Sometimes adulting is hard. Sometimes making decisions in your adult years sucks. What if I choose the wrong job? What if I choose the wrong house? What if I choose the wrong person? What if I choose the wrong investment? Do I take this vacation or continue to work? Do I take out student loans? Do I pay this bill or the mortgage? Sometimes a problem looks you dead in the face and all you want to do is turn around and cower in the corner. Why face it if you can avoid it and hope for it to go away? Sometimes the worry, doubt, and fear cripple you, knocking you to the ground where the wave of anxiety consumes you. It reigns victory over your defeat.
In these moments for a split second all you wish is to go back to your childhood, back to your teenage- hormone ridden-rebellious self so you don’t have to deal with “real world” problems of being an adult. But just for a split second. Why? Because within that moment as well, you remember just how awkward growing up really was, and you recall just how much you despised all the things you were dragged to as a kid, how much ages 12-14 in those “forgotten” junior high years sucked, and how much pressure you felt every single year of high school. These recollections dwindle your adult problems down into a tiny pea. You would rather eat that now pea-sized problem as an adult than go back to those years. Don’t remember? That’s ok. I am here to remind you of that awkwardness. Here are 5 instances with picture proof of just how awkward growing up was.
- The pictures your parents were insistent on taking for your “first” experiences.
Mothers love to capture all your “first experiences” so that they can then be placed in a shoebox in the back corner of the closet, forgotten, until they somehow reappear at high school graduations, weddings, or significant birthdays well into your adulthood. We’ve all been there, remembering the eye-rolls and sighs of annoyance we presented as response to, “I need to get your picture doing __________(fill in the blank).” Here are just a few that I faced with this one.
- The questionable hairstyles that you thought looked good but didn’t.
Ah, yes. This is always a fun one for me. We tend to look at others’ pictures growing up and get a good laugh at the hairstyles that were in style “back in the day”, but we need the reminder that we once were in their shoes. We’ve all had some haircut we regret. Me? I didn’t have just one…I had a couple. As a preteen into her teenage years, I, like most girls believed my mother lacked any fashion sense whatsoever. So, when it came to hair, in my eyes, she did not know what she was saying. Because defiance and disregard for any parental suggestions are also key characteristics to a teenage girl, any suggestion my mother made about my hairstyles I clearly did not take into consideration. If she said something didn’t look good, obviously I kept that style. This is one case where you will hear me say it: I should have listened to my mother.
Look at those bangs! The curling iron was their best friend. And the headband making my hair pulled back tight. And those spiral curls. I just can’t get over the bangs. The bangs improved a teensy bit on the second picture…but the zigzag part and flipped out hair layers…a bit 1950s?
I’d like to think if I am still around in 30 years, I will look back and not regret my hairstyles as an adult like I did in childhood but who knows.
- The many occasions your parent found a way to embarrass you in public.
I think there is a piece of every mother’s genetic makeup, a hidden chromosome that drives their need to embarrass their child especially in public. It is easy to block embarrassment from the younger years, but when you are 18 and your mother finds a way to embarrass you for said birthday, you don’t erase that from your memory. It becomes the fuel for your plot of revenge later in your adult life. I present to you the picture my mother decorated my locker with for my 18th birthday. The caption says, “Lindsey, didn’t your mother teach you not to pick your nose in public?”
Let’s go in for a close-up…
Now some might think that doesn’t seem very embarrassing, hanging the picture on your locker. It didn’t stop there.
She hung that picture up ALL AROUND THE SCHOOL. EVERYWHERE. I’m pretty sure I was still finding copies of that picture a few days later. So embarrassing…and so awkward. It’s just my luck that my mother captured this moment—probably because it was one of my “first” experiences of a birthday party. And no, that’s not the gift I was trying to give my friend.
- The times you had to dig through the cafeteria trashcan for the retainer you threw away.
Throwing your retainer away in the cafeteria trash is like a right of passage. Everyone at some point had done this; you’ve got to join the club somehow. All eyes are fixated on you as you stroll up to the trash, put the gloves on provided by the custodian, and begin to dig. You must find this needle in a haystack—the one object you would rather not be in possession of but know your parents would be fuming if you lost. Your hand rises holding the slimy treasure high in the air, a round of applause for your victory. You might think, oh it wouldn’t be so bad to be back at this stage of life. You were noticed. You had a moment of glory. Then you see this.
And then you remember how annoying the retainer was. How difficult it was to talk that half the time you took it out and held it as you talked, content with the excess saliva dripping into your hand. Do you really want to go back to that? Is it worth the misery of annoying mouth pieces just to avoid the problem you face? Or the precursor: braces?
Really? You want that? I’ll pass.
- The compilation of cringe worthy outfits.
This is by far my favorite section. Obviously, it must be saved for last then. Just like hairstyles, sometimes we look back and wonder how anything was a fashion trend. However, in some of our cases—in my case—our outfits weren’t even part of a trend, they were just plain awkward. From the holiday outfits to matching sibling outfits to the WTF-am-I-wearing outfits. Just plain awkward.
I’m facing a lot of uncertainty in life right now. I’m trying to figure out how to pay bills, pay my rent, how to use my passions as a living and not just a hobby. I have decision after decision to make. There are moments I curl up, longing to be back in my childhood where it seemed easier, when I didn’t have to be an adult, when I didn’t feel like I had this heavy burden resting on me, but I can’t go back. Living in the past won’t help me grow, facing my “now” will. All I have is right now and living here is what will make me thrive. And I want to thrive, not just survive. Getting a good laugh from the reminders of just how awkward our lives used to be will help fuel our fullest lives, allowing us to thrive.