So I turned 20 last week, and while it was nice to have my birthday and be made a fuss of (my boyfriend took me to Cardiff!) it finally dawned on me that I’m not in my teens any more. However, I don’t particularly feel like an adult either…
21 is supposed to be the age when you get the ‘big key’ to adulthood, so where does that leave me? I feel marooned somewhere between illicit under-age house parties and sipping a single glass of wine with my selection of cheeses at dinner. I don’t quite know what to do with myself. In society, we are constantly told conflicting messages; on the one hand we’re being pushed to grow up and become responsible, to do something with our lives, go out into the world and fend for ourselves. But on the other hand we’re warned against growing up too fast, after all our youth is ‘the best time of our lives’ supposedly. This leaves me in a sort of head spin between reaching for my teddy, or reaching for a skirt-suit and briefcase.
The media is filled with images of young actresses who are put into the spotlight and suddenly develop a taste for designer dresses and launch parties, when I’m sure really they just want to paint their friends nails and tell ghost stories. There’s also the unsettling rise of heels for pre-teens, and tiny little dresses that wouldn’t look out of place in a strip club, but are being sold to 10 and 11 year olds. This pressure to grow up quicker than our years comes from other sources too. Primary school kids now get full on homework, and at the age of 13 or 14 you’re expected to pick your GCSEs, which may well determine what you do for College, University, and maybe even the rest of your life. That’s some pretty big decision making for kids who still play make-believe games and can’t buy lottery tickets yet!
A great example of this occurred last week. I was doing my online supermarket shopping (hip and tech-savvy as I am!) and I came across some ‘Bear yo-yo fruit rolls’. They claimed to provide one of my 5-a-day per roll, and on special offer at 5 for £1, how could I refuse? However on closer inspection I realised they were actually designed for children. Did this stop me from buying them? Well, no. I reasoned that it’s the sensible, grown up choice to buy some fruit based product, on special offer as well, rather than some sweets or chocolate. But those few moments of indecision made me realise that it really is time for me to grown up. I live in a house away from my family, pay my own rent, pick my own bed time, and buy my own groceries. Turns out I am an adult after all! So while I get my zimmer-frame out and pour myself a sherry (is that what old people drink?) remember that you should be proud of your age, whether you’re 15 or 50, but never loose the child inside who wants to keep that teddy bear.