Saturday, April 20, 2024

Sentiments of a(n ex) teenager

By Tyrashelvy Villamil | November 17, 2023

Abstract, unintelligible, wild—pictures that my trained imagination could only paint when it drifts into the abyss of the typical teenage crisis. What would life be like beyond 20?

Days were slow and long when I was young. 

The sun was a friend who laughed with me as I played until my skin turned a caramel hue. Rain meant warm snuggles and fuzzy socks like it was Christmas morning, and the future was a hazy dream—like a TV blasting the news in the other room. 

Little me did not expect the whiplash once she entered the real world. 

No child is prepared for the dread of adulthood. Even as we carefully curate the fantasy of growing up as presidents or princesses with animal sidekicks, life always finds a way to loom like a dark cloud.

As a creative girl who grew up with the company of stories that I could concoct over a single song, pictures I could paint in my head based on a feeling, or songs I could write while doing the dishes—I could never escape the inevitable. Trying to imagine what life would be like over this familiar, yet strange, number proved challenging.

In movies, teenage life is often framed as a period of self-discovery. Finding your passion and figuring out what you’re meant for in this world is one of the main plots. For some, it might be true. But for most of us, it’s a death sentence. 

Being told that one must spend this part of life discovering what career one wants to pursue, what calling rings in one’s ear, or what long-term plans one should start becomes counterproductive for those just trying to put one foot after the other. I was one of those people, and I still am now. 

Pressured into the race, I made certain decisions—hoping to catch up to those who already had their gears oiled with plans for tomorrow. Running wildly with the weight of adulthood on my shoulders, I never once felt the warmth of victory. 

Instead, what I could feel were the burns of the crash.

When I dropped the idea of catching up, however, I began looking at the world with genuine appreciation. Walking on my side of the race in relaxed strides, with one foot after the other, took me to places I had dreamed of going, faster than any sprint could ever do.

There is only one message that this ex-teenager would like to impart to the kids who run in a frenzy, chasing stars that they think are meant to be theirs: slow down and grow your own. 

It is not what you have to achieve in the future that makes your life worthwhile, but the stops you make along the way. Life is an entire process, and to force yourself through it is antithetical to the pursuit of living itself.

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