I once thought that when I reached 16 I’d have it all figured out. I’d know how to get rid of all my body hair for good, I’d have a beautiful hairstyle every day and I’d be Grown Up. I’d be a fully formed, perfect person. When I was 16 I thought I’d find it by 18. When I was 18 I started to realise that maybe I’d never get there. A part of me still thought that 21 would be that magic age. Now I’m less than a month off turning 21 and I don’t have anything figured out.
I remember I used to think of my future self as an entirely different person than myself. Particularly before I went to university, I knew that great change was coming and I saw myself then and my future self as completely different people, as if I could look up to my future self and have a relationship with her. Unsurprisingly, I found, after my first year at university, that I felt remarkably similar to the girl who a year a go was dreaming about her future.
At that time, I still had all the important people in my life that I’d thought I’d probably grow out of. I was still the same me that I was before I started university. I was surprised.
I realised that we don’t grow suddenly and quickly become someone new, we just develop layers. At the age I am, I’m still in a transition from teenager to adult. I think I’m nearing the end of the transition but I know that the end of that change won’t be a sudden thing. I won’t wake up one day and find that I’m an adult, yesterday I wasn’t. My teenage self will always be a part of me.
Now I see it more like layers. My 16 year old self is inside of me, along with my 12 year old self and my 5 year old self and every other version of myself I’ve ever been. With experience and change comes layers. I am wholly new and wholly the same all at once because layers have been added. We grow slowly, adding layers upon layers as we move along the journey. I wonder what layers are to come.