June 18, 2015

That in-between phase. and the perspective therefore afforded. Or, wherein I speak upon teens on the internet.

I spend a lot of time on the internet.

 This has been true since my family first got connected to the web (and less so when I used to book an hour at the library for the privilege of making sure my Neopets were fed, and my email was checked). I was probably thirteen. There was, of course, MSN messenger for chatting with my friends - which didn't go out of vogue until I was about 21. There was the aforementioned Neopets, there was PBSkids.org. There was a whole slew of things to keep me entertained.

As I got older, my usage evolved. Pixel dolling became a major hobby, as did Harry Potter-themed roleplaying, and writing fairly graphic HP lesbian fanfiction. And yes, I say that without a trace of shame. I blogged, too. Well, journalled. Several iterations of my Livejournal still exist, filled with cringe-worthy accounts of my day-to-day, aged 16 to 20.

Social media in its current form wasn't really a 'thing' until I was an adult. I got Facebook at 17. Instagram and Snapchat at 24. At 26, I discovered Twitter and Tumblr. And this, essentially, is where I get confused.

I'm a tried-and-true adult(sometimes); job-working, bill-paying, cat-owning, teenager-hating, responsibility-having, grown up. It's weird. I'm not the 'married with a slew of sprogs' type of adult, nor do I wish to be. But I'm 8 years out from high school. I'm no kid.

I'm 'up' on the Tumblr lingo. I know all the memes. I've developed some of the written mannerisms and found them peppering my own online interactions. But there are some things I still don't understand. Maybe I'm out of touch. Or, maybe, life exerience has given me distance and perspective.

One of the single-oddest things I've encountered, both in the Twitterverse and Tumblr, is what constitutes 'relationship goals'. Dozens of pictures of model-perfect girls and boys smiling in sunsets and holding hands and obsessing over each other. I'd imagine that there was a time I'd wanted that, or something similar. But life didn't pan out like that. And, unless you're conventionally beautiful (and maybe a little wealthy in some cases - look at the locations in these pictures), these aren't realistic 'goals'. On top of the virtually unattainable aesthetic, what gets me is it all seems so .... surface. So shallow. So simple.

I found myself in my first and only relationship entirely by accident at age 20. And from day one, it was a struggle. There's uncertainty, insecurity, and, in my case, a perpetual feeling of inadequacy that lingered until I was 26. But there was also love. There was friendship. There was 'getting' each other.

But my god. There were fights and struggles and issues, some of which were never overcome. And honestly - THAT is all common to relationships, especially long-lasting, adult ones. Perfection was never obtained, and that's fine. My most-perfect-moment happened a scant year in - 2010, together at a Taylor Swift concert, as she played 'Today Was A Fairytale'. I can say, without hesitation, that was the single-most 'in-love' moment I've ever felt in my life. And that's fine. Maybe nothing will top that, maybe it'll be trumped a dozen times over. I don't know, and that's part of life.

Life goals shouldn't be summarized as 'be gorgeous with perfect long hair in size-0 cutoff jean shorts with an underwear-model-pretty boy (or girl) grabbing your waist for pictures'. But that seems to be the main focus of all 'Relatable' or 'Just Girl Things' accounts I follow.

Maybe this means I'm simply Too Damn Old for these accounts - but when they post about the struggle of girls who are always hungry (OH HAI), or loving cats more than people, or wishing there was an extra day of the week just for napping. Maybe some wishes are universal, regardless of age, perspective be damned. Maybe catsnapssnacks is what makes us all human. But, being a little older and a little wiser: your high school boyfriend or girlfriend may, very rarely, be your be-all, end-all. But realistically: that's probably not the case. And that's FINE.

I can't follow 'mommy' blogs or married life. I am not, and may not ever be (my choice) there. But I also can't quite keep up with what teens are dreaming. And hey, that's fine too. In-between isn't the worst place to be.