The Main Thing I Learned From My Time As A Teenager Is That It Is Quite Hard Being A Teenager.

Writing was very important to me when I was a teenager.

During this period, my main creative niche was moody, self-obsessed fiction.

However, I would occasionally stray into other formats.

At one point, for example, I wrote a letter to JK Rowling explaining why I possessed the perfect personal attributes to be her assistant but I think it must have gotten lost in the post because I never received a reply.

I also wrote in a diary on a regular basis.

I was reading through one of my diaries the other day when I came across a series of entries which I feel prove that, even at the tender age of 14, I was in possession of the emotional maturity and sensitivity that all good writers need to create complex and compelling characters.

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A mere day after meeting Luke, it became obvious I was contemplating taking the relationship to the next level:

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However, five days later, I discovered something that would change my perception of Luke forever:

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It was a devastating blow that altered my world view on a fundamental level:

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I think that I was experiencing emotional anguish because I felt very anguished and emotional.

I listened to Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime’ quite a lot – and by ‘quite a lot’ I mean at a rate of around 30 times per day.

Thankfully, it wasn’t long before I learned to channel my angst into healthy outlets, such as physical activity:

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My teenage years were quite a disorientating time for me.

I was very confused and unsure of myself.

Every little thing that happened to me seemed incredibly dramatic and the world frequently felt like it was on the verge of ending.

Before I was a teenager, life was very simple.

My mind operated in a very logical and consistent manner.

If I had a problem, for instance, I would go to my parents for advice.

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Once I progressed into the teenage phase, I found that I was worrying about things great deal more than I had done as a child.

However, I also suddenly experienced an intense desire to keep my issues to myself.

As a result, I existed in a near-constant state of contradiction.

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I no longer actively sought out my parents’ advice.

In fact, more often than not, I found myself vehemently disagreeing with them.

This was completely irrational.

I was fully aware of the fact that my parents possessed over 30 years more life experience than me but this failed to prevent me from operating under the assumption that everything they suggested was automatically and intrinsically wrong and not applicable to me in any aspect.

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(N.B. – I am a little bit unsure as to what my dad is doing in this picture. I initially intended to draw him sitting there, looking a little bit concerned about my understanding of the calorific content of chicken in relation to that of dessert but then I drew his eyes wrong and, instead of looking at me, he appears to be staring dubiously at the unappetising piece of broccoli on the end of his fork. I also experienced a few issues whilst drawing his fork hand. I originally wanted to provide him with the nice sturdy grip that most people use when handling items of cutlery but, due to my lack of artistic talent, this was not possible. Unfortunately, his hand is instead slightly mangled and strongly resembles the fork itself… sorry Dad.)

When I was a teenager, I felt like I was the only person who had ever experienced what it was like to be a teenager.

I suspect that this was one of the reasons why I had difficulty apprehending my parents’ advice.

I was unable visualise them as teenagers and therefore found it hard to believe that they could understand what I was going through.

I think I just presumed that they had skipped puberty altogether – as if, by some weird flux in in the space time continuum, they had spontaneously progressed directly from childhood to adulthood.

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‘But I Was A Sheep Last Year…’ – The Plight of Every Curly-Haired Child During Nativity Season

When I was in Year 1, I wanted to play the baby Jesus in the school nativity.

However, there were several fundamental problems that impeded this desire.

There was, for example, the slight issue that I looked nothing like a newborn baby boy.

This was due to the fact that I was a five year old girl.

Nevertheless, when the cast list was put up in the assembly hall, I crowded around it along with my fellow classmates, wholeheartedly expecting to see the following words imprinted before me:

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As a result, I was somewhat taken aback when I was greeted with:

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It was hard not to feel dejected, especially when it was consequentially revealed that a plastic doll from Toys R Us had been cast in the role of Jesus instead.

Nevertheless, I knew that the majority of successful actresses had to play some undesirable parts before they hit the big time and so accepted the decision with reasonable levels of grace and dignity.

However, I was a curly-haired and somewhat introverted child and, over the course of several years, a trend started to emerge with regards to the roles I was given in the nativity each year:

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After my fourth consecutive outing as a sheep, my mum tried to console me in an attempt to reinstate my damaged sense of self-worth.

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Despite her efforts, I became increasingly bitter and began making subtle attempts to sabotage the play.

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My subversive actions evidently had an impact.

In 2003, I was finally cast in a different role:

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At the time, the opportunity to play the backside of a donkey seemed momentous.

The fact that I had been upgraded to a slightly larger barnyard animal seemed like a significant step in my acting career.

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However, like most humans under the age of ten, I was not particularly patient as a child.

This lack of patience was particularly evident during the Christmas period.

When my mum first decided to have children, I imagine that some deluded part of her envisioned the family Christmas as a refined and civilised affair, like it was in Downton Abbey times.

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However, the building excitement of the festive season severely compromised my ability to do things at the appropriate time.

This tendency began to manifest itself right at the beginning of December when my mum would hand me an advent calender.

The proper use of an advent calendar relies heavily upon the idea of self-control, a notion which my 8-year-old mind struggled to apprehend at most times of the year.

During the Christmas period, it was a concept that no longer existed on my personal cognitive spectrum.

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Halfway through December, my mum would buy a Christmas tree and me and my brother were allowed to decorate it.

The process would start off relatively placidly with each of us placing decorations carefully on the branches.

However, it was not long before it became apparent that there was a significant discrepancy in each of our individual creative visions.

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The situation rapidly began to deteriorate.

