It was a dark and stormy night. A cautious figure entered a haunted house with an eye for revenge. OK, it wasn’t a stormy night—it was more like a sunny September morning. Maybe the cautious figure wasn’t actually a figure at all, it was just me entering kindergarten for the first time. But the revenge part was real. Even at four years old, I felt like being shipped off to school was clearly my mom just punishing me for existing, as if being the middle child wasn’t tough enough.
From that moment on began my journey to becoming the angsty child, pre-teen and teenager who I would be for the next 20 years.
When you’re 16 years old, a good day can come and go but the bad days, those are catastrophic. My first day of Grade 11 was a whammy. Not only was I the only one of my friends who didn’t harbour a secret summer crush, but I also went through the entire morning without realizing that I was on my period. Thank you to the cute guy in my algebra class who I would proceed to never make eye contact with again, for pointing it out.
I’m 25 years old now. I’ve stopped wishing for an earthquake to devour me whenever I realize a crush is one-sided (the algebra class romance was never meant to happen). I did somehow eventually grow out of my teenage angst and the obsession with getting revenge on my mom for doing literally nothing wrong.
Maybe inspired by my journey, you too can become moderately well-adjusted by the time you hit your mid-twenties—hopefully.
Here are three life changing chapters of my life that shaped me into becoming the somewhat emotionally intelligent person I am today:
Chapter 1: The passive-aggressive tantrums
What do you get when you combine an ignored middle child with an oversized department store? The need for attention at all costs, of course.
I was never a fan of the conventional tantrum—I always needed to go bigger. The whole screaming and crying on the floor fiasco just wasn’t my vibe because that’s exactly what my mom would've expected. Unfortunately for her, I would shake things up a bit by playing an innocent round of department store hide and seek where my mom never knew she was in on the game.
The results were priceless. I would sneak off and hide between tall shelves, lock myself in dingy changing rooms for way too long and do anything to get my mom worked up. It was the same old routine: I would hide, she would panic and the store would eventually announce my name on the loudspeakers asking if I would please come visit the customer service desk. Then, my mom would give me the same old lecture and swear that one of these days she was going to put me on a leash or whatever.
My bratty, passive-aggressive tantrums came to an abrupt end though, when I realized my older brother’s efforts were much better at getting my mom’s attention. Turns out, his idea of just talking instead of giving everyone the silent treatment was actually more effective. Who would’ve thought? So remember, communication is key.
Chapter 2: Forget the epic summer romance, it all sucks
The only thing I could think about as the June before my junior year neared its sweaty end was that high school summers are magical—even more than the holiday season.
Every summer, my friends and I had only one goal: have an epic summer romance. If you were lucky enough to get a job at a far-off sleepaway camp, your epic summer romance was basically guaranteed. One girl I knew bragged about having her first kiss on the July 1 weekend with a guy who worked at the deli counter at our local Walmart. God, I wanted that so bad.
The idea of working a summer job only to have a passionate yet fleeting romance with someone who lives impossibly far away was my dream. What is romance if not imagining yourself as the “insert Y/N” in the most cliched Wattpad stories with a black and white One Direction member’s gif in every chapter? For me, a gal stuck in the sleepy suburbs with my grandparents every summer meant that the odds of having an epic summer romance were slim. OK, closer to negative 10 per cent. Truly, there is nothing worse for a 16-year-old girl than seeing her friends fall in love without her.
Not experiencing that romance can be heartbreaking in itself and sometimes there’s a void that only depressing music can fill. Load up on The Smiths, Death Cab for Cutie and My Chemical Romance while you relish in loneliness. The TikTok girlies are right, sometimes we just need to like our own company. Once you’re an adult, you’ll learn how to romanticize summer sunsets all by yourself with a *insert super expensive vintage camera*. But for now? Let your emo flag fly high.
Chapter 3: What are we even doing?
No one ever talks about how long it takes you to actually feel like an adult after legally becoming one. Okay sure, you’re technically an adult when you turn 18, but does that really mean much if your mom still has to make appointments for you and asks where you’re going every time you leave the house?
I didn’t really feel like an adult until I was at the ripe age of 20, when I went on basically the worst first date ever. By the time he was done criticizing my hair, makeup and outfit, we hadn’t even finished our appetizers nor did I feel like eating anything else. I knew it was time for me to make my escape.
High school me would have called my mom, but the adult in me had to be creative. In my defence, he really left me no choice. I mean, who takes a vegan to Swiss Chalet on a first date? Being a real adult is all about being resourceful. So if you find yourself trapped in an all-chicken restaurant with a man who admits he forgot your name, you might just have to climb out of a bathroom window. Here’s a tip: always wear sturdy boots because sometimes the bathroom counters can be slippery. But after an hour, you can text him saying there was a family emergency. Personally, I prefer not to end relationships via text, but sometimes they really leave you no choice. The lesson? You’d be surprised how often life grants you a literal window of opportunity when you feel trapped.
Is that really all it takes to become an emotionally mature pubescent? Communication, self-assurance and getting dumped? Yes but also no. Growing up is weird; all you can do is try and fail. You’ll flunk a class, your crush will ignore you, your best friend will tell you that your haircut sucks, maybe you’ll get lice, someone will forget your birthday or your printer will inevitably jam when you need to hand in a paper. So what? Just because it feels like the end of the world doesn’t mean it is. That’s what being a teen is for. Embrace everything that sucks; you’ll be grown up before you know it. Hopefully, these life lessons will help remind you that everything isn’t nearly as bad as it seems.
From the mind of a 25-year-old: How I became an emotionally intelligent adult
Go from emo to extravagant with these life lessons