Thank Goodness We're Not Teenagers Any More

Editor’s Note. This has been sitting in my Drafts in one of about three formats for a few weeks or months now, I’m not really sure how long. I wouldn’t bother saying any of it, because in some ways I feel like it doesn’t need to be said. Surely the point I’m making is that the secret to contentment is to stop constantly trying to figure out How It All Works, and instead just enjoy How It Is, and this entry runs almost counter to that. But I’m going to publish this anyway, and then I can stop wondering about whether I should bother saying The Obvious (which I think this kind of is) or not, and just do it. Because, frankly, since when have I held back on here before just because what I’m saying is obvious?

Having now spent quite a lot of time feeling like I’m no longer an adolescent, I finally feel qualified to offer a few comments on adulthood. Because, you know, I am just so mature these days and things. There is really no way to say any of this without sounding tediously fresh and young and silly and yes, perhaps even a bit (whisper it) ‘adolescent’. But what I’m trying to say is, yes, I’m still young. I’m twenty-one, of course I’m young. And I’ve got a lot to learn and although I would love to think there is some point at which we can all say, oh, thank goodness for that, I’m really mature now, I know the answer to everything, really, you know, you go on learning throughout your life. As long as new things keep happening, you gain new perspectives on things and you learn new ways of dealing with things as they happen.

So here are some interesting things I’ve noticed.

Getting more organised hasn’t actually been that difficult. I’m not perfect – I still struggle to be on time to everything – but I manage to be on time to the most important things, and I have so far, this academic year (this is obviously a statistically valid and completely-large-enough sample of time) always had all the things I needed to accomplish a given activity at whatever appointed time I was meant to accomplish it.

Friendships have changed. In the olden days, I had a small number of close friends, and I defined those people as the people who I felt I could tell pretty much anything to. We probably spent a ridiculous quantity of time talking about our deepest, darkest, inner truths. Now the people I keep around me are the people who make me happy, who make me laugh, whose company I enjoy. Perhaps if I wanted I could talk to them about my deepest darkest inner truths except, oh wait, I don’t seem to have deep dark truths any more. And that’s amazing. My closest friends, then, are the people I enjoy being around. And that means there are a lot more of them.

That’s not to say that I don’t have feelings. Of course there are days where I’ve just spent a million years in labs or lectures and I fail to see the point of any of it and I’m tired and I’m confused and I’m definitely the most single and ugly person on the face of the planet. But then you get home and the telly and the kettle are on and you just get on with it. Because that’s the other thing I think I’ve realised about this maturity fandango – it’s that most of the time how you feel is really not the most important thing out there. It’s far more important that you get your work done, get some food in, feed the kids, pay the bills, and before you know where you are there really isn’t time for you to get all emotional and frilly around the edges. Perhaps you have to bite your tongue or not allow yourself to stop and think once in a while – but what I think, is that that is, actually, fine. That’s the way it should be.

Perhaps what I’ve learnt is that you shouldn’t expect to be happy all the time, and there’s no sense in worrying why you’re not. Do what you need to do to keep moving and alive, and work to be surrounded by things and people that put a grin on your face. And that, really, is more than enough.



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6 responses to “Thank Goodness We're Not Teenagers Any More

  1. “Single and ugly? Turn on the kettle and put on the kettle!”

    Maybe this is where I’m less mature than most of the human race, but all this sounds a lot like diversion and repression – I’m not convinced that the key to maturity is always about just ‘getting on with it’. I think a sufficiently grown up human should have the ability to ‘man up’ from time to time, but knowing when to exercise that and when it’s better to sit down, have a good moan and empty out any sort of negativity before starting again.

    Personally, I think life would be very tedious if one would never ‘allow yourself to stop and think once in a while’. It’s all about proportionality. Or at least that’s my two cents. And two cents really aren’t worth that much.

  2. I realised that my punchy opening line should read “Single and ugly? Turn on the tellie and put on the kettle!”. Writing fail.

  3. Jenny

    Well, yes, but I think when you’re younger it’s all too easy to spend your entire time almost entirely wrapped up in your emotions and the emotional impact of Everything Ever. I’m not advocating (or at least I don’t mean to be) a constant lifestyle of diversion and repression of everything you feel, but that yes, once in a while (and those are the crucial words) you do have to confront emotions and feel them and clear the air. That applies no matter what stage of life you’re in. Instead what I think I and a lot of adolescents did – or do – was to constantly focus on how everything felt without really reaching out for the tools and know-how to do something about said feelings. Leaving aside for a second the bit where I was ill.

  4. I think it’d be valid to argue that for most people activity and focus is soothing and downtime is not. A mind left to its own devices can be a dangerous thing. Just getting on with things and being busy and purposeful probably actually acts as a cure for the more minor causes to sulk.

    I’m writing here as someone who knowingly spends FAR too much time wrapped up in his own problems. I think you make a good point, I’d just like to suggest that the way you originally phrased it seemed like a rather extreme view (or maybe I took the extreme interpretation).

  5. ukmikel

    interesting post. I think your last paragraph sums it up nicely, that is probably 85% of getting on with life. Yes you need to analyse yes you need to stop and think but yes a great big part of it is accepting whats happening and getting on with it. Some things you can change/do something about, some things you can’t adolescence is in part learning the difference (the rest of life fills in those gaps as you go along).
    Incidentally I notice you are really into the aging process now. You use the words “In the olden days, I had a small number ….” The next stage is “when I were younger…..” – just round the corner now πŸ™‚

  6. Jenny

    I was at least *aiming* to be a bit tongue in cheek about the ‘olden days’ thing – but I was thinking about how things were when I was about fifteen or sixteen or so. Funny to think, though, that that really *is* quite a while ago now. It constantly surprises me how much of my life I have now spent *not* being a child, or in school, or whatever.

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