What had started off as a nice sibling bonding session soon became a savage competition as to who could place the most decorations on the tree in the shortest period of time.

It was not long before we exhausted our mum’s supply of relevant, Christmas-based decorations.

In desperation, we began throwing any item in the immediate vicinity onto the tree in what I can only guess was a crazed attempt to claim it as our territory.

In the end, our tree had a slightly different aesthetic than that which is usually adopted in most other households.

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Raising a Dog is a Walk in the Park – Only Thing is the Walk Involves You Picking Up Poos Whilst Your Dog Manically Chases Various Other Dogs, Ducks, Squirrels, the Occasional Vole, Unsuspecting Runners, its Own Shadow and Any Other Moving Entity in the Immediate Vicinity…

Just under two years ago, I fulfilled one of my foremost life ambitions.

I finally managed to convince my parents to get a dog.

My lifelong quest to obtain a dog has taught me more about perseverance than any other challenge I have endured, including my search for graduate employment, all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the time that I attempted to place a plastic screen protector on an ipad without capturing any air bubbles.

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My dog is called Jessie.

Jessie is quite a pretty dog.

She has a curly coat and looks a bit like a teddy bear, except she is slightly larger than the average teddy bear and slightly smaller those humungous stuffed bears that you can win at fairgrounds.

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She’s also good at nuzzling and wags her tail a lot.

In fact, upon meeting a new person, she often wags her tail so effusively that she momentarily loses control of her rear end.

Occasionally, this loss of control is so severe that her back legs give way under the force of her reverberating arse and she rolls over on her back, helplessly twitching, momentarily disabled by her own immense excitement.

Jessie is also quite a naughty dog.

I don’t know why she is so naughty.

I have no idea.

No idea whatsoever…

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My parents often tell me that I need to be more consistent in the way that I discipline the dog.

However, I think that I am incredibly consistent because this happens every single time that I try and discipline the dog.

In the past, I have always respected my parents’ advice but recently I have found it increasingly difficult to do so.

I think this is mostly due to the fact that I have noticed a considerable shift in what they consider to be legitimately interesting conversation since we have had the dog living with us.

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I thought that I would entitle the next segment of this post –

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– but then thought of approximately 24 other incidents that could also be classified under the same title, so decided to call it –

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– but then thought that this title was slightly too dramatic so have settled on –

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Picture this.

I am standing in the middle of a field in the middle of a park in the middle of February.

Jessie is off-lead, running around me, having the time of her life.

She is bounding across the field with the grass beneath her paws and the wind in her fur.

In her mouth is a dead squirrel, in a relatively advanced stage of decomposition.

Minutes beforehand, she had located the squirrel’s body amidst the roots of a tree.

At first, she had started to scratch at the ground around the lifeless squirrel, as if she was considering digging a hole in order to provide it with a dignified burial.

However, she soon decided that rolling in its fetid remains was a much more appropriate way in which to honour its passage into the afterlife.

Each motion of her body released more of the squirrel’s smell into the air.

In case you are unfamiliar with the aroma of dead squirrel, I can tell you that it smells a lot like bad.

Pure, concentrated bad.

Bad smell does not bother Jessie.

On the contrary, the fact that she has something disgusting in her mouth means that she is completely and utterly content.

She is completely infatuated with the squirrel.

It is practically the new love of her life.

If left to her own devices, she would happily take the squirrel home and engage in an intimate spooning session with it.

I try anything to entice her to drop the squirrel.

By anything, I mean that I offer her various treats, including the ones shaped like bones, the ones shaped like paw prints and the ones shaped like generic oblongs.

When this fails to capture her attention, I resort to my secret weapon.

I reach into my pocket and take out Squeaky Ball.

Under most circumstances, Squeaky Ball is to Jessie as the One Ring is to Gollum.

The noise that it emits has the ability to exert a hypnotic, totally immersive effect upon her.

I hold Squeaky Ball in front of Jessie.

I squeeze Squeaky Ball.

Jessie ignores Squeaky Ball.

It is at this point that I realise that the situation is dire.

After a few minutes, I am approached by a passing woman.

The woman is wearing a coat.

The coat is white.

Freakishly white.

It is as if she has taken a teeny tiny brush, dipped it in Daz and painstakingly scrubbed any semblance of stains away.

The woman looks at Jessie and then diverts her gaze to me.

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– she says, frowning contemplatively as if on the verge of making a profoundly useful comment.16
17It is only by summoning significant levels of self-control that I manage to keep the above response inside my head.

I smile at the woman and thank her for her insight, before reverting my attention back to Jessie.

I am aghast to see that she is making her way rapidly towards us.

This is because Jessie is under the impression that jumping up and placing her paws on a person’s stomach is an appropriate way to greet them.

I am highly aware of the fact that the woman’s stomach is encased in the white coat whilst Jessie’s paws are caked in mud.

I am relieved, therefore, when she stops about three feet away from the woman.

However, within seconds, my relief disintegrates like toilet paper when it is flushed down the toilet.

Jessie begins to shake her head from side to side.

It is too much for the squirrel.

The force of the violent motion means that it is no longer able to retain its already dubious structural integrity.

Portions of its carcass begin flying off sporadically, momentarily suspended in the atmosphere, before being drawn inexorably to the cleanest object in the immediate vicinity.

It is possible to draw comparisons between what consequentially occurred and that technique that artists use when they chuck paint at a blank canvas.

Except it wasn’t a canvas.

It was a coat.

And it wasn’t paint.

It was dead squirrel viscera.13

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