As a teenager, it is easy to adopt that well-known ‘twelvie’ mentality’ – to assume that you know who you are, where you are going, and how you plan to get there.
And I, just like everyone, like to have a plan. I like to think that my idea of life now, and of myself, will continue to ring true in the future.
It is evident to me I was – am – wrong.
I started reading at 5 years old, and writing soon after. By seven I had read Harry Potter books 1-5 (the others had not yet been published) and at 11 I took my first genuine stab at writing a novel, after many unsuccessful attempts. It was an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, a play I had not yet read at the time, based on Australian native animals. Needless to say, it was not my greatest success.
With this theme of literacy a constant motif in my life, my future occupation was clear to me: I wanted to be writer. It was what I loved, what I was good at, and the idea of seeing my name on a dust cover thrilled me.
My dream job digressed some – from writer to singer to neuropsychologist to journalist – and I found myself back where I had begun, writing for the people. Through my work on my blog I had found my passion, and my future plan was concreted in my head.
This was not to last.
My dream was upheaved by a role as bass guitarist in a local musical – interrupted briefly by a victory at a local music competition where I sang and accompanied myself on piano – the show went swimmingly and I continue to play bass and piano, and sing. It’s getting serious now – I’m considering becoming a legitimate musician, playing gigs and whatnot. Completely by chance and by the goodness of the people around me, I had fallen into the music industry with good prospects of moving forward, and while I was thrilled, I was also stumped.
Being a musician was not part of the plan. Wasn’t writing what I wanted to do? And what about that foray into a medical persuasion? Was I not destined to be the academic that everyone thought I should be?
I thought that finding yourself, in a small country town among hundreds of people trying to do the same thing, was the hardest thing someone could try to do.
Until my idea of ‘me’ was uprooted, turned on its head, and presented back to me as an unrecognisable reflection. It was then that I realised that while finding yourself is hard, rethinking yourself is harder. Learning, unlearning, relearning – all progressively more difficult tasks to undertake.
My point is a piece of advice to other teenagers who, like me, are trying to work it all out.
Don’t set things in stone. Find who you are, find where you fit, find your passions and your people – but don’t place all your eggs in one basket. Maybe it’s only me who did this, maybe it’s all of us, but don’t be afraid to change your mind.
Don’t be so solid in your beliefs that you have to upheave them later, as I did. Be flexible. Keep your eyes and ears open, be aware of where you are and who you’re with. Be ready to rethink yourself – but don’t think yourself into a hole, only to have to dig yourself out later.