Friday, 22 March 2013

Why so serious?

Remember those days, when you were about 14, and you and your BFFs would have gossipy sleepovers, paint each others' nails and talk into the small hours about that guy you sort of liked in your English class. Those were the days. When 'crushing' on someone didn't have to be a complicated, heart-wrenching, unhappy thing. It was light-hearted, fun and full of giggles and the exchange of stolen glances over the top of battered copies of The Tempest, brought out of their dusty home on the floor of the English cupboardThe feeling, seeing someone reciprocate a smile or even a small 'hello' would make your entire day. When did everything get so complicated?

At the somewhat grand (old) age of 19,  I wonder whether we long for the days that have already passed, the friendships we shouldn't have walked out on and the times that were altogether easier to cope with. I recently heard a song I hadn't heard for what must be five years, and it got me thinking of an old friend. We don't speak much anymore, not for any particular reason, we just grew apart as we got older. However, no matter how long had passed, or whatever disagreements we may have had along the way, none of that seemed to matter when I heard that song, everything was forgotten. It was as if I was back to an easier time.  When school days weren't full of stress and exams, when discussions about guys were naive and pain-free and when friendships were supposed to last forever. 

Everything changes when you reach a certain age. Being 14, so hung up on someone you know, getting carried along by the whole Will he/Wont he? argument you play over and over and over in your head. The funny times seem funnier, the sad times seem more trivial and the great times, seem, well, greater, because, back then, a lot of the serious stuff didn't matter. At 14, if you make a mistake, you can, and undoubtedly will, put it down to experience. Five years later, when you're messing up after god knows how many shots of gin and JD, everything seems threateningly serious. You're officially an adult at 19, you can drink, drive, gamble and vote. You can take out a mortgage or a loan or buy your own house. However, at 19, are we really ready to face the world and every ounce of responsibility that comes with it? Instead, we prepare to leave the nest, with arm-fulls of hope, a suppressed amount of fear, and every now and then, some necessary  dutch courage. 

From the days you spent pouring your heart out to your parents over some little spat with your BFF to the break-up of a 'relationship' at that age, looking back it all seems so innocent, so simple. Fall-outs over who wore the same outfit to someone's birthday party or the fact that two people share an interest in the same guy. No real fights, no bitter slurs and back-stabbing and spreading vicious rumours or brandishing her a "stupid slut." At 19, we hear it all of the time; Know Your Limits, Act Your Age, and Think Before You Speak. None of which were necessary rules to live by at the tiny age of one-four. Now crying over someone seems immature, being upset about having harsh words with friends seems futile, and saying stupid things seems, well, stupid. There are certain expectations everyone has of you after you reach a certain milestone.  Whether you fulfill them or not, is another matter entirely. 

Now, staying up all night, has entirely different connotations. Late-teens and Early-twenties are supposed to have reformed attitudes to things. Chasing someone you have feelings for, or in fact, being chased, suddenly becomes something a bit naive. It's like your unconscious is ready, on its haunches, to scream "GET ON WITH IT!" At fourteen, a love life was a big deal for most people, something you were ready to shout from the rooftops. But now, it's not like that. Little things aren't appreciated. That smile, the few seconds of eye contact, the first stages of getting to know someone, they seem to be swept under the metaphorical carpet of life, to gather as much dust as that battered old copy of The Tempest. Now, you find yourself saying "we just kissed" and watch listeners' eyes sort of glaze over, bored, as if they were expecting something juicier  It's just a stepping stone to something more, and I guess, in a way, it is, but also, it's kind of sad. How can something that used to be such a big deal, now mean so little to us a few years later? Cue our younger selves, bearing refreshing little grins and encouraging you to smile about it.

Your teenage years are supposed to be the best and the worst years of your life. I never really fully understood that until recently. All of the fun and the freedom, with none of the responsibility. As you get older, you're supposed to get wiser, but instead, you just invest more, you make more qualified choices, and when all else fails, you make worse mistakes than any mistake you every made as a teenager. Then again, i guess no one can make your mistakes for you, and you can never truly learn from someone else's. After all, what does it matter if, at nineteen, we still don't know when to stop drinking or realise when you're being played, we're still relatively young, so we'll use that excuse until it expires.

(there will, undoubtedly be many more WHMS references as my blog proceeds!)

Harry: I'm not saying it didn't mean anything. I'm saying why does it have to mean everything?
Sally: Because it does, and you should know that better than anybody, because the minute it happens you walk right out the door! 

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