My coming of age began with physical self-acceptance and it didn’t start until age twenty-two, after years of abuse. Of course it’s an ongoing story that all of us fight, but I know, for me, until now I haven’t looked or felt better physically. This is the part of the movie where the main character puts her/his glasses on after the classic straighten-hair-and-removes-glasses make over and realized s/he’s just as beautiful without the makeover. My Dad use to, as we called it, preach to us. He would ramble on about how life is, what to expect within society and be brutally honest about who we were or how we were behaving at that point in time. I didn’t understand then but what I do understand now is, to quote my dad as well as the fabulous RuPaul, “You must love yourself before loving someone else”. This saying is so simple, yet so true and should be a life mantra for everyone. You cannot give what you do not have. This applies to everything and even after hearing it almost every day for over ten years from one of the only men in my life that loves me unconditionally, I didn’t get it. Up until my mid-twenties I held onto unhealthy relationships including toxic friendships. I didn’t realize how much this impacted my inner self (fancy psychology term I don’t really understand on paper, but understand emotionally). Growing up, and often now while living overseas, when I speak up about situations that aren’t right I was, and still am considered “sensitive”. My parents tried the tough love thing on me when I would come home crying because a peer called me a “Fat bitch that shops at Bi-Way” (Toronto, specifically Scarborough people know what Bi-Way is) or when another classmate who pretended to not be my friend at recess even though we played together all weekend. These mild instances and many more intense encounters ultimately trained me to suppress my feelings, second guess myself, and intense anger issues that I didn’t know how to control. I’m still working on it, but eventually I realized what my dad (and RuPaul) said is true. Charity begins at home (another one of my dad’s favourites) and you have to start at the root. My over-promising just so people would like me, stopped. I started processing my feelings and realizing they are valid. Eventually I’ve become confident and vocal about what, how, and why I feel the way I do being able to articulate and accept my feelings. This self and honest reflection is the part of the film where the Paul Walker (RIP) type best friend is the worst person and the main character finally realizes it. This, in my personal experience has been the most important part of my coming of age experience because that best friend, you know the terrible one, is actually within yourself.
Society and media have a way of getting in your head. Subconsciously you can find yourself comparing your life to someone of another consequence. To go back to my dad’s preaching, he would often tell us that “you can’t compare yourself to others” and reminded us that though society might tell us one thing, that “there is no age limit”. Personally, this has been the biggest struggle. Getting to my coming of age “late” comes with a lot of societal guilt and burden. I matured early and of course have been responsible however, coming into where I am now, I’ve made decisions for myself to live my best life that isn’t societally popular. Up until twenty-six I did everything that was told to me societally. I studied, I finished, I worked great jobs, I paid my student loan every month, I tried to save, and I went on vacation once a year. Though I was doing everything “right” I wasn’t feeling mentally present. This is the part in the movie that the main character realizes that s/he’s too advanced for school. Think Lisa Simpson in every Simpsons episode. I made the choice to make a change and live my dream of travel and personal writing. It sounds easy as I write this down but breaking away from the societal norm and knowing that I won’t own a house, or have a family by the time everyone else will or when we’re told we’re supposed to (or possibly ever) is hard because that’s how we have been conditioned to think. My life overseas isn’t glamourous. I work “basic” jobs and utilize every cent to travel the surrounding areas and save for the next big move (visas and moving countries is really expensive!). Thankfully throughout this process of coming to age, I’ve created an amazing support group of girlfriends, my family that includes my preach-y dad, my hilarious brother and sister, and my over supportive mother who constantly tells me she loves me and comments (and shares) every FaceBook post and picture with irrelevant emojis and improper spelling and punctuation (it’s honestly the cutest thing). If it wasn’t for my mental development and their support, I don’t think I would get to this point of my journey.
Some people peak in high school, some in university or college, but for me it doesn’t seem that I’m there yet, and that’s okay! It took thirty years to get to this point of physical, emotional, and mental love and devotion and I know it will only get better. This is the part of the film that’s unwritten but assumed. Think Breakfast Clubs last scene, don’t you, forget about me.