Hang On To Your Youth, Even When Society Expects You To Grow Up

Growing, ready or not.

I was a late bloomer. This always bothered me because I was surrounded by girls who were always two steps ahead. I had a best friend who was all tits and tampons well before me, and sisters who were happily sporting their double Ds. While me -- I was stuck with little mozzie bites you could barely see.

I was desperate to grow up, to graduate from butterfly clips to a belly button ring. I remember a friend showing my sister and I her first pubic hair. It was this big event. We walked out to the middle of our farm's paddock for privacy; she pulled down her pants and pointed out the one sole hair. I was enamoured -- I wanted some of these black curly things! Who knew years later I'd spend a pretty penny and many painful hours fighting to get rid of them.

Puberty for me was bittersweet. The changes (finally) came; hair, blood, boobs and moods, but so did the expectations. Suddenly, I was expected to act like a woman. Gone were the days of sitting sans undies, cross-legged and carefree.

Why does naked frolicking in sprinklers with friends suddenly have to stop?

As a kid I used to run from the bathroom to my bedroom stark naked -- fresh from the shower I felt free and uninhibited. My family were my obliged audience and they never cared, until now. I distinctly remember my Mum sitting me down and explaining it was inappropriate for me to continue this morning ritual now that I was a woman. I get it now, I imagine it got wildly uncomfortable for Dad who was seeing his baby girl grow into a buxom, full-breasted babe, but at the time I remember thinking 'wow, being a woman sucks'.

I felt this dichotomy -- a yearning to grow up versus a wanting to stay the same. I couldn't do both, which is something I still don't fully understand. Why does naked frolicking in sprinklers with friends suddenly have to stop?

I guess you start becoming sexy (also running with no bra starts being not so fun). But I feel like girls in particular aren't given a chance to ease into sexuality. Your body changes and all of a sudden everything you did as a kid transforms into erotica; licking an ice cream, pillow fights, pool parties, Twister. My body had jumped ahead but my head was still unknowing and innocent.

Moreover, things I loved were suddenly not kosher in my new adult life. I had to let go of stuffed toys, acting in home movies, building pillow forts and cubby houses. One of my happiest memories, which plays like a Super 8 movie, is of me and my sisters navigating a ship (mattresses piled four high) through the Bermuda triangle (for some reason we were obsessed with the Bermuda triangle and I still have no idea why). We were all young with nothing but fun and adventure on our minds.

I don't want to finish with this post with something trite like a plea to treasure your youth. Rather, fight to keep it -- everything fun, unrestrained, blithe and bold. Don't let societal constructs or third-party opinion shape you. Take whatever you like along with you into adulthood, from that Spice Girls Impulse to that half-up half-down hair do.

Just do you.