I've found myself browsing through old photos these past few days, reminiscing about the days of ill advised hairstyles, questionable outfit choices, silly friends, and ridiculous behaviour...
Remember that time when you were so blissfully unaware that things should be done a certain way and that growing up came with an unwritten rule book and a long list of harsh realities? When it didn't occur to you to think you should be anything else other than what you are? When you felt utterly uncomfortable in your own skin most of the time but you kind of loved yourself anyway? When you lived in the present, were free to experiment, get things wrong, and felt so damn sure that you could make something happen, because youthful optimism is a real thing?
I'm not sure when it started to evaporate - possibly the day before our year 12 results were released and my parents told me they'd charge me board unless I went to university. Possibly when I got my first job post uni which numbed my brain and primed me for a life full of professional boredom. Possibly when I realised I'd gained too much weight to wear singlet tops without being judged. Possibly when I bought my first apartment and regretfully settled in for a lifetime of mortgage repayments. Possibly when I took all my piercings out and cut off my long hair because that's what grown ups do.
Maybe this is what it is to get older - to feel nostalgic about days in the recent past when you felt different - lighter. When the sense of possibility was palpable and it didn't occur to you that it might one day not be there.
I feel like that's a lot of what our cultural obsession with youth (youthful looks, youthful identity, youthful thinking) is all about - selling lost youth to those who wish they could hold on to it for just a little bit longer.
But I think what I'm realising is that the things we're missing from our long ago (or not so long ago) age of innocence should belong to us at any age - this is the natural human state. Living in the present, making impulsive decisions, coming from a place of possibility.
Granted, life can be hard. Adulting is hard and there's a lot of fucked up shit happening in the world. But the "hard" we're worried about isn't the real hard stuff. Not really. And the difference is that when I was young I had unbounded energy to tackle obstacles and take on new challenges. I lived life with the attitude that everything was surmountable, or even if it wasn't we would have fun coming to terms with reality.
So that's what I want my 2017 to be about - that youthful feeling of possibility, energy, lightness. And holding on to the youthful optimism I had as a teenager and hope to have for years to come.