The Rare Moments You Feel Like You're Real
You know how some people feel like they’re the only real person in the world?
I have the opposite problem.
To some degree.
Society paints a very strong picture in our minds of what a “teenager” is supposed to do. And I very rarely find myself meeting those expectations. Whether it’s because of my anxiety, depression, or just general tendencies to isolate myself socially (lockdown was a bit of a dream come true), I tend to find myself working on my computer, browsing the internet, and just being alone with my (admittedly distressing) thoughts. Even if this is a perfectly valid way to exist, it still doesn’t quite feel as such. It feels like I’m supposed to be out hanging out with friends, discovering myself, and just taking time to be a teen. But I don’t. I don’t feel like I ever really take the time to just be a teen, because I’m too busy being “mature for my age” or desperately clinging on to the memories of the times before my mental health issues were overwhelming.
I almost always feel like I’m an impostor of a teenager, an impostor of a person. A desperate attempt to seem anything like what “normal” is “supposed” to be. Not even normal, just not totally disconnected from this reality’s understanding of how things are supposed to be.
I have friends. Good ones. The ones I spend the most (read: any) time with are also socially isolated loners like me, so I really only see them at school for the most part. There’s nothing wrong with that, but then social media comes into play and I see all of the posts of classmates who I don’t even really like all that much spending time together and smiling and just… being teens. Having bonding moments they’ll remember forever with their friends at the beach at sunset, sharing who they are, or even just messing around in ways that I not only rarely (if ever) experience, but can barely understand.
So the moments where I feel like I actually exist in the role I have are few and far between, but they mean a lot to me. They’re almost always totally innocuous things that most people wouldn’t think about for more than a second, but for me they remind me that I exist.
The reason I’m thinking of this now (aside from blasting 8485’s Hangar at one in the morning) is because yesterday, after the FullIndie event, I was waiting on the skytrain platform with a friend and two of their friends who I hadn’t met before. While we were waiting for this train, I took a minute to tell one of the two friends a whole bunch of assumptions I had about them (most of which turned out to be approximately right, I’m pretty good at reading people), and observed their reaction to being perceived by another person while my friend and their other friend commented on what was going on. I don’t know why, but something about that moment just felt like a moment that you’re supposed to be having as a teenager, and the kind of moment I so rarely have.
So now I’m sitting here crying over how I felt while sitting in the cold in Richmond waiting to go home, and how desperately I want to have moments like that more often, and how I probably won’t.
Maybe they aren’t really special moments, maybe they’re just moments where the constant vague dissociation that I barely notice anymore has taken a little step back, and that’s how it feels for me. I don’t know.
Anyways, yeah. If you feel like this too, you aren’t alone.