my heritage, and yet he was the reason I was fucking drug dealers and guzzling vodka like water on a daily basis. Everything good and bad about my life, at that time, revolved around him. Like shit, how fucking crazy is that?! He’s just one person! Never undervalue the impact relationship issues can have on you, and never undermine people who have just broken up with someone by saying ‘worse things have happened’. We can’t objectify issues; for some people breaking a nail may truly be a tragic situation, for me this was, for children living in Sierra Leone dying of starvation, being forced to kill your parents and being homeless is. I guess it does knock it all into perspective actually, but still, the failed point is, we live our own lives, and what is an easy situation for some may be terrible for others. If a person is suffering, even if their situation is better than yours, respect the fragility of humanity and our differences at dealing with personal problems.
So how to handle feeling lost in a world that simply doesn’t have the time or patience to care?
You are the answer.
Nurture yourself, rely on yourself, become someone you admire.
The truth is, the majority of people don’t want to be friends with someone who’s depressive, negative, lost, confused, etc. I do, I have all the time for you in the world, a few others do too, but most, most don’t.
This world is designed for people to succeed if they are:
– self assured
The more of those boxes you tick the more you’ll be liked, and the happier you’ll be. No one wants to admit that, I feel like a massive bitch just thinking it, but there’s little doubt in my mind, it’s true. The issue is, if you’re naturally disposed to behave in such a way and recognise this, you’re probably a selfish twat-slut-bitch with little regard for people who aren’t naturally kings or queens of the social jungle. Essentially, no matter what your character or how attractive you are, you’re a bastard/bitch/weird/ugly in the eyes of many, in one way or another.
50% of us are introverted, 50% of us aren’t attractive, 50% of us aren’t funny, 50% of us aren’t intelligent. There’s always a top 50%, there’s always a bottom. No matter where you lie on any of those scales, there’s an issue. Just accept it. No one’s 100% for everything- and imagine if they were – god they’d be so hated! You are you, embrace yourself, with all your flaws and all your quirks. Life is short and complicated enough without your unnecessary insecurities, so make this part easy: love yourself. You can’t change your physical and emotional components, maybe you’re bitchy by nature, maybe you’re ugly, maybe you’re a complete social retard… whatever. No one cares about the face you show to the world as much as you do, so just relax, people aren’t judging you the way you judge yourself, so be honest about who you are and you’ll find similar people and live in a happy easy going way.
Whilst all of this is true: you should be happy in yourself, you should embrace your quirks and never repress your desires… I have to adress a controversial thing I’ve learned. Being at a highly academic university has resulted in me (a weirdo) being thrown into a place full of 1000s of other weirdos. This is because overachievers are by definition abnormal. At first everyone’s excetricities clashed, and this definitely wasn’t helped by the competitive nature of the environment. So what I’ve learned this year is that in certain situations it’s appropriate to try and adjust your behaviour to meet collective artificial social norms (unless you’re one of those rare people who enjoy being ostracised, in which case you probably wouldn’t have read this far). Why? Because we’re social beings who need to feel ‘accepted’ in order to feel happy. It’s okay to be different, but only within the (relatively large) limits of social acceptability. Everyone needs to have people they can relate to, so by analysing your strangest *assets* and mildly toning them down will advance your interactions and enable polar opposites to address you more readily. This makes social situations, and thus life, so much easier.
My most odd quirk is my level of empathy, it’s odd because compassion isn’t something we value in our social interactions anymore. A boy saying ‘you look really amazing’ to a girl can’t just be a honest sign of sincerity anymore, holding the door open for a guy is weird, calling up your friends to tell them you miss them can be odd. I am an emotionally open person, people think its strange at times, but I like to think it brings out the best in them and makes my relationships so much stronger. When high I’ve been known to write 15 of my friends love letters trying to reassure them about all their insecurities and telling them how much I value having them in my life and how incredible they are. 10 of them had never had such nice things said to them before. Such sadness. Clearly my abnormality occasionally shines through, but I’ve learned to control it when appropriate.
So yes, I have come to realise (through much social embarrassment) that my emotional capacity is ‘unusual’ to say the least, (my nicknames, aside from ‘Decent Head Girl’, are ‘Tragic Life’, ‘Weep Face’, and ‘The Cuddle Cage’). I am a person of extremes; I’m either fully devoted to something or completely uninterested. So I have tried to analyse ‘normality’ in a failed attempt to get closer to it. In some respects I’ve learned to channel my emotions where they are safe and not run around hugging strangers. I feel like it’s repressed to a healthy extent; we all have to make sacrifices to fit into this society and get along with each other. I no longer cry more than the friend who has been cheated on, I no longer get high and run around parks picking up litter for fun, I don’t call up people I haven’t seen for years to tell them I miss them, I don’t sit down with homeless people and have a cigarette with them. Despite the fact that I sincerely believe there’s nothing wrong with these behaviours, I have suppressed my ‘abnormal’ desires to make myself a person people can better relate to, and to be deemed relatively socially acceptable. It has helped me ground myself, but of course I still have my moments, especially when alcohol/ecstasy is involved.
Despite all this, I have come to realise that being emotionally secure is truly the most valuable thing you can strive for in life. It means you can reassure yourself in the face of upset, and it means that people will flock to you like moths to a light. I can put myself in other peoples shoes and thus help them subjectively and objectively address their problems. Being like this has let me save lives. I don’t think I have all the answers, I don’t think I even understand myself let alone humanity!!! But I’m happy within myself, I don’t rely on anyone or anything outside my head for joy or reassurance. I think I’m on a path to a happy life.. and that’s what matters, that’s why people like me, that’s why I feel obligated to write things like this. Maybe it’s arrogant, but I don’t know many people who can achieve this so I’m just trying to help in what little way I can. Sorry if it’s offensive, I see why it may come across as patronising, but it’s just me being sincere. When you’re emotionally stable you can be self reassured which allows you to enjoy life in a far more sophisticated way.
Everything I’ve said can be summarised by saying: I wish everyone could feel stable and secure. If you can achieve this you will undoubtedly have an easier life. It comes from learning your flaws, accepting them, reaching a point of understanding about the various cruel parts of humanity, and becoming a kind approachable, relatively normal individual. We are all capable of it 🙂
So 20. That shit cray. But yeah, come at me adulthood! I’m ready and sooooooo up for leaving this shitty immature teenage thang.