As I write this initial sentence, only 28 minutes of my 18th year remain. And since I’ll probably have run out of time by the time I’m finished, you can assume that as you’re reading this, I’m now 19.
Just like that. Chapter 18 of my life. Closed and shelved. But 18 has been undeniably interesting. In one year, I have experienced more change than I have in my entire lifetime.
One year ago today. I was in a dying relationship, a fact I refused to believe at the time. I had started dating my ex-best friend’s (ex boyfriend) nearly four months prior. The 17 year old version of me took his virginity and the 17 year old version of him told me that he loved me. Then I went off to University and he realized he didn’t love me after all. In his words, there was no point dating someone that he wasn’t going to spend the rest of his life with. Crazy logic am I right? Nonetheless my feelings for him were less and less reciprocated and on the day of my birthday (a day which has always seemed very special to me) I lied in bed for hours waiting for him to show up at my door step. Which he eventually did, empty handed and tired. Like really man? Not even a damn birthday card? After four months of having sex with me, you think I’d at least earned a couple words on a page. So we broke up and I began a series of one night stands. Not necessarily to make myself feel better or because I was free to do so, but because I wanted to grow as a person. I wanted to understand myself in ways I hadn’t before.
So I drank more, I tried some drugs. I met people who expanded my ideas of creativity and opened up entirely new windows of interest. I made mistakes. Prioritized lust over friendship on multiple occasions. I wrote a lot and I went places by myself. Montreal a couple times. I listened to music and finally was able to identify the genre I was interested in. My parents separated, slightly impairing my dreamy belief that love might last forever and they sold our child hood house. Which left me to be truly on my own, since the closest thing I had to personal space was my own apartment in Toronto.
In February, I dated a guy who saw the world exactly the opposite of how I did. Whereas I was terrified that life might have no real meaning, he used that exact fact to flourish. It allowed him to live and he knocked down nearly every creative boundary in his way. Knowing him made me feel like I was drowning but in time it forced me to face the world that I thought was so scary, and I surfaced. For the first time in a long time, I could see myself clearly. And it wasn’t because I was in a happy relationship. It was because I was alone.
Just recently I met another creative person who considers personal growth to be a huge aspect of their identity. This person values presence above the fear of missing out on life and for that reason, he doesn’t seem to believe in pointless interactions the way I have after every failure or ended relationship. He just enjoys what he gets, regardless of what form it comes in or how long it lasts. As someone who struggles to do that, it terrifies me to meet people like this. But it’s equally as inspiring.
And I realize as I’m saying this that it sounds like 18 was the end all and be all of personal growth for me. It wasn’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning still and I struggle to surface. I’m still a messy person, as I always have been. But that’s ok because I’m not aiming to stop being messy so much as to organize my mess. Messy is creative and passionate and those are my favourite qualities.
That’s why this year I promised myself that I wouldn’t wait for anybody on my birthday. I’m still allowed to feel sad should I find myself that way, but I won’t depend on somebody to make me feel otherwise. I will buy myself a new outfit and go out with my friends and I will flash my ID to buy my first legal drink.
Regardless, there’s nothing a boy could write on a birthday card that I couldn’t write a thousand times better.