Thursday, 21 August 2014

On Still Being An Inbetweener

Firstly I'd like to point out that the original series of The Inbetweeners started in 2008 when I was neither a teenager, nor male, however certainly identified with that late-teenage claw through life. Time was when everything was a potential embarassment or fuck-up and you really didn't know whether you were coming or going. Whether it was cringe-worthy encounters with the opposite sex, the endless quest for "cool" or the feeling of being slightly out of place in every possible situation.

I also identified greatly with the sentiment of the "Inbetweener", halfway between childhood and adulthood and not really sure if you want to be either. The thing is now in my *cough late twenties, I would have assumed that my "Inbetweener" stage was over and I'd be well into my adjusted adult phase where everyday life was a breeze and my problems were only important, real things like death and taxes.

I have since discovered that is not the case.

Infact, a large percent of the time I still feel very much like an inbetweener, unsure of whether I will ever feel entirely comfortable in this scary adult world. Often, it is when I spill coffee down a shirt on the way to a client meeting or ladder my tights or some such aesthetic disaster. Once, I actually lost a shoe under the tube on the way to a night out. Other times it is when I spend a whole weekend morning with a hangover eating Haribo and salt and vinegar crisps, because I have still not learnt from my many mistakes, that drinking gallons of white wine on an empty stomach is not a great idea. So here's another listicle accompanied my amusing GIF's, five reasons why I still feel like a hopeless inbetweener...

1) The Cool Thing

Even though I have lots of fwiends and good ones too, not the flitterby flutterby sixteen-year old friends that you adore for a week and then move on from. The ones that will tell you when your being a prick, love you when you're dull as shit and laugh with you at your escapades...Even though I can lead a client meeting and talk about my job like I know what I'm doing, I can plan strategic campaigns and advise people. Even though I have all of this, sometimes when I walk into a crowded room where I don't really know anyone I still feel like a shy bloody sixteen-year-old who's to scared to speak to anyone. Actual teenagers still bring out the worst in me and if I see a group of them hanging on the tube for example, far too confident and aesthetically blessed for their own good and instagramming the crap out of their lives, I will be headphones in head down avoidance. 

2) There's An Old Friend Sitting Next to Me Making Love to Her Tonic and Gin

I thought by the time I was 28 I would be able to hold my drink and not partake in rather dubious behaviour and conversations which I squirm about the next morning. Turns out not.

3) In a Rich Man's World

Are there actually people who write down how much they're allowed to spend each week, withdraw it from the cash point and actually stick to it? I have a job, pay bills and a mortgage and yet I still overspend on clothes and going out and end up with nothing for the last week of the month. Now we are older we have credit cards and more money than we had as students, so that (mostly) we don't have to eat beans for a week. I may have grown up enough to own my responsibilities. However inside I'm still the kid who was the first to empty their piggy bank...

4) Let's Talk About Boys...

My housemate said to me yesterday that she wants to come off Instagram and Facebook because there's just too many engagement pics. Everyone around us seems to be shacking up and getting married. Obvs with muchos demonstration of the fact on social media - don't get me started on the new trend of hash tagging people's hen parties and nuptials. Whereas, I actually still feel about twenty with marriage a far flung destination on the horizon that I have no desire to consider just yet, though that is balls. I'm just as much of a commitment-phobe as I was when I was seventeen and terrified of the male species after my entire educational career spent in an all-girsl school where boys were either relatives or people to drunkenly tongue on a Friday night. 

Sure, I can write me a good tinder profile and wax lyrical on other peoples dating situations, yet underneath it all I'm a scared little girl terrified of rejection or getting hurt. I can flirt and fling with the rest of them, when it doesn't mean anthing, yet put me infront of someone who I actually might quite like and I'm stiffer than a wedding dick. It's just all so aka awkward that mostly I'd just rather hang out with my friends. Pure inbetweener.

5) What the Fuck Should I Do With My Life

I know I'm definitely not alone in this one...  As a teenager you have so many expectations about what it means to be an adult - honestly, mostly centred around the ability to go to pubs without a sick feeling in your stomach, clutching a dubious ID and hoping within hope that you're not the one that gets rejected and lets the group down. On the other side though, you know you will have your shit together when you're a supposed "grown-up". You will know your exact path in life and be following the plan to a T, of course you will be in your ideal job, relationship, house and also be able to cook, speak three languages and write novels in your spare time. Course you can party all night and be a yoga guru, volunteer in your spare time and change the world. 

Truth is there's no switch that suddenly makes you an adult and we should all know that. I would say I have about 50% of my shit together and the rest of the time, I'm still looking for the rest of it.

But actually, I'm alright with that.

My take on all the above is that actually it's a good thing because one should never stop, wanting, striving, achieving and learning. Because if we became static, if we believed we were there, made it, that's me done.. how much more of a boring and depressed life would we lead.

Really being an "inbetweener" means living with possibility and potential at all times. Teenagers are arrogant about the future and the choices they have, they don't listen to grown-ups who tell them No You Can't or Be More Realistic, what the fuck is the point in that. The world is there. We got to go get it.

There are a few more adult attributes that I have assimilated, things that I am happy have become part of the way I live my life. My parents are my friends now and they're allowed to be, I don't feel the need to rebel against them and instead they have become part of the wonderful fabric of people I have in my life. Respected and cherished and human.

I am allowed to be a bookworm now, talking about books, I've read or things I've learnt makes me interesting and not eye-rolled at. (As a teenager I was not unconfident about being a geek, but it was a stereotype to fight)

As an adult, I don't give a shit about what people think about me. Yes I'm still shy, but I known that it is the people I respect and care about whose opinions matter. I couldn't give a ducks what Jilly-random thinks and not in an aggressive teenage, "I really do care" way, in an actual okay, whatever way..

Although I'm useless with men, I also know that I look deep, I don't just think: he's hot and I want him or I need someone to feel accepted. Those people we chose to be in relationships with should be people we respect, admire, laugh with and who reflect the best versions of ourselves back at us. For god's sake if we've got to last a lifetime with them, we have to at least start with that.

Finally, I do what I actually want to do as an adult without feeling the need to partake in an activity, opinion or fashion because everyone else is. Diversity is a gift of life and being confident in who you actually are is perhaps the most adult of all behaviours. 

Maybe half the time I don't have my shit together but I can talk about politics, cook a meal, change a fuse, I know how to listen. Properly listen. And actually, feeling like an inbetweener is what keeps the fire inside me burning to eke every little possibility and pleasure out of life and feed the wide-eyed soul that still resides inside. (teenage cringe)

If that means I have awful dates and a few too many Sauvignons, fuck it.         -   

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