Youth without youth

(Being casual and cool freshman year)

I make a truly terrible twenty-one-year-old woman. But I would make a really excellent middle-aged one. I don’t want to YOLO. I don’t want to go wild. I don’t want to live like I’m going to die young. My friends in high school called me boring. My parents called me mature. I probably fall somewhere in between. Maybe this wild projection of youth is the fault of social media. Maybe it’s the fault of realty TV. But if it’s the truth does it mean many of us are just bad at being young? Or does it mean that the definition of youth is too narrow?

When I was 12, I was in Greece with my family. My sister and cousins were getting ready to prowl the tiny town with an intensity reserved for the very young. I didn’t want to join, instead I wanted to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My dad’s friend asked me if I was really going to stay in and wouldn’t I rather go out. I wouldn’t and even then I knew that wasn’t the right answer. It was the first time I felt I was bad at being young. It was the first time I felt that I was doing it all wrong.

I’ve had this feeling intermittently over the last nine years; the feeling that I’m going to regret not being young in the correct way. But I’m not sure if I think that’s true anymore. The things I know I regret are going to parties I didn’t want to, drinking when I didn’t feel like it, staying up all night when I was tired. Doing it all because I wanted to be young in the right way. Because I was sick of people telling me I would regret the way I was living my life. But there’s no right way to be young. There’s the presumed right way and then there’s your way. And if your way is drinking tea during cocktails, going to bed by 12, and watching Golden Girl re-runs with your dad than there’s nothing wrong with that.

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