There hasn’t been a time I felt like I wasn’t in a race.
Not winning, or losing. Just… running. But the difference is there is no finish line, like there is in a race. My mind is just focused on moving, advancing, and trying to get further and further and further and… well I don’t know what comes after that.
It’s not like I never felt “enough”. Rather, “old enough”. Age has always been something I felt restricted me. I’ve never been “old enough” to myself. My mind refuses to accept it can’t control something like age. I’ve never been satisfied with my age correlating to the stage of my life I’m in.
The usual response to this is “slow down”, but to be slow isn’t a familiar feeling to me.
The average age a child walks at is anywhere from nine to twelve months. My first steps were taken around my seven month mark. It wasn’t to explore, it was to keep up with my three years older sister. This was adapted to be the mantra of my life “keeping up”. Whether it was my sister, cousins or family friends, my head always told me I had to “keep up” to be tolerated around these people who were miles ahead of me because their age was miles ahead of me. This made me want to finish school earlier to go to college earlier to leave earlier to follow what everyone else does while trying to be on the same level as them.
One thing I never calculated into my mantra was that there was more than one route on my running track once I left school. I kept running to keep up, but this has left me with no idea which direction to keep running on. I’ve never had to stop and think because there was always a planned safe route I knew I would have to take eventually, completely self-imposed. There was always a system I was good at getting through quickly to get to the next phase I could get through quickly to move on to the next phase.
Suddenly there was a “then what?”, which no one could answer for me. The race hasn’t ended. The race won’t end. The race will never end because there’s always an option to run in, but it’s by my own choice rather than following someone this round. Being told I’m “too young” is a phrase I hear often, and often pride myself upon when looking at what I just ran from. Despite thinking to myself that my mind is “too old” to still be in the place I was currently in.
Another repeated occurrence in my life is getting told off for “wishing away my youth”, and trust me…. I have heard every variation of this argument possible. Please don’t start telling me you wish you could go back to binge drinking, youthful looking skin, no responsibilities, no headache the morning after drinking memories away. I want stability in my life and feel needed enough to stay somewhere to grow attached too. It’s impossible for me to not think of tomorrow. Tomorrow has always been my way forward, and always the place I wanted to be
The envy I felt towards my sister, my cousins and their friends was always their age and that I was always following. To experience life with them was what I craved rather than just trailing behind them trying to keep up to be considered mature enough to be kept around while I watched them be in the phase of their lives I wanted to be in. I’m not wishing my youth away, rather the stigma of my age. The feeling of an arrow above my head pointing at the girl who feels like a woman looms over me pointing out how I don’t belong.
Now that everyone around me is slowing down and I’m slowly catching up I don’t really know how to react. Excited, yes. But extremely scared of suddenly having no one ahead of me to tell me which is the safest route to choose. Possibly even more scared that I still won’t be “enough”.
Mature enough. Experienced enough. Educated enough.
When everyone else is slowing down, I’m still maintaining the pace I’ve kept since I was seven months old. It’s all I have ever known, and I don’t know if I’ll ever reach a finish line where I can collapse with achievement, satisfaction and exhaustion.
Nineteen years waiting for the day that I’m not “too young” anymore.