You Young Kids

(…and your flying machines!)

Even though I’ve advanced from two schools because I’m too old for them, and I’m technically an adult at this point, I’ve always considered myself a young person, not just in that I have fifty-odd years left to live, but because my exploits and achievements in life are largely potential, rather than actual; even if my greatest victory so far is the 600 hours I put into Football Manager 2013, I’ve still got decades to do something more worthwhile.

And so it has always been a surprise to see younger people apparently achieve more: a friend of mine completed his maths GCSEs in year six, while I waited until year eleven with everyone else; Wayne Rooney scored his first Premiership goal at sixteen. More worryingly, a blogger I recently followed published a novel at sixteen, while eighteen-year-old me has only got a few sticky notes and emptied Trash bins to show for his preferred career.

But I’m not going to moan that these people are ‘better’ than me simply because they did stuff sooner; the first YouTube comment is certainly not necessarily the most meaningful (especially if its just a ‘FIRST!’), and the ‘slow and steady wins the race’ idea is certainly relevant for something like writing, which is often based partially on personal experience. I am going to moan, however, about the greater maturity of these people to attempt the kind of things adults do when still children; it must take a great deal of self-confidence, determination and ambition to attempt these things at a young age, while sixteen-year-old James was concerned primarily with playing InFamous 2.

I wonder if these traits of maturity can be learned, then, or obtained through working towards them; I’m not the greatest English student in history, but I think I work quite hard, so shouldn’t I be able to develop my own maturity, and compete with adults at a much younger age, just be working at it?

Sadly not; I feel a lot of these traits are based on experience – Wayne Rooney can play in the Premiership at sixteen because he spent ten years in Everton’s youth academy, being prepared mentally and physically to play in the Premiership – so while maturity can be gained over time, it seems it can only be gained through opportunities presented to yourselves by others, rather than anything we can make any great strides towards ourselves.

This is why I feel uncomfortable with people telling me I’ll do well at University, because I have no experience of working and thinking at that level, and it will probably take a considerable amount of time to adapt to a more sophisticated (and adult) way of approaching literature.

Equally, I don’t want my lack of experience to be a hinderance; if I want to write, I’m going to write. And I think the writing that I do now – throwing around novel ideas and blogging to an audience of overwhelmingly appreciative, engaged people – is a happy medium; I don’t want to wait until I reach some arbitrary age to start writing, but I also don’t know if I have the desire or strength of character to try publishing anything, given that, as far as I can see, trying to get a book deal is an exercise in having one’s hopes and dreams crushed.

So I might not be tough enough to be a professional writer while still at school, but I’ll try to get there eventually; I’ve got my half-century before me, not behind me, to attempt such things.

– The fancy teenage writer I mentioned – Shannon A Thompson


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