I think that, in the past year, I’ve grown up, or at least started to. Now don’t get scared. I’m not some boring adult who wears power suits and listens to lite rock Top 40 shit. I still like to take spur-of-the-moment road trips and stay out late getting drunk, and I still like to go to rock’n’roll shows and make out with people. I still do reckless, stupid things and slack off on my homework sometimes. The difference now is that I take full responsibility for my choices. I don’t try to blame them on my parents, or the friends I hang out with, or my fucked-up mental health, or even society. I can say, “Yeah, this is a stupid thing to do, but I want to do it.” And I accept the consequences of my actions.
And I feel slightly less crazy than I used to. Not that I don’t still get really insane sometimes. I am, after all, still bipolar. But I’ve learned not to blame my problems on my mental illness. Also, I think my teenage hormones have calmed down a little, and they always exacerbated my craziness. It’s good to actually feel calm sometimes. I could never reach a place of stillness before, and it still doesn’t happen very often – I’m full of kinetic energy. But sometimes, sometimes I can just be still.
The third reason I know I’ve grown up is that I’m not as angry as I used to be. That’s not to say that I’ve become apathetic and that I no longer care about social injustices. It’s just that I no longer have this all-consuming rage that just explodes out of me in all directions. You can’t do anything with rage like that. I simply hated everything, and my anger would pick its own target. I had no choice in the matter. Some days it would be directed at the guy sitting next to me in class, who I used to think was nice, but who maybe I just now noticed had a kinda annoying laugh and all of a sudden I’d be ready to sock the guy right in the nose. Or some days I’d just be so overwhelmingly angry at everything that I’d end up stomping on flowers and glaring at anyone who looked at me. Most times I’d be so angry that I knew I was about to go homicidal on someone’s ass. So instead I’d turn my rage inward and end up slicing myself to ribbons or drinking too much whiskey outta shampoo bottles or some damn thing.
But, see, that doesn’t happen to me so much anymore. Yeah, every once in a while I still get pissed off at everything and want to smash any fucker who rubs me the wrong way. But now, if I’m angry, it’s usually at something specific and I can use that anger to try and change the thing I’m pissed off about.
I don’t focus on the bad anymore. Instead of getting up and thinking, “I don’t have a significant other. My job sucks. I have too much to do,” I think, “I have great friends. I have a job. I am able to do all the things I need to.”
Yeah. I’m still gonna drink too much Guinness and stay up late writing and walk around dark alleyways by myself at night. I’m still gonna wear my leather jacket and smeared lipstick, play bass guitar in a rock’n’roll band, and make out with a lot of people. And I still have a lot to learn, but I know I can be responsible, I can accept the consequences of what I choose to do, and I have found some peace in my life.
Maybe growing up ain’t so bad.
This column was written while listening to: The Veros, Suspect Device, The Soviettes, JUST A FIRE, The Frisk, and The Weakerthans.