A Teen In Her Twenties

There is something about myself I cannot stop laughing at.

When I was a teenager, my family constantly told me I wasn’t a normal teen. “Normal” teenagers hang out at the mall with their friends every weekend and normal 20-year-olds hang out into the early hours of the morning every night. I stayed indoors, keeping to myself as I played video games, watched television, and browsed the internet. Not an exciting life, but a quiet one. Interestingly, they never answered the question of where a jobless teenager would get the money for weekly shopping trips.

However, I am 23 and I am now more of a “normal” teenager than I ever was during my teen years.

  • I do shop. A lot. Granted, this is mostly due to getting an employee discount from the store I work, but I shop plenty at other stores too, mostly online. I am getting control of this habit now, but when I first got my job and, later on, my credit line, it was crazy.
  • I have a boyfriend. More so, I have a secret boyfriend. Hiding who you’re dating from your family is definitely a teenage thing!
  • While I don’t have a group of friends, I do have one best friend I hang out with when our schedules allow it. We don’t hang around at the mall, but we do hang around each other’s houses and watch anime together.
  • I have a lot more drama now than I did in high school, and at one point, that did include jealousy and boy drama, a problem I never had in high school!
  • I go out a lot, even when I don’t work. My days off are taken by my boyfriend, my best friend, or errands I’m trying to get done. It’s to the point my family now occasionally complains I’m not home enough whereas they used to complain I stayed in too much.
  • I’m more social at work than I was at school. I talk to new co-workers without shyness and while I would only call one or two of them friends, I easily get along with almost everyone.

Of course, having a job is the reason behind most of this. I shopped because I have money to shop with. I have money for transportation. And I can still save up money by budgeting and not losing my mind. Somehow, having a job has done a lot for my self-confidence in more than only work-related aspects.

I know being a “23-year-old teenager” isn’t really something to brag about, but it makes me curious about how I’ll be when I’m in my late twenties. I can’t say I’d be unhappy with a life that has my “sister”, the love of my life, and some shopping and hanging out mixed in with everything else I enjoy in life.

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I’ll Be Stronger

Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m lying next to my boyfriend while he sleeps. I requested two days off for our anniversary, but I was somehow lucky enough to receive four straight days off. It’s peaceful, and the only sound is the air conditioner he seemingly can’t sleep without. Fortunately, he also has blankets.

I keep thinking “I could get used to this”. I imagine times like these as a preview of what our life would be like if we lived together. Of course, I won’t overstay my welcome and I am leaving tomorrow evening. Four days off just isn’t a daily opportunity. I wanted to use it wisely, and he agreed.

However, while I’m quietly playing on my phone to let him nap, I keep thinking about how things could’ve been so different. I think about how I’m trying to pave a path for my life. I remember when I was so afraid of adulthood, yet it gets better with each passing year.

What if I listened to my family, the people who want nothing more than for me to be blindly compliant and stay locked in a gilded cage? What if I followed in my mother’s footsteps, and had a child at 21 or 22? What if I gave in to the worst years of my life and cut my life off before I reached 20?

The truth is it’s an alternate reality that terrifies me. I really don’t know why since it’s clearly not my reality, but it’s what I’d make a horror novel out of.

Writing posts like these makes me feel like a braggart, but since it’s only recently I’ve genuinely been happy with my life, I’d rather write my positive emotions than endlessly complain. My family set the bar low, and once I was out of the childhood safety of fantasy, I never believed I could do any better. Now, I know I can. It’s not going in a standard fashion. I’ve definitely made some mistakes and it will take a while for me to really get where I’m aiming. But I can do it, and I’m not going to be like my family.

I’m unsure if this is a way of saying I am better than them. I don’t believe I am better. I believe I can do better. Although, I do believe I’m better than a lifelong cheating, abusive when drunk, self-centered alcoholic, but I imagine most people would think they’re better than that.

A Different Jealousy

I’m beginning to wonder if relationship jealousy would be easier to handle than this.

