Let’s Never Grow Up

This year, I turn twenty. That is so strange to me. Twenty seems like it should be some kind of cut-off point. You’re no longer a teenager at twenty. It’s the age when you’re expected to start putting your teenage tendencies behind you and try to act like an adult. Legally in the UK, you become an adult at eighteen, although most of us seem to think that we’re adults on our sixteenth birthdays. The truth is, we’re not. We’re only pretending.

At nineteen, we’re more like adults-in-training than real, proper, responsibility-having adults. I mean, yes, we have responsibilities but everything that we need to worry about is still way ahead in the future. We’re only tasting freedom. Especially us students – it’s all just practise. All of the Big Things – getting our own house, having a career, kids, marriage – for most of us, are things that might happen eventually but not right now, so we don’t have to think about it. Some of us might have our own houses already. A lot of us have jobs, and most people will be at least thinking about what career they want to work in. Some nineteen year olds might even have kids or be married, or both, but in my experience for the most part, we’re still only practising.

Some people disagree. When I’ve voiced this opinion before, I’ve been told firmly that no, I am definitely an adult, there’s no getting away from it. Yes. Legally, I am definitely, absolutely, no question about it, an adult. But I don’t feel like one, and I don’t think I will for a long time yet. I’m still learning. I’m still figuring everything out. All of the things that people tell you your teenage years are for, I’m still working on now.

For example, I don’t know what I want to do in my future. I know that there are some things I want out of life, like a career that involves writing, and way, way in the future, I want to be a mum. But other than that, I don’t have a clue. I’m at university. I’m on a very industry-specific course. There are people who expect me to have chosen a path by now and be working on getting to my chosen destination, but I think I’d prefer to go on an adventure and explore all of the beautiful places I could go before I decide where to spend the rest of my life. There are so many options out there, and I change my mind all the time. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of that. The only thing that’s been a constant love of mine forever is writing.

And I still don’t know who I am yet, but I don’t think anyone does, really. I know some things about myself but they are prone to change every now and then, and the person I thought I was yesterday might be a completely different person to who I feel like today. We might broadcast one or two versions of ourselves to the world, but we’re not that person all the time. We act different ways with different people. If you could see yourself with your friends, your family, and when you’re on your own, how do you know which version of you is the real you? They all are. We’re not just one person; we’re many. We’re all growing as people with every passing day, and we learn more and more about ourselves as the days go on.

As well as that, while all of the high-flying drama that seems to thrive in the air around teenagers might be over, my life is still riddled with worries and conflicts and problems, just like everyone’s. I’ve had my fair share of teenage drama in the past. My story is really not that different to everyone else’s, except that I went to a peculiar little school in the countryside where we had to do compulsory Eurythmy every week and participated in Michaelmas festivals where we dressed up as a dragon and pretend to be slain. But even then, I know at least nine other people who have those same tales to tell. (By the way, if you don’t know what Eurythmy is, it involves robes, cloth shoes, and gracefully waving your arms in the air as you float around the room. No, seriously.) I’m more than relieved that that period of my life, when every little thing was huge crisis and I was shrouded in a dangerous lack of self-confidence, is over. But even so, there have still been dramas in my life recently that make all of that angst look like nothing.

My point here is that while I might be leaving my teens behind at the end of this year, that doesn’t automatically make me an adult. I won’t suddenly start reading the newspaper every morning, fretting about bills, and tutting at childish things like believing in magic. The truth is, the news scares me and so does money, and I would happily believe in magic for the rest of my life if I could.

I think that we carry our teenage years with us through our entire lives. We might get to ninety and look at ourselves, and still find that struggling, confidence-lacking, angst-ridden version of ourselves shining through in some way. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that, even when we’re old and have seen everything there is to see, we’ll still be learning and growing every day.

I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t have a clue where all of those winding paths up ahead will lead me. And that’s great. I don’t want to.

Let’s just not grow up. Of course, let’s keep aging and experiencing and learning, but let’s just stay the same as we are right now – expectant and excited for things to come. Let’s remain wide-eyed and hopeful like children on Christmas Eve. Let’s keep having fun and finding sparkles in shadows, and never knowing what’s around the corner. Let’s live for now, like we did yesterday.

 

Below are some carefully selected images of me throughout my teen years, from the age of 14.

