This day has been like a doomsday upon my shoulders since the age of 12. The sun didn’t shine that morning, clouds grey like worn out pavements decorated the sky. The color scheme of the cake next to my bed wasn’t too different. I nervously counted the candles and realized that life goes on just the same, the only actual change is that there’s another number confirming my age. So what I’m actually describing is not a death scene, but my 16th birthday. The reason for my anxiety and fear regarding this age is that there’s a huge threshold between these numbers.
Let’s talk about being ambitious. If one were fifteen and did something extraordinary it was valued equal to an Olympic medal. But as soon as the carbon dioxide from my lungs suffocated the flames of the sixteen candles, everything sort of changed. Like an incredible force, responsibility demolished my no longer fifteen-year-old self. Not only with chores, but also with the expectation of having a license, being a conscience shopper, managing one’s economy and planning future funds and retirement accounts (jokes aside).
One’s suddenly supposed to be sophisticated and sneakily sipping pinot grigio under the table, making love like Casanova, figuring out one’s career, working during too hot summers and finishing Junior High. One is also supposed to be a genuine consumer of books, coffee, chia-seeds and tobacco. And don’t forget being a loyal visitor of vernissages, a phone-photographer, a veteran within social media and highly triumphant and successful which is confirmed by the amount of likes and nice comments.
Oh, and also, smashing the patriarchy, fighting for animal liberation, writing political motions are highly expected. Having a fika every lill-lördag, not getting enough sleep and buying plants at IKEA is considered tradition. While having philosophical thoughts about one’s future is nothing out of the ordinary. Stocks? Menstruation? Motherhood? Abortion? Adoption?
It becomes standardized to discuss magical “walburgis nights” with waaaaaay toooo much boooozeee, boycotting condoms, because who gets an STD anyway?? Being a trend follower, no matter if it’s three-stripes or hipster apparel from Ann-Sofie Back and Acne Studios, is considered an important religious act.
Since birth you’ve dreamt of enjoying festivals, travelling, BBQs, singing and having snorkel adventures. As well as having a tan that causes one’s pigment cells to scream for mercy.
When the snowflakes hit the concrete, the anxiety shall come forward. One’s supposed to complain about the frost, the burning hot chocolate, the nasty herb-tea and about the slushy, slippery hallways. The idyllic story-telling about one’s picturesque cabin up in the dark woods of north becomes a daily routine that you and your fellow friends start to remember by heart.
As the fresh scents of spring surround us, we’re supposed to cherish poetry, paint with Russian aquarelles, have regular nosebleeds, spill cheap alcohol (ethanol for cars) over expensive carpets, be over cultural and smoke suspicious herbs while listening to atrociously produced Hip-Hop. Have an entire Marc-Jacobs collection, regardless of that being the most capitalist-hating communist to ever exist.
As a final dessert, one’s expected to eat pricey East-Asian cuisine, wear Gant, Ralph Lauren and the dear Michael K, so that one can be the ruler of the economy-juridical program. And lastly, become an entrepreneur star and turn into a regular at Stureplan. But the dream of having an Idol-career and dating handsome New York- real estate agents will always linger around in the back of your head.
After blowing out the candles of my dull cake, I look within the smoke and myself, and realize that all of this is a part of life, an experience, quirky, stupid and hilarious. The ridiculous pressure that we teenagers put upon ourselves, to fit in and to project a perfect lifestyle, who’s it all for? Do we want to be remembered and mistaken for being just like everybody else? Dare to be a misfit, wear your label as the “black sheep” like haute couture! Because in the end, as Janis Joplin had once said,
I wave off the smoke and laugh. I embrace my newly hatched sixteen-year-old self.
Ruben Stephansson | 10 Mar
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