Dear Diary

May 30, 2012

School’s out forever.

Dylan

It wasn’t until I was 17 or 18 that I started to look my age. Before that, my curls and chubby cheeks made it simple for most people treat me like a baby. It didn’t help that I was the youngest person in my class, all the way through high school—that just sealed my fate as The Baby in any social situation, a role that can be pretty prohibiting. You can never be the sexy one or the super cool one or the incredibly interesting one if you are placed in the baby box.

There is, however, one big advantage to being The Baby—if you act the slightest bit smart or mature, you get to be one of those kids that adults call precocious. I used that impression to my advantage growing up.

Before you reach legal adulthood, acting like a miniature grownup is the key to getting what you want in life, at least in my experience. That’s how I got to sell my handmade cards and headbands in stores when I was 12, got paying design jobs at 13, and snagged a fundraising internship when I was 15. Many adults set the bar low for teenagers: if you prove that you don’t fall into the unfortunately common stereotypes of lazy, disaffected, and unreliable Youth of Today, opportunities can arise. It’s always super satisfying to trump someone’s expectations of you, anyways. If you can prove that you don’t fit the preconceptions of kidlike irresponsibility or impatience or whatever old people despise about kids, then you’re officially precocious. Adults will think you’re GREAT. However, you can’t just be an old in a young body—you have to charm them with your youthful enthusiasm and charisma while you surprise them with your old-soul wisdom. It’s a delicate balance.

By the time I turned 18, I guess some combination of my looks changing a little bit (even though I still have blond curls and full cheeks) and my attitude maturing somewhat, too, made people start treating me my age. A lot of people I meet are even surprised that I’m not old enough to drink legally. Mostly I welcomed this change—I’m not automatically assigned the Baby role in every social group anymore—but it puts me on unfamiliar ground. I know how to play The Baby—it’s been my whole life. I knew what strings to pull to get what I wanted. But as far as being the CRAZY SEXY COOL ADULT PERSON OVER HERE, I don’t know how to pull it off. I’m not really that person yet. I don’t know what to do! No one will buy precocious from a soon-to-be-20-year-old. Adults are going to need reasons to love me as a fellow adult. I gotta learn a whole new arsenal of charming behaviors.

How do adults get what they want, anyway? ♦

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16 Comments

  • WitchesRave May 30th, 2012 7:43 PM

    Ruby, write whatever you feel like writing in the moment that you sit down and type and know that ever girl, boy, man ,woman, hedgehog that reads your entries is by your side and would give your hand a squeeze if technology allowed it (I mean seriously its the 21st century cant some russian scientists have invent that already? Who ares whats in space!) :)

    witches-rave.tumblr.com

  • lylsoy May 30th, 2012 7:50 PM

    If a fairy offered me a wish, I’d wish that no teenager ever has to experience the death of their parents. I felt just like you for a very long time. There are events in life that I just want to share with her, but I can’t! And that still hurts.
    hugs x
    gossipgonzesse.tumblr.com

  • taste test May 30th, 2012 7:51 PM

    Katherine! I just got out of a conservative Catholic high school and I loved your diary so much. Like you, I realized in the last couple weeks of school that my classmates really aren’t that bad, but on the whole, I’m just really happy I’m done. I’ll never have to argue against not just my teacher but my entire class about abortion again. I’ll never have to study a textbook that compares homosexuality to eating dirt and girls who have had sex to chewed gum again. I’ll never have to listen to the girls comparing each other’s “bikini bods” and calling each other sluts or the guys calling everything they don’t like gay. I can put all the bad memories behind me and move on with my life.

  • GlitterKitty May 30th, 2012 8:01 PM

    Katherine, this is so dorky but, can you, me, and the other girl be best friends? Like seriously, every time I read this thing I’m like, “Katherine is exactly like me. I am her. She is me.” Ex. I just started watching Parks & Rec and am completely obsessed! One of my friends is getting seriously annoyed of the play-by-play I give her after watching an episode.

