3.45 p.m., 17 December, 2000.
At the time of writing this, I am 41 minutes, 2 hours, 4 days, 3 weeks, 8 months and 16 years old. That is what simple arithmetic dictates, but it isn’t how old I feel.
There are certain expectations of teenagers: behaviourally, emotionally, even down to the way we dress. There are some set stereotypes, and some limits as to how much you can defy those notions. What if you go too far? What if you step onto uncharted territory and you have no idea what that means? What then?
Scratching your head? Starting to wonder? Yeah, that confusion is perennial for me. My personal brand of existential crisis relates to my mental age. Ta-da! (It’s a bit sad, yeah, I know.)
I have never fit in. I don’t make friends easily. I am (incredibly, enormously and perpetually) awkward. I write that off as misanthropy but deep down (there isn’t much depth to me, this is a dramatic use of the word) I know that it’s me cursing myself for not sharing in their interests, it is a way for me to shield myself from an even more severe form of low self-esteem (*cue uncomfortable laughter*). As a 6-year-old, I’d feel too old so I’d tell myself, “wait for them to grow up a little,” but now that I’m 16, I’m still not quite comfortable with people my age. A majority of two decades of not finding the right people has made me unnecessarily shy and weird and just plain awful in social situations. (As I’m writing this right now, I’m sighing with brimming awkwardness because baring my soul isn’t as easy as I anticipated.) Not living up to those aforementioned standards has really made me question myself … but what if it isn’t really me that’s to blame?
I mentioned the word ‘stereotype’, right? Where did I pick that up from? My parents, my friends, school? Sure, but where did they pick it up from? Every line leads us right back to the media. These ideals, the word of God – let me tell you – aren’t actually words of God. They had once been goofy ideas that were probably introduced by some white guy sitting behind a typewriter. Or maybe not… my brain isn’t the most reliable source of information, but let’s let that one slide for now. My point is that it was, once upon a time, a story, a creative effort that probably pleased a large audience and was thus accepted. And it’s still pestering us; it’s still pestering me. My problem has never been how I am (yes, there are annoying sides to me but if we don’t ignore those right now, we’ll be here for several 1000 more words), it’s how I fit in to the world around me. Said world is manmade. I have an issue with these manmade, everlasting constructs.
According to Todorov, once a conflict has been recognised, the process towards a resolution begins. What is my resolution? Acceptance of the fact that some stupid idea has made me feel terrible for my whole life up to this point? No. Borrowing some optimism from my sparse source of it, I would like to bring about a revolution! Well, at least ignite the embers, if nothing more. So, go forth, reader. Go ahead with this newfound awareness of how hard some people might have it, and if you feel like someone needs to hear this, speak up.