I am eighteen. I am not longer a child and now have to have responsibilities. Responsibilities I have not thought of yet and will not until the last minute. One advantage that should be the case when turning into an adult is being treated with more respect. I remember in school, the teachers used to make me feel worthless, they used to scream at me when I showed emotion and I never knew the reasoning behind it. They expected me to always wear the puppet strings but I never had them attached in the first place. No one could control me. Everyone has emotions and expressions, so why belittle that? Since then, I am programmed to believe that crying is a sign of weakness, a sign of needing help or a sign that I just can’t cope anymore. Now I am eighteen, does this change? Does a number and reaching adulthood really make a difference in this judgmental world? So far I have yet to see any difference. People don’t care that I’m older, wiser or even a bit prettier. I don’t feel any different now I am eighteen. I can drink. Yes. I have control of my life. Yes. But who wants to wish their childhood away? I miss not worrying about everything. I worry to the point where I have to stop myself from ringing all my loved ones if I don’t get a reply, or if they are late home. My father was the same. It’s funny how the psychological attributes can be passed along the family chain. I miss the support of my family and relying on someone. Now I just feel alone. Eighteen should be the age where I grow up and finally know what I am doing. But I don’t. There is too much pressure on the future when all I want to do is go back to the past and relive some of the moments that I took for granted. Such as, being honest when a relationship wasn’t working, or trying too hard to be what someone else wants and in the process losing myself. There is so much more to learn at eighteen, nineteen and even twenty. Maybe then I will find the answers to the unanswered questions.
As a child I was shy. I would cover my eyes when people sang ‘happy birthday’, I was embarrassed by the attention on myself and wishing someone else could share my special day with me. Although, as birthdays went on, I found myself enjoying the occasion, inviting my friends round for trampoline, swimming and roller skating parties.
However, at eighteen, a milestone in people’s eyes, I was unsure of who I was, afraid of what people thought and ultimately terrified of the future. I wasn’t a child anymore.
That was different when I was five, I used to jump into the sea with my clothes on and my parents shouting at me to come in before the tide swept me away. I remember etching the mud with sticks and creating art with the surroundings. My imagination was always my best attribute. Yet as time went on, I lost myself. I lost the child within me, and focused so much on growing up, that one day I looked in the mirror and shocked myself. I didn’t laugh the way I used to on holidays, I never cried. I was numb to emotion. Numb to the people who left and the people who hurt me. Torturing myself by looking back to the past wishing I could redo moments, or erase them completely.
My twenties were the best days of my life; I was still young, managed to lose the weight and was finally comfortable in my own skin. Finally. However, I was more confused than ever.
Mid-twenties and into my thirties I watched as my friends found love, got married and had beautiful children. I didn’t want that. I wanted to travel and experience life to its core. I didn’t want to be in one place and be suffocated by the lifeless surroundings.
By my mid-thirties my family were asking the question “When are you going to think about settling down?” they chorused, niggling at the itch that I would never scratch. You see, I never believed that everyone should follow a convention, or have the same aspirations or life plan. I’d lose myself completely otherwise. Yet by forty, I did just that. I married, had two children that I adore. It’s funny isn’t? How one day everyone caves in for the sake of a number. A number telling you that your time is slowly wasting away, like sand in an hourglass, softly and slowly until suddenly you have nothing left.
I made the most of my time in my fifties and sixties, and by some miracle, I was still with my husband up until he died at 89. But now in my hospital bed, with my children beside me, married with their own children, careers, and a life, I write my memories down and I find myself smiling. What a life I whisper under my breath. What a life.