Last week I reached another milestone in my life, it wasn’t anything exciting like skydiving for the first time, it was turning 20. I was a teenager for 9 long years so I had grown attached to the feeling of being a teenager. My most recent birthday robbed me of that feeling. What a bastard! Well, I could be one of those people that goes around saying things like, “Oh me? No I’m still a teenager, I’m twenteen.” But I’m not a dick so I won’t.
Even though people say that is age is only a number and doesn’t define you, I can’t help but feel like it does. When older people reminisce they gloss over anything foolish or dangerous they did with a unpertubed comment like, “I was a teenager back then so it was alright.” Does this mean that any mistakes I make from now on can’t be passed off as teenage frivolity any more? If so, then surely I should feel more mature and ready for life than I already do. I just about keep my life together, but it’s nothing short of a miracle that something catastrophic hasn’t happened to me. I’ll be the first to say that I drink too much, that’s if my parents don’t jump in before me to tell EVERYONE first (side note: when discussing my drinking habits, it is definitely an overexaggerated statement to describe my ‘relationship with alcohol as abusive’. Honestly- an abusive relationship with alcohol? Where the hell do you get those lines from?). Other faults include limited culinary skills, inappropiate humour at the most inappropiate of times and a clumsiness that I’m certain will be the death of me.
Twenty is an age when you should start to really think about your future and start acting like a man. I’m enrolled on a three year degree programme and start my second year next week, yet any time someone asks me what I want to do after I graduate my mind draws a blank. Not a clue. Although it is funny when at large gatherings, and everyone only comes over armed with the same set of questions, to tell people different professions that you actually have no desire to do whatsoever. I’m pretty sure I have a uncle in Ireland who seriously believes that when I graduate I’m going to start my career in fishing. Perhaps this wouldn’t be as frustrating if everyone else was in the same boat, but I know a lot of people who have known for years what they want to be and have their hearts set on it.
Everyone knows that the biggest step into manhood is growing a decent set of facial hair. This point cannot be argued. I fail at this on a level that is so awful it is difficult to imagine. I’ve walked past thirteen year old boys with a better attempt at a moustache and beard than my own. It’s a little embarassing. Don’t get me wrong, I think facial hair is disgusting. Yes it makes people look more manly and a lot of people look good with it, but the thought of having that much hair growing all over my face scares me. Even if I could grow a proper beard I’d stay clean shaven. I just want the choice to be clean shaven to be one I take because I prefer being clean shaven, not because I can’t grow a beard. A testament of how not ready I am to be 20 happened only last week. Everyone in my house was away for the day meaning I had the entire day to myself. What did I chose to do? I sat in front of a mirror with a black pen and drew tiny dots all over the bottom half of my face. All of this just to see what I’d look like with stubble! (For the record, I’d look amazing. Seth Rogen-esque if you will.)
Although everyone knows that a real man has hair growing on the back of his hands and up until a fortnight or so ago not even a whisker was visible on mine. Fast forward to today and it’s slowly advancing up from my arm to hand. You’ve got to take all the small victories life gives you. Even if it is just a set of hair on your hands that no one can really see unless they’re uncomfortably close to you.
Awkwardness is a stage in life that I’ve been assured that everyone grows out of eventually. However I’ve now reached 20 and still struggle, I’m starting to think I might be the exception. You know, everyone has their weaknesses and mine just happens to be perpetual lack of confidence. This means that large gatherings with a lot of people are a nightmare for me. A load of forced conversation with people I don’t know. It wouldn’t be so bad if everyone you met was a delight. Unfortunately it seems that the majority of people I have met are seldom interesting and on even more rare occasions funny. But the alternative to talking to these people is being alone and nobody wants that.
It’s not just an awkwardness in speaking, but self-consciousness on a larger scale. Hand on heart, one of the bravest things I think I do is sit at a bar on my own. Just for clarification, I don’t make drinking alone a frequent occurence. I don’t have the steel to sit for an entire evening on my own in front of a crowded bar. The only time this happens is when I’ll be waiting for someone to join me. The reason why it’s so scary is because you know right at that moment you’re being judged. You see, when people look across and see a good-looking person at the bar, they’ll assume they must be waiting for someone, most probably a date. In their heads, they think this is the type of person who must get hit on at bars all the time. No sense of loneliness or patheticness whatsoever. Now when people see me at a bar… They’re not thinking those things. There’s not a chance in hell you’re waiting for a date. When people see an ugly person alone at a bar they’re only thinking one thing. Alcoholic.
Jessie Rosen writes a fantastic blog called ’20 Nothings’ which she is in the process of trying to turn it into a television show. I’m sure her adaption from her life stories will be thought-provokingly funny with witty dialogue. If my life right now was to be made into a television show, it’d be a mix of a farce and slapstick. When some people think ‘Miranda’ is too silly and unrealistic, I just give them a look that screams, “Well you haven’t met me have you?”
So here’s to the journey to 21 and the road to manhood. It’s only after typing it that I’ve realised ‘the road to manhood’ is a little bit innuendo-ey and made me giggle. So here’s to 21; the age where simple sexual jokes and words like penis won’t be as hilarious as they are now.