Sweet sixteen and we had arrived
The similarities between my life and the Lana Del Rey song ("This Is What Makes Us Girls") ends with the blog post's titular line, but I like the song...
"Sweet sixteen and we had arrived
Walking down the streets as they whistle, "Hi, hi!"
Stealin' police cars with the senior guys
Teachers said we'd never make it out alive"
It continues in that vein. But don't worry, I'm not going to model my life here on out after Lana's narrator (much as I find "stealin' police cars" and "drinking cherry schnapps at the local dive" to be intellectually engaging pursuits). The cultural significance of sixteen has a lot to do with the tradition of cotillion balls (thank the deep South for that)--the idea that you "made your debut" at this age. Clearly, I made my debut--albeit one of a different sort--a bit earlier. Which leads me to write this.
One of my best friends wrote on my wall that I was too young, and that she was happy I was getting older. Eerily enough, those have been my thoughts exactly since I was as young as I can remember--always sick of being two years younger than most of my friends, wanting to have some sense of "catching up." When one of my classmates assumed I was turning 17, I didn't correct her. Life would be simpler without stating my age being cause enough for double takes, questions, or the occasional statement of "You're so ADORABLE" (okay, I'll face it, that one ain't going away no matter how old I get. A pity). Oh well.
I once wrote an essay critiquing "growing up fast"--how its negative portrayal is misleading, and how it's one of the best things, in reflection, about my life. I also wrote an essay (incidentally, they were both rough drafts for college apps) about realizing that I'd never really finished growing up, even when I thought I had--ending with "In the hubris of an accelerated life, even one in which my age was touted in the background of any accomplishment, I had managed to forget just how very young I was."
Which brings me to, finally, another quote--which I seem to use on every birthday, but it finally works now, because the protagonist who uttered it was actually 16, too. In The Education:
Miss Stubbs: You seem to be old and wise.
Jenny: I feel old. But not very wise.
Wisdom doesn't come wrapped up in paper and tied with a bow; it's not something we can assign based on the number of birthdays someone has had. Making too many assumptions about anyone based on their age is lazy--age isn't a failsafe way to catalog the experiences an individual has had. In truth, that sixteen--or six-year-old--you're looking at may have seen "more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy" (yes, totally ripping a noncontextual quote from Hamlet, but stealin' from the Bard = the closest I'm getting to Lana Del Rey stuff-of-songs badassery. ;)
So. Yes, I'm 16. Time to own it.