Disclaimer: my knowledge of philosophy has been absorbed purely through osmosis and brief definitions given in English lessons to explain poetic movements. Therefore I might not actually be talking about existentialism. Please don’t feel the need to correct me. It won’t make any difference.
So. In five days, I’m going to be nineteen years old.
This is mildly terrifying to me. I am a child. I will fight you if you call me a child, but the fact is I still think of myself as one quite a lot of the time, even when I’m buying my own groceries, cooking my own meals, and doing my own laundry. (Doing my own washing up, however, seems currently to result in broken glasses, which is not ideal.) And 19 is definitely not child-aged. 18 is when you become an adult, you know, being legally able to vote and drink and get married and things like that. 19 is when people assume you know what you’re doing and leave you to get on with it.
Which is SUCH A BAD IDEA.
And nineteen is awfully close to twenty, which is one fifth of a century, and it would mean I wasn’t a teenager anymore, and if I’m already turning nineteen then that means I’m nearly twenty and then that’s two thirds of the way to thirty and very soon I’ll be old or even DEAD.
And when you look at it like that, time seems to be passing awfully quickly and you begin to wonder what’s the point of anything if very soon it’ll all be over and everyone will be dead and no one will remember you and all of this has no purpose and we’re just living day after day because we don’t know what else to do but actually the truth is that life has no meaning and and and and —
Possibly my malfunctioning kettle / fusebox is getting to me, because the lack of tea in my life is really very distressing and makes everything seem even less meaningful. Because yes. I may be a child but I have to deal with my own electricity problems and I do not know how to fix this particular problem (changing the fuse doesn’t help, I tried that last time) so I’m stuck with minimal tea. It’s terribly unfair.
It’s even more unfair because I invited people over for tea and biscuits on Thursday so that they could distract me from the looming abyss of growing up, and now I’m not sure I’m going to be able to offer tea in any practical manner other than going back and forth through several heavy doors to the kitchen and attempting not to spill boiling water on myself as I bring it back to my room to make tea. So we might all have to face the ageing problem without any caffeine or camomile, and that’s just too horrifying to consider.
This is possibly the point where I run away to join the circus. Or to find Neverland. Either is looking like a pretty good option.
Growing up really scares me. A lot of things scare me. I experience daily terror about the meaning of life and whether anything has a point and if we’re all going to die anyway why are we bothering; I’m pretty sure there’s a part of everyone’s brain that distracts us from those questions, and depression is when it stops working, so when I have particularly bad mental health days I’m overwhelmed by them to the point of being unable to function. The rest of the time they’re just a niggling question at the back of my mind that I do my best to ignore.
Frank Turner has a song with the lines
Work weeks make us weary now and school’s a distant memory
and it’s easy to ask questions of ourselves, like:
where it is we’re going now and what we have to show for all the sunny days
shut up in the shells of expectations of our ultimate directions,
and the stations that we should have reached by now,
when we haven’t read the script and our tender wings are clipped,
and we’re scared we might be letting someone down.
and I think that sums up a lot of my feelings. The stations that we should have reached by now — all the things I wrote in my journal that I was going to achieve in 2014, all the things I dreamed I’d manage before I was eighteen, all the deadlines I set for myself when I was sixteen, the goals I worked towards at thirteen: things I haven’t completed, achieved, reached.
The publishing aims and the writing goals and the schedules and the wordcounts and the list of agents to query and the vlog ideas that I never filmed and the blog posts I didn’t write and all the readers I don’t have and the grades I didn’t achieve and the people I’m not, the people I’m not, the people I’m not: the people I promised myself I’d become that I’ve never even seen.
The older I get without fulfilling my aims (‘traditional publishing deal by 18’ ‘get my grade eight violin’ ‘learn to do fouette turns’ ‘figure out who I am’), and the more I see my younger friends exploring themselves and life in a way I never even considered when I was their age, the more overwhelmed I am by the passing of time and the seeming futility of trying to keep up with it.
And because I’m trying to figure out how to have a tea party without a functioning kettle or a teapot, it’s on my mind. I’m going to be nineteen. What have I got to show for it?
Growing up is terrible. 2/102 would not recommend. Don’t do it.
Anyone else out there struck by pure existential dread several times a month/week/day? Come and talk to me. We can hang out and cry about the pointlessness of life together. But I’m afraid there’s no tea on offer. Because, you know, I’m cursed with breaking every kettle I own and all that.
1: looking at these pictures really makes me wonder how nobody figured out I was anaemic for such a long time
2: it’s 2/10 and not 0/10 is because once you’re 18 you can do important things like setting your Goodreads profile to public or legally buying Hannibal on DVD