My family is jealous of how I treat my boyfriend. To be more specific, they believe I treat him “like a king” while I treat them “like crap”. The problem here is they were jealous because… I wore a dress.

I very rarely wear dresses, but I chose to for our anniversary weekend. Somehow, my family believes daring to wear a dress for a special occasion means trying to impress someone rather than just doing something special for a day that’s, well, special.

In other words, treating my boyfriend like a king means wearing a dress to his house. Meanwhile, treating them like crap was akin to… not giving them the password to my personal computer.

If there were ever one absolute bit of proof that shows how poisonous my family is when it comes to relationships, it’s this. I don’t expect a date between my boyfriend and me to be of any importance to them, but to be jealous over your family member’s partner? To get upset because I wear a dress for one special day instead of all the time at home?

To be truthful, a small part of me always suspected jealousy from them, but I don’t like to play the “you’re just jealous” card because I see it as immature. But I really don’t know what else to call it. It’s not the first time they’ve gotten upset about me spending time with my boyfriend. It’s just the only time they’ve accused me of treating him better than them. They make the same accusation when it comes to how I treat my friends too.

The kind of funny thing is they might be right. It’s not something I can personally see, but there’s a good chance I do treat my boyfriend better than I treat them. Except what they view as “special treatment” is really just the treatment that results when you don’t demand respect because “well, I say so”. My boyfriend and I have had our pitfalls, yes, but most of the time, we treat each other well and respect each other’s space and feelings. Most of my family wouldn’t know “respect” if it smacked them behind the head, and it’s a generational thing.

To give a recent example, my father wiped out my computer. It’d broken down and I intended to take it to a tech expert to be fixed. Instead, he took it upon himself without any permission from me whatsoever to try repairing it, and worsened the problem. On top of that, he had no idea why I was so upset, which didn’t surprise me since it wasn’t his computer he wiped out. Prior to this, he’d used my computer numerous times without asking, often when I was asleep or out of the house. When I restarted the computer after it was wiped, I set up the personal account again, but did not re-enable the guest account. Yet, he still tried to use it without my permission and asked for my password while I was visiting my boyfriend. I didn’t respond to the messages and deleted them.

This happened after a night where my dad and my grandfather had a heated argument that became physical because the latter intended to drive the family’s car while drunk. The car is under my father’s name and he believed my grandfather would get into an accident, which would result in him being penalized. That’s a legitimate concern, but my grandfather did not care at all. Note that my grandfather also has no valid license, which means he’d be breaking two laws. I don’t believe physical violence is how to solve things (my dad says my grandfather attacked him first; I didn’t see what happened), but look at the link there. My grandfather has zero concern for what could badly affect someone else. Thus, my dad, who was raised by this man, doesn’t either.

Those stories are two of many examples across my family. And yet, they still believe they’re entitled to my respect for no other reason than “family comes first”. If I really do treat my boyfriend better than I treat them, I have no guilt about that. Their jealousy isn’t something I’m going to worry myself about. At this point, I’m genuinely convinced they simply do not want me to realize the way they think of and treat people isn’t a positive thing. I figured that out years ago, but the more I get out into the world, the clearer it becomes. I often think about how my teenage self would be horrified if she knew what she’d be doing in the years to come, but maybe it was so horrifying because I was afraid of what I didn’t know and only had my family’s stories to go on. As it turned out, the world outside of what my family made for me is tough, but not so scary. It’s big and bright and alluring. They know it. And they know they can’t keep me from it anymore.

Which Priority Is Which?

I mentioned briefly in my last post I was hoping to move out by my 24th birthday next year. But lately, I’ve been considering postponing that even further.

At 23, I do not have my driver’s license. I’ve wanted it since I turned 18, but I never tried to get it because I didn’t see any point since I’d have no car to drive, and eventually, I forgot about it entirely. Lately, however, it’s been on my mind again due to my job. More specifically, because I’m gaining a growing hatred for public transportation.

The problem here is for the time being, it has to be one or the other: the apartment or the car. I feel like the answer should be obvious, yet I’m having trouble deciding which to make the priority. Both would bring me freedom I crave, but I cannot decide which advantages are worth more.

