I once read that life was like a cycle; as you grow older, you start reverting to the way you were as a baby. Martin Lawrence did a comedy special that featured the idea awhile ago, but I forget how true it is until it's in my face, how true it is.
Early 2000 I bought Destiny's Child's "The Writings on The Wall" album and played it out, and a song I kept playing was "Sweet Sixteen." At ten, I was pretty much as I am now, except a lot less complicated, and I wondered was that what sixteen was really like. Was sixteen the year I'd suddenly feel like I knew everything (even though honestly at ten I already felt that way)? Was there such a notion as moving too fast? I decided at ten, I wasn't going to go through all that crap voiced in the song, it wasn't going to be that hard for me.
I was sixteen five years ago and I don't remember much of it; I felt at the time that I was just existing, I wasn't an actual person. I felt that way pretty much between the ages of 13 and 18, that I wasn't a person, but more like an uncompleted blueprint. But at sixteen I thought I was in love with this guy, Andrew we'll call him, because he was nice to me. That was really all it took back then. And now that I look back on it, it happened just like the song said it would.
I was searching for some love where I felt there was none, searching for someone to see me as more than my potential, as more than my blueprint, and him being nice to me was enough. I wanted to be with him and wanted to be loved and was rushing so much that most of, if not all of, my high school experience was wrapped up in him. I was rushing, but back then? Couldn't tell me a damn thing about me or Andrew. But boy, did I learn.
Five years later, I would tell my sixteen year old self 'Baby, he ain't the one, YOU are.' Back then I thought I needed to be in love to feel valid. I'm working my way out of that feeling to this day. I compared it back then like Noah's Arc; I'm that one hybrid animal with no partner, and Noah's sounded the trumpet. Panicked, anxious, ready for the big picture that was the end of all those Disney movies and romantic comedies I grew up on; we'd roll off into the sunset, kissing, never to be seen again, but everyone assumes we're happy.
Five years. It seems like yesterday, and so far ago at the same time. I've gotten a little jaded since then, but that same sweet hopefulness lies under my fear and anxiety. It makes me tear up, thinking about the time I wasted, the time I am wasting, worried about things I can't control. I remember how helpless I felt back then, just waiting for any bit of attention to be thrown my way so I could come up with excuses to be more to people than I actually was. Now, I shirk away from close relationships, fearing the heartbreak, the 'what if' of it all. Back then? Couldn't tell me nothing.
If I could take anything from back then and instill it in me now, it would be that fearlessness, that carelessness with which I lived and loved. Back then there were no eggshells on which I could live my life; I was all out. Admittedly, I threw myself at the wrong types of dudes in search of that "one," not realizing that most of the girls I saw in high school weren't going to end up with the dude they were dating or were miserable with them but were afraid of being alone - just like me.
I'd give my younger self a dose of my jadedness - not enough to hinder my outlook, but enough to make me realize not everyone was as genuine as I. I'd start coaching myself on how to be comfortable alone, how to find friends with like minds and hearts to depend on, to not search for love. I'd tell myself I was beautiful, because back then I had so much trouble believing it, so much so that to this day I can't look myself in the eyes and say it. I would tell myself that I was loved, if by nobody else than by myself and God.
Five years...has it been that long? Where has the time gone? What have I learned since then? When the song came up on my iPod, it still struck such a cord - I've learned so much, so many vital things, but I realize that if I was told back then, I wouldn't have listened anyway - I was hard-headed. Luckily, it didn't make for a soft behind or a hard heart as I've seen it turn out for others. Sixteen...if I had to do it over again, God knows, I'd never do it; the mistakes I'd made, I'd make them again, wishing for a different outlook.
I'm glad that sweet sixteen was a little bitter for me. I'm glad because it lead me to the now where it seems I'm a little ahead of the curve, finding myself and being kind to myself before I open up to others. I'm finally listening to my own intuition, to my own wants and not so much the pressures of the outside. I finally stopped looking for my damn keys. I'm finally blooming into the sweetness that eluded me back then; here's hoping five years from now I remember 21 just as I remember 16 - with fondness, and a whole lot of wisdom in my back pocket. But here's also hoping there are no regrets, there are no missed opportunities, and that whatever bitterness I face, I turn them to sweets now instead of in the future.