When I was young I was free.
Of course, we all were. We didn’t have jobs, rental agreements or hangovers, we were just existing in a wonderful state of sometimes-euphoric mostly-moody teen angst, where the only thing greater than our lack of responsibility was our cereal intake.
Then, one day, something happened, and our longing to be adults who were taken seriously smashed us in the face harder than the floor did that time we tried skateboarding in the Tesco car park, and we realised that all along we’d been tricked into following a false dream.
We were rewarded with responsibility when we worked hard and proved we were deserving; finally being left alone in the house when our mum went to play squash of an evening at age 13 (and inviting our much older and frankly creepy boyfriend over to watch South Park and make out), being given complete control of our own computer priviliges at 14 (and looking at weird sex forums on the AOL chatroom), even being gifted the holy grail of deciding our own bedtime at 15 (and wrecking our sleeping pattern by forcing ourselves to stay up until 1am just so we could say we did).
At the time, we were oblivious to the fact that we were being slowly integrated into the adult community. We were under the illusion that these fun perks were the main components of adulthood, that choosing our own dinners (spaghetti with hot dogs cut up in it) and having free reign of the TV on weeknights (Hollyoaks > The Simpsons > Dream Team > Bad Girls) were the biggest decisions we were ever going to have to make.
Inevitably the fun slows down as we realise that when they start to give us actual cold hard cash in college our mum will tell us we have to use it to pay for our own clothes and junk food, rather than Colin Farrell wall calendars and hair extensions like we were planning to. They’ll start trusting us with being able to get ourselves to class on time but won’t tell us that we’ll actually feel obliged to be there, and that bunking off in the park in the sunshine will make us feel anxious and sweaty, not warm and relaxed.
When you escape to university you start to think that maybe you were right all along – adulthood is brilliant! You can pass your semesters without going to a single lecture thanks to the miracle that is the Internet, you get money for nothing – literally nothing – and can spend it on whatever you want, and people practically force you to spend your time having fun rather than focusing on your responsibilities.
Eventually, though, your university years pass you by and the fun suddenly stops. Everybody tells you that your “real life” is about to start but in reality it feels like everything is coming to a grinding halt.
We resign ourselves to getting a job and go through emotional turmoil from our very first day of the nine-to-five existence, wondering how we’re ever going to survive fifty years of getting up every day and going to work without being discovered and becoming a worldwide star or bagging ourselves a billionaire husband before the age of 22.
We flirt with the idea of becoming exotic travellers like the girls we see on Instagram who spend their time modelling bikinis and getting high, but very quickly realise that we are neither cute enough nor rich enough to kick start that venture. Bizarre job choices become more romanticised than ever and one day you’ll find yourself thinking “I probably could be a professional wrestler” in a bid to settle yourself in any profession that doesn’t involve ever stepping foot in an office and spending the third day in a row helping Neil fix the printer.
We wonder if freedom will ever come again, if we’ll ever be blessed with the familiar but distant feeling that anything is possible, and then one morning we find ourselves curled up in bed at 5am after a really shitty 24 hours, so we call our best friend from the comfort of our flat that we decorated all by ourselves and are actually pretty proud of, and we venture into the city to climb a skyscraper in our pyjamas, buy a hot chocolate with money that we earned through our own hard work, and watch the sunrise over the tops of the sparkly buildings that once inspired us to think we could rule the world.
It’s on those mornings, above the clouds, whilst the city sleeps and you and your best friend eat croissants and slag off boys for a full fifty minutes, that you realise that this freedom is a better freedom than any you ever could have imagined when your mind was frantic and your thoughts were wild.
This freedom is real.
Written by Emmy Christmas.
A girl who wrote something perfect for this moment in my life, without even realising it. An angel.
Follow her on Twitter here, she’s hilarious.