I have a lot of young people in my life. Between my volunteer work with a mentor organization here in New York and my social media conversations with over a dozen young adult relatives back home in Michigan, I frequently feel every bit of my 34.5 years.
Obviously, these young folks are growing up in a different era. They have access to so much more information. The internet was around when I was 18, but Google didn’t even exist yet. But even with all of that extra stuff these kids have now, some things remain the same. At 18 years old you know everything, having your own apartment is the ultimate immediate dream and “old” people are mostly clueless farts who can’t comprehend your decision-making because your level of fabulousness maturity and intelligence is a stark contrast to the mediocrity that was their youth.
As I was talking to my mentee the other day, I was thinking about what I was doing (the good and the bad) when I was her age and what I thought about 30-something year old women at the time.
Love Jones came out the year I turned 18. I thought that movie was alpha and omega. Nina and Darius and everybody looked so cool. Hanging out in clubs all night, having a guy stay over (at an extremely fly apartment), dancing till exhaustion on a date, having sex, being married, having these huge conversations about love and life—these were all things I had yet to experience and none of my friends had done them either. I couldn’t wait to be grown and do all of those things.
So, it is through that filter that my 18-year-old self would judge me today. I think teen me would be in awe that I live in Harlem and that I’m a writer and that I’ve been married (and divorced). Little D would revel in the crazy stories I have from my almost 10 years living here in New York. Teen D would be proud and maybe a tad surprised that writing is my career choice. Though I’ve always enjoyed writing, I didn’t seriously consider it as a career option until my late twenties.
I think Little D’s biggest disappointment in me would be that I don’t go out every single night and that I’m not dating some big fancy movie star. That might make me a tad lame in her eyes. Other than that, I think we would get along quite well.
What would your 18-year-old self think of you?