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Sunday, 3 August 2014

A quick word with my 18 year old self...

My English teacher said to us, her class of 16 year olds, 'You'll think this is funny, and you won't understand it yet, but I still feel the same as I did when I was your age'. We did think it was funny, as she was old (all of 40, I guess).

Yet it stuck with me, and it is something I truly appreciate having learned so early in life. At my grand old age of 107, I still feel like a child. I still feel all the insecurities at times, of a teen. I still feel out of my depth and a fraud, someone pretending to be a grown up*.

All this is normal. For some people, there is no magical age when you suddenly get your shit together. You won't transform into a glamorous, sophisticated, intelligent being overnight, like television portrays.

Sadly at 107 you'll still get pimples (seriously, what is that about?). You will still like clothes that are probably not described as sensible. You will still like toys, not to play with, just to have (and I mean like a playmobil Dakar truck, not a pervy euphemism).

There will come a time when you hate what you see in the mirror, because it is not a reflection of how you feel, just some strange old lady fading from existence.

Even worse, there will come a time when the majority of your friends will implode - there is midlife crises and depression in your male friends, and divorce and cancer in store for your female friends. The calls bearing good news are few and far between. Those bringing death or sadness are more frequent. The worst part, with all this pain, is there is little you can do to 'fix' it. That is in the hands of others, and the lap of the Gods. But you can try. Try to help, try to take a tiny bit of sting out of their pain, try to be there for them. Never ever judge or ignore, as your turn will come. (Never tell them to snap out of it, pain has a longevity we can not measure, as each person needs and feels differently).

So enjoy your youth, enjoy the feeling of freedom, of being open to possibilities. You may feel insecure, or that the odds are against you, but age will not change that. So make the most of what you have.

“Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. ” Norton Juster

Linking up again with #Lifethisweek, because my letter to my 18 year old self would not change 2 years later when sharing wisdom with my 20 year old self.

*I've told this story before, but I love it. When staying in a bush youth hostel, two kids and I were the first awake in the wee small hours. The kids discovered there was a large snake in the lounge room, let in by the lazy teens who left the door open overnight. One of the girls looked at me, wide eyed in panic "What do we do?" My reply, as I shut the door, locking the snake in, was "Let's wait for one of the grown ups to get up, they'll know what to do." This answer prompted two small faces to screw up in puzzlement.

28 comments:

  1. LOL .. That would be my response - then I would have jumped on the top bunk and waited.
    I totally agree with you here, I feel exactly the same on the inside as I did when I was 18. And still getting pimples .. why?
    I am struggling with how lives around me are imploding, the rate of affairs, separations and divorce, nasty habits and disease is out of control among my age group (40+) Is sad and a little scary.
    Thanks for linking up with I Must Confess

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  2. I wish I had more confidence when I was younger - I had so much potential and capabilities yet no confidence. It's taken me years to be comfortable in my own skin - would have been nice to have come to that realisation about 10 years earlier!!!

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  3. This has struck a cord with me as I had an epiphany a few weeks ago that I am indeed still my teenage self stuck in a 35 year olds body... I still have so many of the same thoughts, challenges and insecurities I had all those years ago! Great advice!

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  4. Uuuurrrghhhh - bloody blogger - lost my comment AGAIN !!!!
    I am still waiting to grow up as well. Having said goodbye to K on Sunday I feel like she is the grown up going out into the big bad world and I am the child staying at home. I wish I had her confidence either when I was her age or now !!!
    I love that story - I would be running in the opposite direction, waiting for a grown up to come and get rid of the snake !!
    Have a wonderful day !
    Me xox

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  5. Well said Lydia. All so true. You don't really understand any of this when you're 18, or at least I didn't. I thought I'd have my shit together long before now. It is really scary when you start attending funerals among your age group. It does emphasise how time is a gift. Great post. xo

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  6. My life sucked at 18. It is much better now, even if bad things (death, divorce, cancer, etc) seem to happen to people a lot more often!

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  7. I have to agree with Janet. While I am still not exactly where I want to be, I am glad that I'm not there.

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  8. Love it!
    Love the snake story too. It's the first time I've heard it ...
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    PS I am soooo glad I'm no longer 18.

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  9. This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  10. Hilarious snake story! It is sometimes really weird thinking about yourself as a grown up, even when you've actually been one for a really long time. I often have that feeling about me being in charge of the house. I'm not my Mum...SHE was in charge, I'm just pretending to be!!!

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  11. I remember my mum saying the same thing and I thought that was weird. But she was right. Whilst I feel a little more grown up than I used to, I definitely don't feel as brown up as I should be.

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  12. I'm glad to be where I am. I think you take more risks when you're younger? Now that I'm getting older I don't want to get stuck in a rut.

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  13. You are only as old as the women (man) you feel.

    So if they feel old when you touch them it's probably time to trade in for a new model. LOL

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  14. You're a legend, what a cool thing to say! And yes I agree, youth should be enjoyed and not spent worrying about what others think or how we look, I REALLY want my kids to get this! x

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  15. I'm very late reading this one, but glad I did Lydia. I love your response to the kids with the snake. I think it is possible where you reach a point when instead of time going faster than before it starts to slow down and that's perfect because you can appreciate it more. X

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  16. Haha Lydia, it's so true. And the more people I chat with about it, the more I realise how we're all in the same boat :-)

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  17. I'm much like Janet and not wanting to go back to that era.

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  18. This is so true. I still feel the same as when I was a teenager. Still insecure in relation to a lot of the same things, still feeling like I havent worked out what I really want to do with my life and far from having my shit together. I went back to my highschool 3yrs ago for an assembly and although I was 10 years older than the grade 12 kids there I still felt like I was one of them and I also felt like a complete fraud because they were all looking up to us like we were so mature an accomplished.

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  19. Im so sick of zits in my thirties.

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  20. Time is a gift and one I hate to waste, that's why I never sleep lately

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  21. What is it about pimples at all stages of life? It's just plain unfair!

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  22. Hubster and I have really noticed of late that we get more calls bearing news of death and sadness, than good news ... welcome to middle age ... sigh ...

    Very thought provoking ... especially when I see what I commented last time, not dissimilar!!!!

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  23. It amazes me how many lives are imploding now - right at the time when we should be thinking about coasting through our midlife.

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  24. There's a meme going around at the moment on Facebook about how (when you're a teenager) you can't wait to be an adult and then - obviously it's like a 'what was a bloody thinking?!' type scenario.

    I remember my brother (home from Uni holidays) telling me to make the most of my high school years and I thought he was ridiculous. Then years later I realised it was true. And then when I worked I missed the freedom of my Uni years.

    I think however we reach a point cos now I think about kids at school and feel ill at the thought of having to go through the pain of school and exams etc all over again!

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  25. I actually enjoyed reading this more this second time around now that I've written my own letter

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  26. This was such a great read. I can relate to still feeling like I did 15 years ago, and I'm always waiting for the grownups to come in and tell me what I should do.

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  27. Still holds so true. Love it.

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  28. Such a great post. Thank you for sharing it. Love that you are waiting to grow up. I think I had to this year, for the most unfortunate reason. Thanks for linking up for Life This Week 40/52. Next week: With $1000 I would...

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