18, 18 years of age. What comes before 18? 17, right? Well to me there’s a whole lot more that has come before my idea of the number ’18’. I have recently just turned 18 and if I had to describe the past few years leading up to being 18 i’d say they were some of the challenging years of my life.
They say in life you have a destined path to follow, for some this path is like a yellow brick road. A road with interruptions and obstacles, setbacks and big breaks within. To me, at the age I am, i’m just beginning my journey along my path. A path which I have no idea where it will lead me. Yes I have some control over my journey and the steps I take everyday but a lot of what happens I have no control over. Some things in my life have happened without reason or have happened by accident or even with some luck maybe. These things within my life have influenced who I am now, and things like this will continue to influence parts of my life, constantly changing where I’m heading. So no, I don’t believe we are set on a destined path, but that it can easily change. The events that have happened in my life so far have taken parts of me and changed either my perspective, my values, my goals, my dreams, thoughts about life and the big idea of becoming an adult out in the real word.
For me as I have said, the last few years have been some of the most challenging years of my life. To everyone different time periods in their life have their hardest times but considering I’m only 18 I’ve only got 18 years of experience to compare this to. And a point i’d like to make is that some people are affected differently, to different extremes. A loss of a loved one to someone could be the most unimaginable pain for them but to another it could be something like losing their final sports game, so we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Personally for me my ‘teenage years’ have definitely been the years I’ve felt the most pain and grief they have challenged my mental and emotional wellbeing.
Back in year 11 I began NCEA level 1. For me that was a step up and and extra new pressure added to my life. It was me taking a giant step forward. I can’t remember everything about my year while in year 11 but I do remember some pretty big things for me back then. So I turned 16 and had more responsibilities put on me, at school and at home. Responsibilities than now, i’m used to, basic things like getting work handed in on time because you didn’t get a second chance when it came to NCEA, or something as simple as putting my dishes in the dishwasher so mum and dad wouldn’t nag at me to do it when they got home. I also had to take on the responsibility of getting a job and earning my own money which I have (not gonna lie) really struggled with even to this day. Getting a job was scary for me and I dreaded going into work for a while and now I just see it as a routine a must do. At a point during this year my family experienced the loss of someone dearest to us. For me this loss brought out a level of maturity in me. I felt I was at the age where I could understand what was really going on I guess. It was definitely a hard time for my mum and the family and a time I will always remember. These are examples of the challenges and not so good times I experienced as a 16 year old but I also had many happy, memorable times throughout this year that I will never forget. Year 11 the year of new responsibilities.
Last year, year 12, was definitely the year about friends and family. Last year there was a big strain on my family. Some of you may know my sister was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. This affected all of us in different ways through the many months. This as I said when on for a very long time starting back in 2015, and is still affecting Claudia and all of us in different ways to this day. Last year she lived in a hospital in a eating disorder ward for a month and 4 days so mum or dad would usually take turns being up there with her. This obviously meant our family was split up for a while. When Claudia was back at home with us there were extra precautions and things we all had to do to help her, all the attention towards her. But at the same time it was tearing us apart as a family. Constant fighting was going on between my parents, stress levels were very high within our household and everything seemed to be slipping at this point in my life. I remember sort of having a reality check and fully understanding that my sister has a mental disorder, a disorder she’ll have to grow up through her teenage years with and longer. For a while I couldn’t quite grasp the idea of that and tbh I still can’t. Of course this was just the low point and things eventually started to get better. Claudia was getting healthier and the help she needed and my family started to feel whole again.
Friends. My friends definitely changed my values on a few things during last year. One of my best friends, and a friend to some of you, Christy, got meningitis and was rushed to hospital and put in an induced coma. She spent 11 days in Christchurch hospital and recovery time continued when she came back home to Wanaka. This was definitely a big shock to her family, myself, her friends, our school and the community. When I first heard about this I could not believe it. I had always remembered my mum telling me not to share drinks with people because you may get meningitis, I thought pffft the chances are slim and I would never have thought it would happen to myself or one of my best friends. This event in my life definitely frightened me as I thought I could possibly lose a friend so young at this age. Later on that year I did actually lose a friend. Many of us lost a friend. A friend I saw everyday in class who was so funny and bubbly and kind. This definitely threw me off balance and made me realize that people don’t just pass from old age. You can go at any age, and that time could be anyday, today, next month, next year. Life is short it really is. So many people have said that cheesy line but it is so so true. I’m now trying to live my life a little differently since that day because it is so very precious. Year 12, the year of friends and family.
Year 13, “my senior year”. School wise this is the final year, the year to crack on and finish school to get UE so you can go off to uni and do great things. But for the social, the more personal side (for me) it’s the year where I want to be in school the least. I want to be out about with friends and traveling, meeting new people, exploring new places but instead i’m still stuck in school. I feel like i’ve done my time here at school and change is needed to help me continue to thrive. I’m not gonna lie, I have absolutely no idea what I want to do when I leave school and I don’t have too much longer to decide and this scares me, growing up scares me. Leaving school is like starting another new chapter of your life, a lot of things change. Your daily routine of 13 years is going to change, new responsibilities, obstacles, opportunities all come into your life wherever you decide to go and do. I can not wait to leave school, i am sooo excited but this is also very overwhelming. Going from adolescence to adulthood is a big jump, it is a big step forward, and I don’t know how to take that step forward. Basically the whole idea of becoming an adult scares me. So if I could say one thing about growing up as a teenager is that things are temporary, you will constantly be changing and continuing to thrive through all the bad and good within your life. Growing up does have its many hurdles but most things won’t last forever so make the most of your time you have now, in the present. Because time, you can’t control it, you can’t go back you can’t skip forward and your time, your time does run out.