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A Pretty Epic Year

Goodbye 2015, what a crazy year you were! Although I haven’t done a lot of blogging lately, a lot has happened in my life and I can happily say that I am leaving the year a completely different – and better – person than I entered it.

The Film Academy crew. See if you can spot me! (Thanks for that, Haider)

March – The Film Academy crew. See if you can spot me! (Thanks for that, Haider)

It’s absolutely bonkers to me that this time last year, I was panicking about an A-Level drama performance that felt like it was going nowhere – but that I later passed with flying colours. Back then, I was just beginning to have doubts about the Creative Writing degree I’d applied for, and the BFI Film Academy course was creeping up on me with every passing day as I remained oblivious to just how life-changing it would be. I didn’t know half the people I know now. Everything was scary and intimidating. I had no independence. I was a different person. Before, the world was too big for me but now I’ve grown to fit the world a little bit more.

Family trip (minus Tom) to Conwy Castle.

April – Family trip (minus Tom) to Conwy Castle.

Last year, I made this post about my new year’s resolutions. This year, I’m not making any resolutions because for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m completely happy with who I am. This is a huge deal for me. I’ve always been self-conscious, caring too much about trivial things like my weight and what people thought of me. Over summer, I lost a lot of weight but even if I put it all back on now, I’d still be happy, and I’ve realised that what people think of me really doesn’t matter. I am happy with how I look and who I am.

September - The girls (minus Georgie) from my first flat during Freshers.

September – The girls (minus Georgie) from my first flat during Freshers.

I think the main reason for this is university. To say that going to uni at all was a last minute decision is an understatement, and I truly believe that had I not gone, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now. I’ve only done one semester so far, but already uni has given me more opportunities and experiences than I could have imagined. Just surviving on my own has given me a huge confidence boost. When you’re forced to be independent, you have to push your anxieties and fear aside and just go for it. And being thrust into a new city on the other side of the country where I know absolutely no one would have seemed like a nightmare to me last January – or even last August  – but now I could happily walk into a group of strangers and make friends. If I ever need to, that is.

November - Out with my new housemates on my birthday. Such a good night!

November – Out with my new housemates on my birthday. Such a good night!

My last uni update was back in September, and even more things have changed since then. I moved into a different halls of residence. When I took the first accommodation, I was told that I had to find somewhere new by December as the international students would then move in. So, the race was on for us to find somewhere else to live. I literally couldn’t have made a better decision when I chose this place. I don’t know if any of my new housemates will read this but there’s a good chance they will so I won’t make this too soppy. I’ll just say that from the moment I first set foot in this place, they welcomed me like family and I’m so glad I know them now. I’ll also say that before I moved in, I barely drank any alcohol. Now, thanks to them, I can probably be found lying on the stairs most Wednesday nights. Thanks a lot, guys.

December - the Morledge family takeover at Disneyland.

December – the Morledge family takeover at Disneyland.

Of course, the year hasn’t been all smiles, laughter and drunk antics. My final few months of college brought me a whole lot of stress and anxiety, and there was the terrifying few weeks at the beginning of summer when I passed out in hospital and the doctor said I’d had a seizure. But hey, if you’re gonna have a seizure anywhere, a hospital is probably the best place to have it! Even if it was the night before one of my exams. The beginning of uni was a difficult time too, when I wasn’t sure of anything, didn’t know anyone and missed home like hell. But clearly, as things have a tendency of doing, everything turned out alright.

And there are even more things to look forward to in 2016. First and foremost, my beautiful older sister is having a baby. We’re all so excited and I can’t wait to meet my little niece in April. Our family is going to make her the most loved little girl in the world. As well as that, we’re also going on holiday In the summer, straight off the back of this Christmas’s Disneyland trip, which is a whole other blog post in itself. And, of course, there’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them coming out in November. It’s all a Harry Potter fangirl can do to stay sane for so long. Well, as sane as I already am, at least.

Christmas day 2015. Surrounded by family and full of food.

Christmas day 2015. Surrounded by family and full of food.

All in all, 2015 has been a pretty epic year for me, and I hope it’s been just as brilliant for you. I am so grateful to my family and friends – old and new – for being there for me when I needed you. Thank you to all of my housemates and coursemates. All of you are fantastic.

Happy New Year!