The first thing that you probably will have noticed about this blog post is the large, somewhat unflattering photo of fifteen-year-old me, all the way back in 2014. I had not mastered the art of the selfie yet. It is awkward, self-conscious, and in retrospect, sort of embarrassing. To be honest, as I am writing this I am cringing at the idea of it being permanently linked to me on the internet. But I am doing my best not to be embarrassed of this picture because I took it on the day that I also took one of the most important steps of my life; I took it on the day that I wrote the first line of what would become ‘His Frozen Fingertips’.
Let’s be clear about this, the first draft of my book was absolutely terrible. I’m not being self-deprecating in the hope of gaining praise, I am stating a stark truth. It was awful. Of all of the files on my computer, the first draft of my first book is one that I visit with the most trepidation. It contains such wonderful lines as:
- “Ouch,” he said, “that hurt.”
- “Snow is cold.”
- ‘His sword was made of metal.’
Needless to say, I was not Tolkien. If I wrote anything like that today I would have to truly consider the future of my writing career. However, the joy of it was that I wasn’t Tolkien. This was an earlier evolution of myself, and that work was the best that I was able to do at the time. In the same way as apes evolved into humans, I was evolving into a better writer, and I think that I should learn not to be so hard on myself. After all, we don’t judge cavemen on their lack of smartphones, so why should fifteen-year-old me be held accountable for the skills that she lacked at the time?
In a way (prepare for the inevitable life-lesson, because this is a major one), the same can be said of everyone’s childhood events, not just momentous ones. People delete unflattering photos from their Facebook accounts all of the time, even when the account is private. No one but their friends are able to see these photos – so why is there so much shame associated with who we used to be? I’ll be the one to say it, I used to think that fluffy jumpers, jeggings, and rainbow elastic sandals were the coolest look. If I had to choose an outfit now, I don’t think that I would make the same choice. However, that is not the same as saying that I would choose to delete that period of my life from mine and my friends’ memories. At the age of fourteen I was perfectly comfortable wearing that outfit. It seems patronising that seventeen-year-old me should choose that that is not a good memory, and just delete it. Call me old-fashioned but it’s strange to want to delete the fundamental parts of your earlier life.
Now, when this is really evident is on someone’s birthday. It is probably someone’s birthday today, right now as I post this. I have probably forgotten, sorry. It is a Generation Z tradition that on a person’s birthday all of their friends post embarrassing pictures of them on their Facebook walls for all of the world to see. Some of these photos are them gurning or being silly, but others are just childhood memories. The two are seen in the same light by the recipient, who will respond with:
- Oh God! That’s so embarrassing!
- I was such a foetus.
- I wish I had never been born.*
*All phrases that I have literally said when shown photos of young me.
Now, I may come across as a hypocrite as I am one of the most self-conscious people ever to walk this earth, but we need to stop doing this. Perfection is overrated. No one is perfect, especially not as a pre-teen or teenager. We are constantly growing up, discovering who we truly are – and to be ashamed of that process is to be ashamed of being human. Don’t be ashamed of who you were, be proud of who you are!
Happy Pride Month 2017