Twenty-One is, I think, an age of ‘becoming’.
Through most of your adolescence you have worked on figuring out who it is you want to be. At eighteen you are suddenly declared an adult, and thus starts the testing stage. With a slew of new responsibilities and opportunities you start making the choices that will define who you become.
And at twenty-one you start becoming that person.
(For an only slightly related but very interesting discussion on child prodigies see this link).
Of course, this could all be hogwash, but it’s true for me from my rather limited point of view. Maybe I will look back in 50 years and say I never really stopped ‘becoming’. Maybe 30 is my year. But for now, at twenty-one I feel like I really am becoming the person I want to be.
To take a potentially deep conversation in a very silly direction, this train of thought began after taking a ‘Which Disney Princess Are You?’ quiz. Now, I doubt the accuracy of any of these quizzes, but the result of this particular one really made me think. Normally when I take a Disney Princess quiz (yes, I have taken more than one. What can I say? I grew up in the 90’s) I get Belle. Or Cinderella. Now these are perfectly lovely princesses. Most of my friends would take Belle in a heartbeat, but I admit I was always disappointed.
Belle is not the kind of hero I want to be.
Belle wants "adventure in the great wide somewhere" but she never actually takes up the challenge – at least not on her own. She only acts when forced to move out of her comfort zone after her father goes missing. While she is very noble and self-sacrificing once she finally takes action, even this choice – to take her father’s place as a prisoner – is rather passive. Things happen to Belle. She doesn’t make things happen.
I once had a long argument with a friend over which princess is better – the one who chases after what she wants (the prince) or the one who lets the prince chase her. Now it’s all lovely and romantic being wooed by a prince, and obviously the best kind of romance has two parties who are equally devoted to one another, but I much prefer the princess that makes things happen for herself.
I’m not sure if you’ve guessed but my favourite Disney Princess is Ariel.
For one thing, how cool is her castle?
But more importantly, you could never accuse Ariel of being a passive hero.
According to the quiz:
|You are one stubborn, headstrong girl who is determined to follow her dreams. You would do anything for love, even risk her peoples’ health and happiness, albeit unwittingly. You would also do everything you can to correct mistakes or misunderstandings, even taking on infamous and dangerous… witches. Deep down, like any true archivist, you seek the truth in things and follow your heart. Hopefully, eveything will work out for you like it did for your avatar.|
Okay, so hopefully I never risk my family’s health and happiness for my dreams (which I’m not convinced Ariel was doing – I think it is clear that only fear divided merpeople and humans, not hatred or danger) but I’m pretty chuffed with this result.
I lived most of my teenage years being passive and fearful, to a degree. I dreamt my dreams in private. I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in myself to make things happen.
When I was eighteen I took some big steps forward. I got a job that was way (way, way) out of my comfort zone. I started uni. I got married. I started taking chances. I decided I would no longer let opportunities slide by. I was probably a lot like Belle.
But this year, at twenty-one, I am finally becoming the person I want to be. I am confident in myself and in my goals. I am determined to pursue my dreams, to make sacrifices and to keeping trying no matter how many times I am knocked back. I am just about to submit my first novel.
All my life I’ve wanted to be Ariel. I’m only just getting there now.
And if you read the prodigies article, I’m thinking that’s a good thing.
Here’s to active heroes, determined princesses and being twenty-one.