Advantages of having my own (or willingly shared) apartment:

  • My own living space
  • Living alone, or with my best friend or boyfriend
  • No smoking, drunkenness, and loud noise
  • No one touching my things without my permission (I’m fortunate my boyfriend and my best friend have manners!)
  • Not having to hear gossip or petty complaining
  • Being able to bring my boyfriend to my house almost any time (or my best friend if my boyfriend is my roommate; she’s asthmatic, so I can’t let her come to my family’s apartment)

Advantages of having a car for myself:

  • Not needing to rely on public transportation (except when I travel to visit my boyfriend)
  • More choice in where I can work
  • Less restriction on where I can travel in general
  • Shopping is easier since I don’t need to lug bags on a bus or train (even a bunch of small bags can be a nuisance)
  • More places to go with my best friend and boyfriend (these two awesome people get all the free rides they want!)
  • A small place to go when my family inside wears on my nerves. It’s illegal to live in a car, but not to sit and unwind in it for a while.
  • Aside from an auto accident or something else unforeseen, I’d never have to worry about being late for work because the bus or train is running late (and trains frequently have delays!). I use Lyft’s service in these cases, but their prices fluctuate, so it can get costly.

I’m aware having a car is more than just making monthly payments because there are expenses like repairs and maintenance. Likewise, I realize living by myself or with a roommate in an apartment is more than just the rent, as there are also utilities to pay for. In the case of the car, I still have to get my driver’s license to begin with. Plus, I’m assuming I’ll even be able to find someone to lease an apartment or a car to me (my credit history is nearly non-existent). I fully expect I’ll panic for a period of time and feel like I’m in over my head. But that happens to me with almost everything, so I’m willing to experience that and let it pass.

I’m not sure if I should be deciding which advantages are worth more, or which disadvantages are worth less. I also worry whichever I choose, I’ll regret not taking the other one, but I can’t change my mind on a whim about such a big choice (not without heavy consequences anyway).

I don’t know if this is a sign I’m still trying to fit myself into adulthood, and failing miserably at it, or I’m indecisive and nothing more.

Disney: Life Lessons

I know children’s media in general has a reputation for being educational to some extent, if only to appease what’s known as the “moral guardians”.

However, Disney is my most favorite when it comes to (animated) films and recently, I found a pattern in their movies, particularly the Disney Princess line. All of their DP follow the expression about things getting worse before they get better. Right before the situation improves and the happy ending comes, it’s made to seem like there’s no way it possibly could improve.

And I like that.

Obviously, animation isn’t to be taken as realism, but it’s certainly true in life things sometimes do worsen before they finally improve. Sometimes, people do hit rock bottom before they finally move back up.

It happened to me. At first, I could think only think of two major things where that was the case – my job and my boyfriend – but upon further thought, I’ve been through it more times than I can count.

Before I had my very first job interview, I’d gotten myself trapped in another city due to following a shady job agency I was too desperate to see through. That was one of the days I genuinely came to close to giving in to the heavy depressive thoughts that returned. Before I met my boyfriend, I was ready to give up on dating because I’d gotten nothing out of it in that two years and it didn’t feel worth it to keep trying. Despite the “downs”, I’m very happy with him and he’s the best relationship I’ve had. I had never kept any steady friendships beyond school due to moving and I was prepared for high school to end the same way. I met my best friend in 11th grade and we’ve been friends for five years, and still are.

That’s not to say I’d be willing to repeat those worst periods again, or that I’m happy they happened. You’d have to kill me before I return to high school or anything lower. I’m happy there was something get out of living through them.

There’s another low point I’m anticipating this May, but I foresaw it years ago. I’m not sure what good will come out of passing through, but hopefully, I remain pleasantly surprised. The upside is this time, I have much more support than I did with any of my previous low points.

As for Disney, I hope they do continue this trend of things hitting their absolute worst before getting better. It may not be new or original at this point, but it’s definitely an important lesson.