I’m a GCSE student: I have the most important exams of my life so far starting in 92 days – that’s just over 13 weeks. And so, really, I should be spending every spare afternoon I have studying – sure, with breaks and time for recreational activities too –, but primarily studying. Today, I have had a very productive day, tidying and sorting my room, trying on some new clothes to see if they fit/suit me, organising my spotify playlists, catching up on BBC podcasts – aren’t they just the best –, and being sociable online.
I have not been studying.
Oh well… there’s always tomorrow, right?
I was watching this video yesterday on YouTube (studying, yup – studying) by my favourite YouTuber, Dodie, about parents. It was really interesting, actually, and kind of inspired me to think a little bit more about the influence of my parents in my life, and about where the line is between their wishes and my own identity.
When I was younger…
My parents were right. I’d never doubt that – they were right, and that was that. They were the embodiment of rules, the source of all knowledge, and if they said the world was flat, then a spherical world was one of lies and mistrust. Whatever they said was true, and I had no reason or inspiration to doubt them – so I didn’t.
Did we always agree? No, of course we didn’t; but again, they were right, and I was merely argumentative. I was a child with a strong will – I still am –, but I was easily manipulated, not that that was a particularly bad thing. I admit that I didn’t know enough about, well, anything, to make informed decisions, and so leaving the important stuff to Mummy and Daddy seemed – and was – the best thing to do.
As an early teenager…
My parens were a force to be reckoned with. If they said to be back by 8pm, I’d be back at 8:05pm. If they said to tidy my room, I’d empty my wardrobe onto the floor, turn up my speakers as loud as they would go, and scatter papers across my desk.
But then, we were all like this at one stage, weren’t we? It’s part of growing up, of developing a sense of self and our own invidual identities. If we can’t rebel, and have our ideas, thoughts and feelings heard, then what can we do? What makes us unique? Besides, agreeing with our parents – despite recognising the logic behind their suggestions and requests – was about as uncool as it got, and all 12-year-olds want nothing more than to be cool, and liked.
For 6 months, or a year, or two years – everyone’s different –, we all spent time actively trying to do everything we could to go against our parents; I certainly did. Whether it be the clothes I wore, the music I liked, the opinions I had, or the language I used, I did everything I could to rebel. Trust me, it isn’t worth it: I was such a mess, just because I wanted to be ‘quirky’; how naïve!
Parents know this, though. They know how it feels – how it felt – to be a teenager, determined to be unique, and different, independent and cool and reckless. And, in hindsight, they know how stupid they were, and how unjustified their decisions were back then. So, they keep an iron-tight grip on their offspring – understandably –, more than anything else, to prevent them from getting hurt by the world. Because the world doesn’t play along with the games of the early teenage years.
How do you sum up the relationship between a 16-year-old and their parents? It’s complicated, I guess. It’s more complicated, because I’m almost positive that whatever I write now will make me cringe and roll my eyes in just one or maybe two years time.
I’m old enough now that my decisions aren’t completely unconsidered or unjustified. I have goals and dreams, and they’re more realistic now, more attainable. I know who I am, and who I want to be – for now, anyway. I know what I like, and what I don’t; I know how I feel, and I can understand consequences; I know what I’m doing, kinda, but more importantly, I recognise that I don’t know what I’m doing sometimes, and I don’t necessarily have to either.
It’s strange, though, because I don’t know that parents always understand that. It takes a lot for them to let go – I can’t imagine how that must feel. But there comes a point when they have to, and that stage is often reached first by the teenager, with the parents kicking and screaming along behind – again, completely understandably. It must be almost impossible for them to recognise the difference between a teenager rebelling, determined to be as different as possible in order to forge a meaningful identity, and a teenager who is finally growing up somewhat, making decisions which, despite not necessarily upholding he views of the parents, are at least justified.
I am my own person now. I’m quickly speeding towards adulthood, crashing thorugh life like a motorcar which has no breaks – but that’s fine with me, honestly. It’s time that I make decisions, difficult though they may be, for myself, and base my actions on how I feel and what I want, not on the thoughts and feelings of my parents. It’s time that I take control, because there’s going to come a time where I have to, where the safety net will be pulled from beneath me. Then I’ll have a choice: to fall, or to fly (run with the metaphor). I want to have the ability to fly: falling is not a pre-written death sentence, but it makes things a heck of a lot harder in the long-run.
If your parents are holding you back – and I’m not saying that mine are –, then maybe it’s time to think.
What do you want? What are your goals, your hopes and dreams and plans and unknowns? What do you love? Who are you? Who do you want to b?
At some point, you have to carve out your own path in life, and chances are it won’t run parallel to yur parents’ plans for the future, and for you as an individual. There comes a point – I don’t know when – where that’s OK, and normal. You have to have the courage and strength to run with it, because you are an individual, and you have your own life to live. That life is yours – not mine, or theirs, or his or hers – yours.
So live it for you.