Usually, when I write blog posts, I have a title in mind almost immediately. It’s just one of those things for me — something just pops into my mind as I’m planning, or as I’m writing out the first paragraph, and it fits, sort of. Or it means something, or it’s just a “good title”; I don’t know what to title this post. Maybe because it’s so mundane, something so normal and yet so different for me; maybe it’s because I don’t quite know what to make of what I’m about to write about — either way, this post is, as of now, an untitled one.
This summer has been a new experience for me, over all: lots of things have changed; lots of things have stayed very much the same; I’ve had lots of conversations; I’ve seen lots of friends, old and new. To quote Panic! At the Disco, who have been the primary soundtrack to my 17th summer, “this is the oddest of summers” — true that.
Not that I’m complaining — far from it —; it has easily been one of the best, albeit emotionally draining, summers I’ve ever had, although I guess that comes with age, and an overwhelming backdrop of melodramatic teenage sense of self and surroundings. Teenage summers are, in my opinion, one of the most cliched times of a person’s life, overused in every film, every TV series, and every cheesy (although sometimes not) YA book out there. I was prepared to be extremely underwhelmed, simply because I am not a film character, or a person in a TV show, or a piece of a YA plot. I am me, boring and dull, but me.
At the beginning of the summer, I felt pretty lost, to be fair. Exams — the one thing that I had built up to, prepared so hard for, for the last 2-3 years — were finally over, and without them to work towards, I was a bit stumped. What did I used to like before exams, and school? What did Kel do before there was revision, and textbook exams, and stressed tears because WHAT IS FACTOR THEOREM ANYWAY?! Well, newsflash — Kel’s older now, and 13-year-old me is, for better or for worse, very, very different to me today. (I think this is undeniably a positive.)
Maybe it happens to all 16-year-olds, after exams; we suddenly have to find our feet, and find ourselves, work out what we do, what we like — who we like —, who we are. It’s difficult, believe me; of course it is, because you’re essentially building your life, and yourself, from scratch, rediscovering everything you love, everything you will love, and everything that it’s time to say a nostalgic but well-overdue goodbye to.
If you had told me last summer that I would spend a Monday in early August 2018 at the house of a friend I’d met once, three weeks ago, briefly whilst drinking at an 18th birthday party, I’d have laughed in your face, and then hidden myself away to worry for 12 months about the endless list of possible eventualities. But, in fact, that did happen, and it was a brilliant day. I spent a Monday in early August at the house of a friend I met three weeks ago, briefly whilst drinking at an 18th birthday party (ironically celebrating the birthday of someone I met less than a year ago, at another party), and we spent the day chatting, watching films, and chilling. We cooked pizzas and drank some cider (not excessively, obviously), and I decided to stay for dinner, spontaneously. I travelled back to London at 8pm, without assistance, without a plan, without knowing exactly how I was going to get home. This time last year — this time in June, even —, I would never have had the confidence nor the inclination to do such a thing. If you’d told me that I could spend the day with a friend, I’d be OK; tell me that there was no set plan, that I’d decide to travel back into London at night alone, and that I’d have to catch the tube — two tubes, in fact — without obsessively checking for delays beforehand, and I’d have called you insane.
But I did it, and it was incredible.
I’ve spent this summer making plans days — sometimes even hours — before the event in question. Again, this is such a new thing for me; usually I need time to build up to things, to worry and obsessively plan and then pull myself together again before daring to set foot out of the house. Things have changed this summer, I guess, because I don’t feel like that any more. I’m making plans with friends, both old and new, for spontaneous days out, for trips to Costa (because why not), for parties at houses I haven’t necessarily been to before, in areas I am unfamiliar with. It’s absolutely crazy to me that I’m doing any of this, let alone enjoying it beyond any of my wildest dreams too. I went on holiday with a friend and their family, for a week, and genuinely had a great time; I’ve travelled across London multiple times — often during rush hour — to meet friends, and it’s wonderful.
I think the best thing about this summer has been making new friends, and finding that, despite thinking I’m weird, and having a tendency to think that absolutely everybody hates me, I can make friends, and laugh and smile and actually find people who don’t have to spend their time with me, but instead choose to, and want to. Accepting that fact — that people want to spend time with me — is a huge step; it proves that, in the tiniest of tiny ways, I’m beginning to value myself, and see myself not entirely as a burden, but as someone who can be liked, too.
Plus, the new friends I have made this summer are some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met; I feel I can really relax and be myself around them, and they won’t judge me for being weird, or musical theatre-obsessed, or occasionally very sad and tearful. That means the world to me, both because these people want to know me, to spend time with me and (most importantly) don’t want to hate me, but also because I’m capable of making friends like these, and not driving them away.
It’s been a crazy, but fantastic, summer.