    And Ruby, don’t write something you think is stupid just to have something light. Be real even if it’s hard because we all love the real you. And I wish I could give you a big hug and bake you some cookies but obviously, I can’t. So, ~metaphorical hug~ and ~metaphorical cookies~

  • Tara May 30th, 2012 8:01 PM

    Ruby, your diary was very moving. I say write what you want to write!
    Dylan, I’ve always been the baby too!!! I completely relate to this having gotten on with older people aka adults often but also looking like a child even now.
    Naomi I felt that way about ending high school too. not completely but had some not-so-great feelings attached to my social situation/relationship with peers/so forth and felt so ready to be OVER. I’m happy you could get through it too.
    Katherine-I love the befriending friend crush moment! I always have admiration for really cool people and that moment when you two start talking and have so much in common is a beautiful one. I really liked your thoughts on ending school. Not hating it but not liking it either.

  • Lani May 30th, 2012 8:32 PM

    Katherine, reading your journal entries is a perfect reminder that I am not the only one having issues as such during high school- right down to good times with a friend crush. Thank you so much

  • moonchild May 30th, 2012 8:47 PM

    Ruby, don’t feel like you ever have to write a certain way to please us readers. While what your mom said was smart, we are open to all of your feelings, light and heavy.
    Love ya dahl! :) :) :)

    Gwen
    http://under-a-bridge.blogspot.com/

  • Nomi May 30th, 2012 8:58 PM

    “Anxiety makes everything seem impossible.”
    I couldnt have said it better if I tried.

  • a-anti-anticapitalista May 31st, 2012 11:16 AM

    Dylan, I turned 19 this year and I am starting to feel the exact same way :c although I am still the baby in most groups of people I am around whenever a high-schooler shows up I feel like… oh wait… now I am not anymore, I have to be the grown-up for this person, how awkward for me. And being in activism whenever I find myself speaking about high-schoolers and “how to reeach theese kiiids” and acting as a sort-of mentor I just feel so strange.

  • eliza dolittle May 31st, 2012 2:31 PM

    Hi Ruby :)

    My dad passed away about 12 years ago now just before my 8th birthday. He had melanoma, and I’d been reassured that he was getting much better at the time.
    I spent a long time grieving, especially because I was 8 and hadn’t had to acknowledge death or the real existence of the outside world before.

    I would often cry or complain about how unfair it was, because it is always unfair, and how come it had to happen to me, because your sadness is always the strongest sadness in the world.
    Which is all pretty cliche, and I certainly feel very selfish thinking about how I reacted, but it’s important to know that there is no wrong or right way to feel, no matter what anyone tells you. And this includes not grieving; I didn’t cry until 6 months after my dad died, and a visit the hospital where he’d been for so long and knowing that he WASN’T there drove it home.

    So keeping yourself as safe as you can, you wallow in self pity or move on or get angry or question the living shit out of yourself and the world around you. Just do what you need to do, and don’t let anyone make you feel that you’re not coping in the right way. <3

  • cleobea June 1st, 2012 8:48 PM

    Dylan can you right a peice about how to get your way into getting a internship and your own stuff ans stores in such!!! Please rookie

  • Mim June 2nd, 2012 12:18 PM

    Dylan, I was always the baby (and still am) in my social circles. One thing that helped me interact as an “adult” was just starting to do “adult” things. So, like, encouraging the “precociousness” of my friends, even if they are officially too old to be precocious (I mean, if I’m too old for it, they HAVE to be (: ). One of the first times I noticed that I should do this, I was camping with some adult family members, and they started taking on various chores, and I was sitting around waiting for someone to ask me to do something (but totally willing to do it, just not taking initiative.) And one of my relatives took me aside and said that some people were annoyed that I wasn’t just jumping in… they expected me to just pick something and do it like the rest of the adults! So that was a kick in the butt… but now I look for things like that, as well as ways to be encouraging of people as well as have interesting interests to talk about. It seems to work mostly.

  • NadZ_8 June 3rd, 2012 4:10 AM

    My dad passed away when I was 3! I always wondered why he had to pass away so soon, I don’t even remember him… But later I found out in my early teen years why. Everything happens for a reason.
    Anyway, I’m busy with final exams at school.
    Its frightening, I don’t know what to do after this and if I’ll be able to stand on my own to feet.
    I guess I just HAVE to!

    P.S. I just joined. I fell in love with Rookie. :)