How Proud Is Your Inner Teen?

“OMG so my mum was really nice this morning and got me a new pack of Spice Girl photos and I got three, yes THREE, of Geri on the Say You’ll Be There set. I mean, I don’t pay enough attention in Mr Fitzgerald’s maths lessons to know the probability of it actually happening – but when you have two of it already, someone really ought to have a word with the girl power gods. Why did this have to happen to me? It could have been one of Emma blowing a bubble or a signed one of all five of them on a fairground ride… But no. I’m going to have to hunt around the playground like four times now at least to find someone that needs one. It’s going to eat into our practice time isn’t it? And it was my turn to sing Mel C today! LIFE IS SO UNFAIR.”

Life was so much simpler as a pre-teen. When your life revolved around your Wannabe rehearsals on the school benches and your #lifegoals were to prove to your teachers that you’d aced writing with a pencil, so they would eventually hand over the good stuff – BLUE INK. The handing over of a pen from your Headteacher felt like the equivalent of being handed an Olympic torch. Here you are my child, now may all your words be permanent…

THROWBACK to 15 years ago. Where a 13-year-old me was already going through a rather public battle with spots and my brows had undergone a self-conducted experiment with my mum’s tweezers. In all honesty, I struggle with the fact that 15 years have passed. But that’s when everything started to matter. And I can’t help but wonder; would my teenage self be impressed with what I’ve become? Have I done her justice?

She’s still in all of us. You know when she stirs as it ignites that little memory flame inside you. The kind that makes you feel funny whenever anyone mentions Hear’Say, clear mascara or you hear the Fresh Prince theme. Because even though you couldn’t remember Pi beyond three decimal places you can rap with Will Smith like you were a 90s chart sensation.

If someone had told me that in the not so distant future, I’d be emerging into adulthood at a time where we obsess over our appearance on social networks, MSN is a ghost of digital’s past and the new way of complaining about bad customer service would be via a Tweet, my first reaction would be hashtag what?

As Emma Gannon ever so kindly brought to our attention in her fantastic read Ctrl Alt Delete: How I Grew Up Online, we’re all part of a digi-generation. And we didn’t have a choice in the matter. But that’s cool. Because kids growing up now face the daily battle of Hudson vs. Valencia, rather than just picking a Hotmail email address and convincing your parents to let you use the home computer. Can you imagine the pressure now that comes with how many followers you have, cyber-bullying and #shaming? I for one am thrilled I’m not a teenager in this world of double-tapping and emojis.

Yes, I can say that I had a successful education – obtaining the qualifications that were expected from college and university. And along the way I made friendships for life, some questionable fashion choices and learnt a valuable lesson in creating a homemade fringe. But from social decisions and style faux pas, to career choices and my LinkedIn profile – would I knock the pancake tits off my teenage self? Would she be impressed?

Growing up, I wasn’t the most confident at school. And my battle with Chronic Bitch Face did me no favors either. But still, I was pretty driven and by the time I had finished college, I knew that I wanted a career in advertising. A degree in the said field helped me give that check box a great big tick. So eight years later, why am I still searching for that sense of fulfillment?

Everyone measures success differently. I get that. But one thing we can’t define ourselves with is age deadlines. The world is constantly evolving. And as humans, we’re trained to ride with it. The thirteen year olds of today have apps to disguise their acne arguments. But when I was studying, there was no digital gadget to hide behind. I mean, a pager could only do so much.

Now when determining career paths, there are young creative types that want to pursue a career in Vlogging. I give it till next year before a degree in Blogging becomes an undergraduate favorite, nationwide. Or even a masters in Vlogging. I’m not mocking such turning points in education, as I completely understand it’s a hard profession that requires dedication, commitment and patience. And I’ll admit it. I’ve had Friday nights where I’ve sat at home and educated myself with YouTube videos on the best ways to apply foundation. Or how to get an “on-fleek” eyebrow arch. I have favorite Vloggers that I follow and I look forward to their next videos. There’s a real skill to it. Only my tutors aren’t much older than the version of me I’m throwing back to. Proving that age can no longer determine success milestones. I mean with 28 years of me gracing the world, I am yet to give life to a child. And that’s totally fine. But by the time my mum was my age, she already had done. Twice.

I bet generations older than me reading this will probably argue that when they were a teen, they didn’t have laptops, the world wide web was yet to be claimed and dating relied on trust, home phones or even putting a pen to paper. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT?

As a feminist, I believe such changes in the power of ‘her’ have a lot to do with this. She defines her own priorities. She fights for equal pay. She does what is right for her and her family. She has a choice. She is woman.

If the influx of YouTube celebrities weren’t intimidating enough, let’s shock ourselves into thinking what the next decade holds? There’ll be implications that make life tougher, and developments that make it all easier. So surely if we continue going in this direction, we’re just going to have younger and younger successes?

It’s incredibly difficult to know if you’ve done justice to your inner 5ive fan. The one that loved getting her nose deep into Mizz or More magazines. Oh the irony of the fact that such publications cease to exist now. A mix in my opinion of being out of touch and failing to keep up with the competition lurking online; whilst there no longer being a market for the underlying sexism hidden in articles that make girls feel like boys are the be all and end all of teenage existence. With such feminist triumph that there is today, did they really think they stood a chance?

But if your inner teen were to be aware of just how much of the world would change in such a short space of time, would she judge you for your social networking addiction, online shopping habits or digital skew in your job? Probably not. She adjusted to what was going on around her when she was younger. The skirt-trouser trend, Robbie leaving TakeThat and SM:TV going off air. She accepted it, adapted and continued with life going forward.

When I was little, I imagined that I’d grow up being a journalist. I guess ending up being a creative writer with a background in advertising isn’t a far cry from what I used to tell my Barbie collection. Which makes me one of the lucky ones. But by 2020, a staggering 750,000 new digital roles will need to be filled in the UK. How bonkers is that? Technology has the ability to create new roles, steal old ones, make existing professions better and throw digital spanners into the works that may knock you off track or see you go off on a tangent. But at the moment it doesn’t have the ability to control the future. And until it does I guess we just have to adapt with it and try not to get left behind. 

Because the sad realization is, if someone knocked on my grandma’s house saying they needed access to her front room as their communication device indicated that a very rare Pokemon was lurking in a wardrobe – she’d invite them in and put the kettle on, whilst they raided her cupboards for old jewels and worthy possessions.

Life might not be what it was when you were younger, but we owe it to the pubescent versions of ourselves not to get lost in technology’s dark hole. Because let’s face it. That’s one thing she’d be grateful of.

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