I Don't Want to Feel Unremarkable



Teenagehood, for all of its wonder, is a complex and intense part of everyone's life. We have thoughts that we can't explain and feelings that we would, frankly, rather not feel. We’re  fed a narrative through TV, films and music that we will eventually get to do all the exciting things we've always been curious about when we become legal adults. We finally get all that freedom we’ve so hungrily desired - and more. We get to kiss people, go to clubs and make memories unencumbered by parents or curfews.

One of the most romanticised parts of teenagehood is becoming eighteen, yet I found my own coming-of-age filled with bittersweetness. I distinctly remember my sixteenth birthday and thinking that I couldn’t wait to be a legal adult; I had such an over-idealised idea of how it would be. I’d now be a woman at university who was unapologetically free, laughed a lot and had all the responsibility I wanted. But as the time approached and I was on the verge of eighteen, I was filled with a sort of unexplainable dread. I had all these questions, like was I ready to be 18? Had I wasted my earlier teenage years? Had I had enough fun? And even, dude, why can’t you ride a bike properly yet?


As a result of social media (and particularly influencer culture) we constantly see young, vivacious people doing incredible things some of us could only dream of. 


My brain went into an utter frenzy when I realised that I would not be a kid for much longer. Even though I had created a list of reasons as to why this would be utterly terrifying, I couldn't help but still feel like 16 year old me, a little bit excited. I had just got my provisional license, I’d registered to vote, I was getting acceptance letters for universities and I was completing my A-levels. I truly felt like I was starting my adult life. This was good. Terrifying, but good.  

It’s common to hear that as you age, birthdays become less and less exciting. It becomes just another day where people are slightly nicer to you and if you're lucky, you get cake. Nobody tells you that the excitement can be eventually replaced by fear and sadness. As the months became weeks, and the weeks became days before I turned 19, I thought about how I’d disappointed my 18-year-old self. My adult life was meant to have begun and I was going to do remarkable things, but I hadn’t yet done anything of the sort. I couldn’t stop thinking about the things I hadn’t achieved. As a result of social media (and particularly influencer culture) we constantly see young, vivacious people doing incredible things some of us could only dream of.

While these people were (apparently) living their best lives, I was stalking them on Instagram in my unmade bed, wearing dirty clothes, avoiding writing an essay for class. I was comparing myself to them, constantly, in ways that I can only describe as being extremely damaging to my self-confidence. I was overwhelmed and wanted to freeze time. These intrusive thoughts weren’t just about me, I was thinking about the fact my parents are ageing, along with my friends and my siblings right before my eyes. Things were changing and would continue to change before I felt fully ready, and in those few days before I turned 19 I retreated back into the mindset of a scared kid. I needed someone to catch me before I fell deeper into a vortex of anxiety and sadness. 

It’s important not to lose sight of how you’re growing every day, and remember that you once dreamed about being where you are right now.  This in itself is a major achievement.


So on March 6th - which was coincidentally my birthday - I decided to catch myself. The process of growing up is scary, confusing and certainly doesn’t wait for anybody. I thought how I wanted my birthdays to be days where I reflect on all I have achieved in the year, rather than what I haven’t. I no longer want to feel unremarkable, and it's possible not to. It’s important not to lose sight of how you’re growing every day, and remember that you once dreamed about being where you are right now.  This in itself is a major achievement. I no longer wanted to be sad about the fact my friends and family are ageing along with me, it’s a privilege to watch them age with grace and achieve the things we talked about when we were kids.

Turning 19 isn’t necessarily a special age; it’s certainly not thought of as a milestone like turning 16, 18 or 21. It’s an awkward, lacklustre period of time that makes you hyper-aware of your own mortality. But I’m determined to not view getting older as something so terrifying anymore. As much as I reject it, it’s happening and nothing is going to stop it, so I’m going to try and enjoy some aspects of it. 21 is traditionally my next big milestone, but I want to look at every year from now on as the next big milestone in its own right. Every year is a significant stage and development in my life, and I want to treat it as such, as well as celebrate my own progress.

I’m going to miss being a teenager and all the excitement that came along with it. Sometimes I think that I could have held this time closer to my heart, instead of wanting to escape it. However, I have chosen to regret nothing. I am grateful for all the laughs, the tears and late nights on Tumblr that occupied my teenage years. But now, I think I’m ready to become the person I want to be… kinda. It’s a work in progress.