Another number has clicked ahead on the annual flip clock.
As a seventeen year-old, I rarely (if ever) made embittered statements about time continuing on its inevitable path. And now, I wake up and find myself almost thirty-five years old, wondering, “How did this happen?”
Ask that question to a particularly rational individual and they’ll inform you that aging occurs because time continually moves forward. And, they’ll remind you that it’s terribly clichéd to suddenly realize that you’re older; when in reality, you’re still young and figuring everything out.
Yet, the unforgiving and relentless nature of time has made us obsessed with it. We’re particularly preoccupied with age and how individuals should act at certain times of their life.
There are many blogs dedicated to how women in their thirties should act and dress, who they should date, and why they should already be married with children. In a post called, “Five Things a Grown Woman Should Never Wear”, Cynthia Nellis critiques pigtails and tie dye. About pigtails, she uses the clever phrase, “plastic surgery, not pigtails” and for tie dye, “let skaters give this look a try.”
I quickly realize that Cynthia Nellis and I do not see eye-to-eye on fashion. If the desire struck me, I would much rather don pigtails than plastic surgery. Knowing a handful of skaters, I’m certain that they would never wear tie dye.
While Nellis insists there’s a “limit to what grown women should wear”, she believes that, “plastic surgery is the only way to go if you successfully want to shave twenty years off your face.” So, grown women should maintain their maturity with their wardrobe choices, but should simultaneously use botox and rhinoplasty to convince everyone that they’re twenty years younger.
To understand my personal biases (and confusion) about age, I talk to Megan Abbott, a young and delightful resident of Fort St. John. Megan is seventeen, going on eighteen. Embarrassed, I immediately explain that I feel totally out of touch with the youth of today. Being one of today’s youth, Megan generously guides me through her unique and fantastic point-of-view.
She was born in Vernon, then moved to Saskatoon, and finally settled in Fort St. John when she was nine years old. When she was eight, she spent a summer on her grandmother’s farm, learning how to knit. She’s now an avid knitter, barista at Whole Wheat n’ Honey Café, and takes a few classes at North Peace Secondary School, preparing for her next phase in life.
I ask how being young in Fort St. John affects her. She talks about how the “stereotypes of the frozen north” are very real and how Fort St. John is “in its own bubble.” Earlier in her teens, she wanted to be in a “big city with more diversity” to discover her way. But, continually wishing to find her way outside the bubble, the formation of her unique perspective is just as easy in a city like Fort St. John. By seeking the people who are comfortable in their own skin, she explains, “I find groups that I work well in.”
To explore my assumption that all teens are addicted to the internet, I bring up the phenomenon of social media and how it shapes our identity. Megan responds with, “I got my first cellphone in grade eight, but now it’s cool to have a cell in grade four. They’re always in kids’ hands or on their desk like a pencil case.”
We spend a great deal of time critiquing Facebook. Megan laments that “any jackass can post a picture of a kitten wearing a hat” and that “people shouldn’t be interested in you just because of what you post on Facebook. People spend their whole day posting pictures of cats and puppies. How do you have time to look at all of it?”
A craft-loving girl with a biting and excellent wit, I begin to feel like Megan is ageless. And, I realize that being thirty-five, seventeen or one-hundred and five has little to do with pigtails and social media and everything to do with personality. While time inevitably forges ahead, Megan and I figure everything out, one cute kitten meme at a time.