Five years ago I responded to a submission calling for “coming of age” articles.
Five years ago I had a voice that needed hearing.
Five years ago I was Nineteen.
Today I’m 24, and boy can I tell you there have been some changes!
Don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways, I’m still very much “coming” into my own, as many people my age still are. Developing and evolving every day, as everyone does; being shaped by those around us and the lessons that life still has in store. Yet, I can tell you with clear authority that: “coming of age” is a period in my life I can look back on with a warm heart, fond memories, and unforgettable experiences but a chapter happily closed, thank you very much.
Five years ago, an adult could’ve been talking to a brick wall for the all the good it would’ve done, I wouldn’t have listened. Many “coming of age” stories go similarly with the stereotypical “I know what’s best for me” thinking becoming the standard justification behind many arguments had. I can see this attitude clearly now, in particular whilst re-reading my previous article.
“You don’t know my problems! You don’t know what I’m going through! You’re not me!!” screams the angsty, hormonal teenager, through the lines of my past work.
My fragmented, warped rendition of what reality used to look like for the modern man seemed like a dodgy video game, having to jump over society’s expectations and deflect the incoming social pressures. All whilst succumbing to the opportunities that I was able to, now independently, judge as beneficial. Today, at 24, though, there will still be many more obstacles that I’m yet to face; inevitably, I know that I’m a highly privileged individual and fortunate enough to feel comfortable with myself knowing that I’ve been given the necessary tools in my inventory to overcome them.
What I really needed back then was for me to have faith in myself. I wish I could’ve told myself to stop taking yourself so seriously.
Life has a funny way of turning your toughest moments into Golden Life Lessons that you’ll forever treasure. From being 19, you’ll most likely be overworked with little pay, you may graduate from University (College), you may be broke, you may be rejected from jobs, you may have your heart broken genuinely for the first time, and you may make some negative life choices, and even some illegal ones. But despite it all, you’ll come out the other end, just as we’ve all done. You’ll make your way out of those post-adolescent woods.
Reaching 24 has felt like a settling of snow in my character. Fresh and untouched, but blanketed from the harsher, more uncertain times that have passed. It’s as though life has found a way to unfold itself around me. Though, sure enough, I’m now to face the real “grown-up” problems; like weighing up whether I decide if I want to commit to First Time/Help to Buy ISA so that I can start saving for a mortgage? Or do I choose the option of continuing to rent? How long is my position at work safe for? Do I opt into my office’s pension scheme?
It’s freeing to know, however, that who I am, is now who I am.
Today, I can gratefully tell you that I’m in the career for me. I’m in a committed relationship with my boyfriend, and I’m slowly, but surely, making my mark in the world. I’ve grown to accept and cherish the cards I’ve been dealt in life and how to successfully balance them. I’ve grown to love my body, my feminine side, my natural masculinity and become comfortable in my own skin.
So, to any young readers struggling to define themselves in today’s wider media-obsessed world: I tell you that you will find your feet. You will find out who you are. You will find your own journey. Be steady; keep your feet on the ground and eyes on the prize. You’ll make it, and all your little pieces, which may currently seem up in the air, will fall into place, I promise.
And would I change anything? Though clichéd as it may sound, absolutely not. Life, though it can be dark, complex, and mysterious, has a way of simplistically working itself out. Know that what happens now will shape the adult you will become, and celebrate that.
You will be okay.
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