A Portrait Of The Author As A Young Woman

I’m sixteen now. Happy birthday to Frodo and Bilbo Baggins as well!

As a bookworm, I don’t care so much about being closer to getting my driver’s license. This is probably completely weird, but I love to read a book where one of the characters is the same age as myself. I love to think about how we’re similar and how we’re different. I wonder what I would have done if I were that character.

I would be learning how to Apparate, discovering Voldemort’s past, excelling at Potions, and fighting Death Eaters (again) if I were Harry Potter. Of course, that would also mean that I was a scrawny git with glasses, so no thanks, although I do already have the glasses. If I were Katniss Everdeen, I would be fighting to the death in the arena. I think I could fight Death Eaters, but I’m not particularly brave for a 16-year-old. I would run away screaming from the Bloodbath. Actually, I would probably trip over something and not make it past the first day.

All this has been on my mind during the past few days, but I forgot about it while my friends were over. I had a pretty low-key sweet sixteen; I had three friends over and we just hung out.

We talked for a while in my room and then went downstairs for a yummy dinner of red Thai curry and a birthday cake frosted like a smiley face. It was great! I named the cake Herbert. Later, we played Mad Libs.

It was fairly late when we started watching The Hunger Games, one of my presents. We enthusiastically said Effie’s lines along with her and went, “Ooh!” whenever we saw a favorite character. We also discussed how Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) is cuter than Liam Hemsworth (Gale) because Hemsworth looks too much like Robert Pattinson (Edward in the Twilight movies). We didn’t go to bed until about two in the morning because we decided to watch the special feature about how The Hunger Games was made, which was fascinating. All of us were so exhausted that we didn’t wake up until fifteen minutes before my friends’ parents were coming to pick them up, and we only woke up because my mom knocked on my door really loudly.

It was wonderful to see my friend Katelyn. I barely remembered what she looked like anymore; we’d only met once before and hadn’t seen each other in 15 months. (We write letters to stay in touch.) She was just as awesomely nerdy as I remembered. Well, I’m sure she has changed, but I didn’t notice it that much. I, on the other hand, have changed a lot.

It’s weird to think about how much a person can change in a year. I don’t think I’m the same girl as I was last year. I’m definitely similar, but I feel like I’ve changed so much since last September. I have a far better sense of who I really am. It seems so strange that I didn’t know most of this stuff a year ago.

First and foremost, I’m a writer. I participated in and won NaNoWriMo last November and I really do think it changed my life. I’d always liked writing, but NaNo showed me that I could do anything I set my mind to. Which included writing. I did more writing during that month that I ever had before. I discovered just how much I loved putting my stories down on paper – or rather, on a computer screen.

I began to blog a bit more frequently and realized that I loved to write for it even more than I loved to write stories. I would say that I have had three ‘blogging revolutions’, which I define as a time when I began to write frequent, longer, more thoughtful posts. The first was in mid-March, when I began the 30-Day Blogging Challenge and decided not to abandon my blog for long stretches of time as I had before. The second was in June, when I posted quite a bit about Camp NaNoWriMo. The third began in late July. I have posted nearly every day since then.

But a year ago, my love of writing was still rather vague. I liked writing, definitely. Sometimes I even loved it. I had this hazy idea that I would be an author someday – and I was serious about it. And yet I wasn’t. I guess a year ago it just seemed so much further away, more like a dream than reality.

A year ago, I was not clueless about what career I wanted to have. You see, that’s because I wanted to have a ton of careers. But that’s not very helpful in deciding what college major I should have, now is it? I wanted to be a chef, primarily. Add that to a dozen other jobs I found interesting. Around half a year ago, I thought about it really hard and realized that I didn’t want to be a chef. (And shortly afterwards, I ended up working part-time at a restaurant, but let’s not dwell too much on that irony, shall we?) I’ve now narrowed down my career interests. I definitely want to be an author and a comedian. I may also decide to pursue paleontology, acting, history, or photography.

I have a clearer mental image of the rest of my future as well. I’d love to move to a foreign country simply because I love learning about cultures. The UK, Australia, New Zealand, or Spain are all possibilities. Why the heck is Spain on that list? Because I think it would be just as cool to live in mainland Europe as it would be to live in the UK. And I don’t speak Greek or French, but I am fairly far along in the process of learning Spanish. So Spain is kind of the default country. On the other hand, their unemployment rate is apparently over 20%, so maybe I’m not moving there if I want to continue to eat and have a roof over my head.

