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9.4.16

Moving On From Our Teenage Selves - And Mistakes


We've all experienced the inevitable awkward and often bumpy road of teenage life. We've gone through the physical, mental and emotional changes that occur within ourselves and those of us past the age of 18-19, have successfully moved on from this wondrous time. Thank god.

Teenage experience is all about making mistakes. It ultimately shapes you to become the person you are as an adult. How you perceive the world, how you treat others and how you react to certain situations. It's necessary to live through and learn from.

Unfortunately for those of us born in the early 90's and beyond, our teenage experiences are often etched into the online world for us to cringe over - and for others to laugh at or talk about, forever. Our generation are guinea-pigs for the internet and social media. Our parents could live their wild teenage lives as they pleased and make a multitude of mistakes, with maybe a week's grounding or a haunting polaroid only left to trip them up.

For us, our teenage pasts can come back to haunt us on a daily basis. Whether it be a Facebook photo that's gone viral or a rumour being circulated, it's meant that a lot of us are constantly reminded and expected to punish ourselves somewhat, for things we may have done as merely children. Immature, misguided, confused, troubled and influenced children.

My teenage life was anything but perfect: sometimes people try and undermine my experience but only I can vouch for how genuinely tough it was. I was bullied in school, out of school and online. Mentally and physically. My mental health was progressively getting worse as the years went on so I engaged in 4-5 years of heavy binge drinking with other "misfits" I had become friends with (and whom, I owe a lot of my better memories to, despite the underage drinking).

Drinking gave me confidence I didn't have otherwise, it made me social and it temporarily made me forget my life outside of a Saturday. It made me do and say things I regret but in hindsight, none of it was unusual for your average teen in Ireland today. I was severely depressed, I was angry at myself and I was angry at the world and everyone around me. I don't regret my entire teenage experience as such, but I do think a lot of it could have been prevented. That's what teenage mistakes are all about though - reflecting on them as you grow older and moving on.

Although I've moved on from my teenage years and have become a wholly different person to who I was, I often encounter negativity directed towards or about me in relation to something I might have said or did as a teenager. At 23, this is frustrating because the person I was at 16, isn't the person I am now. The person I was at 20 isn't even the person I am now!

I'm simply quite sick of personally having to and seeing other adults having to apologise over silly things they might have said or involved themselves in as teenagers. I remember a friend telling me how she's still to this day, treated badly in her hometown in rural Ireland, because she cheated on her boyfriend as a 15 year old. She's now in her mid-twenties. It's ridiculous. If every person alive had things they said/ did between the ages of 12-18 printed across billboards, we'd all be in hiding.

If you hold a grudge towards someone over something they did as a teen, for god's sake let them try and move on from it as a grown adult. It's a bigger reflection on you and your inner feelings, than it is them. If they're making an effort to become a bigger, wiser person than who they were - at any age, might I add - why try and hold them back or continue to attempt to humiliate them?

Most people deserve second chances in life. I've said this before but absolutely NO adult is the same person they were as a teenager. Some people take years to change. Some take days. Let people try and better themselves. If they haven't murdered someone or engaged in an act as dark, there's absolutely no other reason for you to try and anchor them down in their past.

Let this post be a point in which some of you officially make a decision to move on from your teenage life, and to stop giving yourself a hard time over it. You can move on. You're allowed to. 

Let this post be a realisation for some that everybody struggles. Some are only better at hiding it. Don't try and trip someone up to make yourself feel better. If they're a better person now, let them be one. Letting go of the grudge will only progress you and your happiness. Believe me.

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"Well, I think that part of being young is not exactly knowing why you do some of the things that you do. And it's by exploring your life or experimenting or making mistakes and learning from them hopefully, that you start to forge an identity." 
- Stephen Chbosky