When I was sixteen, I was the only one in my grade eleven class not to take lunchtime swing dance lessons. The lessons were meant to prepare students for the dancing component of the Grade Twelve Graduation, and I was a graduate’s date. In class, when every other student stood up to leave early for the first lesson, a boy looked over to find me still sitting in my desk.
“What’s wrong, Katie? Too cool for swing?”
(He was being a prick and his friends laughed.)
I looked back at him.
And I stand by that yup.
But the unfortunate thing is, that at sixteen, I was ‘too cool’ not just for pretentious rich-kid swing dance lessons, but for most things. Fun things. I was too cool to bike ride, too cool to sing, too cool to try out anything I hadn’t already mastered, to cool to show any enthusiasm at all really. I had no hobbies, but no time either. I used to wake up at 5am just to do my hair, make sure everything about me was as perfect as I could manage, terrified to show any signs of imperfection. I was so unsure of myself that the only things I let myself find ‘fun’ were self-destructive, stupid and boring, or at least, very, very quiet. And this was a very uncomfortable way to live, because I’m naturally enthusiastic and smart and passionate and excited by lots of different things.
The very unfortunate thing is I’ve spent most of my life in some variant of unsure sixteen.
But when I was twelve…
When I was twelve, I had a treehouse that my mom helped me turn into a writer’s studio. I wrote Anne of Green Gables fan fiction and very ambitious nature poems on a typewriter propped on top of a milk crate. I had big coke bottle glasses and didn’t have time to brush my hair because who can deal with such superficial junk when so many projects are calling? I unapologetically and loudly loved the things I loved, which included the Spice Girls, Weird Al Yankovic, The Rankin Family, politics, my baby brother, my trampoline. I ran in (and won) my grade six class election (I platformed on an end-of-the-year pizza party). I wrote short stories and read them aloud, had them published in the yearbook. I sang “Spice Up Your Life” and performed a choreographed dance in Posh Spice costume in front of my whole school. There was so much I wanted to do and so much that I did, but sometimes, I would just lay on the ground and stare at blades of grass for… who knows how long? I didn’t have a phone or even a watch. I did what was right for me to do, moment to moment. My main goal in life was to write books and eventually become Prime Minister of Canada (I ignored the fact that I wasn’t then a Canadian citizen because I was just so damn sure of myself). Basically, I was the least cool person in the world.
AND LIFE WAS AWESOME.
It was so much fun.
So I’m climbing back into the treehouse.
That’s the resolution this year.
Be More Twelve.