Still Really Young
This guest post graciously submitted and re-posted by Kate Fridkis, from Eat The Damn Cake.
For my whole life, I’ve been like, “Well, this sucks. I’ve pretty much amounted to nothing.”
“Another year gone and I have accomplished nothing for the history books or even meritorious of a footnote.” (That’s me on my fifth birthday.)
Which is weird, because you can’t say that until you’re dying. And even then, you’re probably wrong.
I always feel like I’m too old.
I think we live in a pushy world (and by we I mostly mean people with enough money to be in that demographic that is defined by its college attendance). I remember when kids were devastated because they didn’t get into an Ivy League college, back when we were 17. I remember when I was sixteen and this thirteen-year-old kid was flipping out at me, yelling, “I got a higher SAT score than you! I don’t even have to know your score to know mine was higher!”
I don’t remember what I did to offend him. I hadn’t even taken the SAT yet.
And then you go to college and you graduate and you’re supposed to have this career. If you don’t then you’re lazy or a rebellious dreamer or being screwed by the economy and the New York Times will publish five thousand articles, one after the other, about your generation and how fascinatingly doomed and creative and spunky and immature you all are. And how you live in your childhood bedroom with pink bunny wallpaper on all four walls but you have this famous blog so it’s ok!
It’s been very clear to me for a very long time that I had to make something of myself. Especially as a young woman. Because we have that chance now. We can’t just give up and become moms or something lame like that. Or if we do, we have to be able to defend it really articulately. Or, even better, write a famous blog about it.
No one is ever “just a mom” anymore. I mean, they are, of course, but I don’t see them. I read a woman’s bio on her site the other day and it was like “Prolific author, national speaker, blogger, organizer, entrepreneur, founder of three companies, commentator on several radio shows, and, of course, mother and wife!”
And that is not uncommon.
I have this deathly fear that one day my bio will say “…of course, mother and wife!”
There are more girls than boys in college now. There are still not nearly enough female CEOs. There is like one single female hedge fund manager. We obviously need more women politicians so that if the word “vagina” comes up in a congressional hearing or something people won’t faint and claw their eyes out and petition to have the person who uttered the word burned to death at the nearest stake. We need more women Supreme Court justices, maybe so that we could have about half men and half women. That seems, well, just.
And we can get there! If we all do our part!
This is just the beginning! We’re amazing! We’re capable! We are getting all sorts of engineering scholarships! Let’s do this!
(we understand this. source)
I have always wanted to do this. Even when it was also making me feel like I was never good enough. Even when I was jealous of everyone ahead of me and slightly disdainful towards everyone behind me and absolutely sure of what “ahead” and “behind” looked like. Even when I was pretty sure that if I didn’t keep getting ahead quickly, I’d basically suck in every way. I’d basically have failed at existing. I’d basically have wasted every breath of air I’d ever drawn into these lungs I was lucky enough to be born with so that I could run across the friggin’ finish line.
I never remember that I am young.
And the other day I was talking with Bear’s dad, who is this famous professor with a big beard and an arsenal of hilarious stories, and I was telling him about how nervous I was about accomplishing this and that and the other thing because it was really important that I accomplish these things RIGHT NOW and he was like, “I used to hate it when people said this to me, and I really don’t want to be condescending at all, but I have to say this: you are really young.”
And this enormous wave of relief hit me.
Oh my god, I thought, I’m really young.
I’m really young!
Who knows what I will do! I barely even know myself yet!
I think we live in a showy world. We’re closer than ever to our idols. Sometimes they tweet back at us! We have a chance at things the masses never did before. Like winning reality show contests that get us record deals and modeling deals and the perfect body. Our comments are RIGHT under the end of the article where a brilliant writer has concluded. Sometimes the line between the writing and the commenting is so fine that I miss it completely. I think I’m still reading the carefully edited part, but it’s some guy who’s already yelling that this is stupid and suggesting painful-sounding places for the writer to shove things.
Here in NYC, I am closer to the authors I read as a child and the young people the New York Timesprofiled so curiously. A young woman rises to sudden internet fame, one of my friends is already friends with her. Lena Dunham makes an HBO TV show, everyone went to school with her, or sees her in their neighborhood. My friend’s friend sort of dated one of the guys in the show, and my friend thinks he’s annoying, since she has to hang out with him a lot.
We are so close to what we are supposed to be that we can almost reach out and touch it.
And sometimes I think we’re supposed to be everything, since we have been given so many chances.
But I am young, apparently. I have other chances. More time.
OK, I’m actually pretty young.
Bear’s dad says I’m young. So I might be.
And I might be for a while.
And when I’m finally not, I hope I will have enjoyed the time that I was young, when my body was all springy and cooperative and I could have sex in so many different positions and I could walk up a flight of stairs without any trouble at all.
Along the way, I will probably accomplish things. I probably already have. And probably, by the time I’m not young anymore, I will have some totally different things to care about.
Take that, pushy world!
And yes, that kid probably got a higher score than me on the SAT. But really? I’ve done OK. I still remember this: zenith, apex, apogee.
I have some time to get to them.
(too soon. source)
* * *
Unroast: Today I love the way I have grown increasingly willing to not wear sleeves.