I remember being 10 years old, Dreaming about being 18 specifically. It was all I wanted. The freedom, the ‘cool’ group of friends that I would go out for drinks with on weekends, maybe going on road-trips and travelling the world. Being 18 would solve all my problems, and I’d shove my success in the faces of those girls who told me I wasn’t good enough.
I remember being 12 years old, dreaming that everything would just stop. Wanting to get the teenage years over, wanting my family to be OK, wanting to not be the ‘fat girl’ with no friends. I stopped eating so I could stop being one of those things, at least.
I remember being 14 years old, dreaming about being 20 specifically. It was all I wanted. To make it to ‘adulthood’ in one piece, to not be sick and unable to leave my house because of anxiety so bad I’d panic one step out the door. 20 year old me would be everything I ever wanted to be, moved to a big city with a glamorous job (I didn’t know what job exactly, I just knew it would be perfect), the ‘cool’ group of friends who accepted me for who I was (bisexual) and who I’d go out for drinks with on weekends, travelling to Italy to see Pompeii and Herculaneum. Those girls who told me I wasn’t good enough would dream they were me.
I remember being 15, 16, and feeling OK. I couldn’t see a future, I couldn’t picture something clear enough to dream about, but that didn’t bother me to much. I just took every day by day, trying to not get anything less than an A for my assignments and exams, and trying to come out to my friends (that didn’t go well) and family (that did). I learnt about feminism and activism and felt I knew everything, that I had grown as much as I could (I hadn’t, I didn’t).
I remember turning 18 and hating myself. With no more school, no job, no ‘cool’ group of friends who I’d go out for drinks with on the weekends (but I also hate the taste of alcohol, I discovered, and clubs and bars just weren’t, aren’t for me), I was a disappointment not only to everyone in my life, but to my younger self. I couldn’t see life getting much better than this, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I was stuck.
I remember turning 19, and, while still feeling a little disappointed, reminding myself that life never goes to plan. Shit happens, sometimes being sick can stop you, sometimes you just haven’t met the right people and sometimes it’s ok to do nothing. Reminding myself that I need to be kinder to myself, practice more positive self talk and love myself. I might not have been where I wanted to be, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t still grow and learn so I started a course to get a diploma in business and started blogging. I watched all those TV shows I’ve always wanted to watch, and found a new love in comics. I did the most growing in my entire life. In a way I felt I had bloomed.
I’m 20, and my mental health is worse than it’s ever been. I dream about being in my 30s, with a stable career, travelling the world and maybe one day settling down (probably not, though), but I remind myself that that might not happen. I remind myself that I need to focus on right now, of not panicking with one foot out the door, of not shutting myself away from the amazing friends I’ve always had over these years, of being kind to myself, that even though I’m feeling a little more than withered, over time again I will bloom.