Can You Fail at Growing Up?

comment | January 31st, 2012

(story submitted by Casey, a 16 yo Chestist)

We talk a lot about expectations here @OOC.  They can motivate us and they can smack our happy around like nobody's business.  Here's Casey's story, and all we want to do is give her a big digital hug (so we are). 

I feel I'm not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not popular enough, not funny enough, not smart enough.

I guess everyone in high school feels like this, but I guess I thought on the edge of sixteen I'd have something going for me. Instead I feel like a failure. I remember being in kindergarten and dreaming about being sixteen. I remember thinking that I'd be beautiful, top of my class academically, popular, and everyone's best friend. When I was really young, I was a beautiful kid. I was told that on a regular basis. I even tried modeling. When I hit puberty, that changed. I wasn't perfect anymore – and I've never gotten over that.

When I was a little kid, I figured that I'd always be beautiful and popular like I was in kindergarten. I forgot to take into account that things change. I'm no longer complimented on a daily basis, I could never be a model now, and I'm not nearly the "popular girl" I always thought I'd be. I feel like if I met my six year old self today, she'd be disappointed. Maybe it's just that growing up isn't what you imagine it to be when you're younger, or maybe I've fallen short of my goals. Maybe I idealized what it would be like to be sixteen, or maybe I'm not living up to what I should be. It's hard to feel like you've failed yourself, especially when you haven't even done anything of substance yet. I feel like I've failed at growing up. {end story}

We can't help but think that as tough as 16 is for Casey right now, she's going to be a stronger 17, 18, 24, 37…for it.  She's looking her expectations and wants straight in the eye and sharing fully and deeply.  I don't care how old you are, that's never easy when you feel you've fallen shy of what you wanted and expected.

What words of advice can those of you who've been 16 before share with Casey?  What stories do we each have about feeling we weren't enough-enough, and how we managed our way through the hurt and disappointment?  Oh, and before we let you all get to it, our answer to the question at the end of her story…no, you can't fail at growing up – unless you never do.  And Casey, she's clearly growing up just fine, strong, and wise.