Some days I feel really young – as though being a teenager wasn’t over 10 years ago. Others, I feel really old and as though I’m hurtling through life at 100 mph. There are things that feel as though they happened only yesterday and memories that take me back many, many years and reinstate how much time has passed.
I know I’m not “old” at 27. But in my childhood years and my teens, anyone over the age of 25 seemed really grown up and an ‘adult‘. I couldn’t wait to get there – have a life of my own, be that independent woman I always imagined myself to be with a house and car. It always felt like no matter how many birthdays I had, I was never going to get there. Even now, I’m not quite there. I’m doing my best and I’m going in the right direction, but there’s still so much I feel I need to achieve in order to feel like I’ve ‘made it’.
And I really did will my teen years away. I feel like my teenage years ended at 16. I entered into what felt like a very grown-up relationship then and didn’t enjoy my life for the following 6 years. I missed out on those precious years of making stupid mistakes (I just made one big, huge one) and those special times with friends growing up together and entering adulthood as though stumbling through a door rather than gliding into it. It’s because of this I have so many moments of just sitting and thinking, reminiscing.
The other day, I took my niece and nephew to a funfair to get them out of the house. We wandered to the first ride that took their fancy, and I paid their fare and watched proudly as they clambered into a car and a man fastened them in. They waved excitedly back at me – and I was the proud Aunt waving back and telling them to put their arms in the air. Out of nowhere, I was immediately hurtled back to watching myself at their age – running towards a ride and my father putting the money into my hand and watching me climb in. I remember how carefree being young was – and not once did it ever enter my head that I would eventually become the adult watching the next generation go through their innocent years. My niece and nephew weren’t looking at me and thinking ‘that will be me in 20 years’ – they were absorbing everything life was giving them and making the most of it. Youth really is a beautiful gift that we take for granted.
In that moment, watching my niece’s hair whipping in the wind as she threw her head back in glee – and my nephew, who had to be coaxed through his fear to get on – who was now screaming and laughing with his arms in the air, I felt as though a chapter had mentally closed for me. I was now the adult – I was the one giving these new and exciting experiences to our children and hoping they would look back happier than when I look back.
I hope for any young person who may stumble across this by accident – that they live each day as happy as they can, and not to remain in an unhappy situation through fear. I don’t want them to look back with pangs of regret and dismay, but with laughter and a warm feeling of contentment. I am now making better memories for myself and trying next experiences – so that in the next chapter of my life, I can be proud of the choices I made and be happy with how I chose to spend my life.