What this all means is that I’d rather go to college abroad than in the United States because I think it will be easier to find a job and a home and everything if I’ve already been in another country for a while. I’ve been looking at the websites of several British universities lately. I should probably start looking into what tests I’d need to take since I won’t have GCSEs and A-Levels and whatever else. (NEWTs?) Sorry, Mom and Dad. I know you think that’s too far away for me to go. I haven’t really even talked about it much until now because I know that it’s not what you want me to do. But I really, really want to do this. I think I will save all my job earnings for college because it’ll probably cost a lot.

I’ve become more open-minded in the past year, in so many ways. I was never exactly closed-minded before; I’ve just become still more open-minded.

I used to think that all new music was bad. I suppose I felt this way because I’d heard some new music that was bad; I didn’t like the lyrics or the beat or whatever. Then I realized, slowly, that one could love both the Beatles and Adele. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s plenty of good new music out there and liking it – even loving it – is not somehow an insult to older music.

One change that I think is most noticeable is my increased girliness. (Yes, I know the correct word is ‘femininity’ which is actually quite a fun word to say and type because of all the repeating consonants alternating with I. But I think the word ‘girliness’ is cooler. Alright, digression over.) When I was younger, I used to think that being girly was icky. I suspect that this was caused by some girls who were my classmates during the three years I attended public school. They were very girly and not very nice. I didn’t want to be like them. I think I was also tired of wearing pink. I’m still not a fan of the color, except for certain shades and then still only in moderation.

But finally, I’ve realized that it’s OK for me to be girly. I am still not what you would call a girly girl. I’m not that girly. But I used to think that if I acted or dressed that way, then I was dumbing myself down. A lot of girls who coincidentally are girly do dumb themselves down. I realized that it isn’t weird to love science and necklaces. Or bugs and purple. You get the idea. I’ve discovered that other people’s definition of girl doesn’t matter that much. It is far more important to be yourself, and if that means that some of your favorite books are ridiculous pink lit (the teen version of chick lit) and some are science fiction, then that’s perfectly normal. I’ve realized that the world is not going to end

Of course, with all this change comes awkwardness. People still act like I was the same person I was a while ago – I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve heard from friends and their parents about, “Nevillegirl’s actually wearing a necklace? A necklace?” Insert many, many variations on this. I’m not angry or even frustrated at them. Yes, I’ve heard it a lot, but on the other hand, I spent about half my life trying to be as ungirly as possible. It takes a while for people to adapt to the change.

I’m guessing that people like my parents and grandparents are amazed. “She’s sixteen already?!” But there is surely no one more amazed than myself. I can remember being six, five, perhaps even four. How did ten years go by so quickly? It seems like just yesterday I was boarding the school bus on my first day of kindergarten.

Turning sixteen both terrifies and thrills me.

I’m scared because I now have less than two years until I’m an adult. I will still be living at home because I’ll be eighteen for most of my senior year in high school, but after that, I’ll be on my own. It’s not as if I can’t feed myself or whatever. I know how to cook. I’m not worried about that part. I don’t know exactly what has me worried. I guess the thought of being on my own just scares me a bit. I’ve always appreciated all that my parents do for me, but suddenly I appreciate them even more. What am I going to do when they’re not there to help me out? I guess I’ll keep myself calm by thinking of a quote by Hagrid from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “No good sittin’ worryin’ abou’ it… What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.”

On the other hand, turning sixteen elates me. I’m closer to being an adult. It won’t be too long until I’ll be in college. I have no idea if I’ll get married or have kids; I’m sixteen, so I don’t need to make up my mind on that yet. But hey, I’m that much closer to either of the two things if they’re what I decide I want!

I’ll probably change still more in the years to come, but I do feel that I’ve grown a lot in the past year. Sadly, none of that growth was related to height – I’m still 5’4″. But I’m far more sure of myself now. I think I’m closer to who I’ll be as an adult.

So here I am. A smart sixteen-year-old girl who loves to write, is very ambitious, and possesses a distinctly odd sense of humor. It’s weird to see myself grow up.


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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17 Responses to A Portrait Of The Author As A Young Woman

  1. Happy 16th birthday Nevillegirl! Your birthday sleepover sounds really fun; it’s better watching Hunger Games with friends, isn’t it?
    Oh, and on the point of your increased girliness and girliness in general… I’m considered by quite a lot of people to be girly-girl, but I’m also one of the best students in my class. The girly girls you mentioned might’ve been dumbing themselves down for a certain reason, like the women did in like, the 1800s, where if you were a woman and smart, you wouldn’t be that ideal of a catch or something like that.
    Anyway, happy birthday again!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thanks!! It’s more fun to watch any movie with friends because you can quote stuff and make stupid comments. xD

      Yes, I realize now that girly girl =/= idiot. But I used to think that. I can’t see why people don’t like smart people, though. I don’t want anyone stupid…

  2. tomte says:

    Happy sixteen! 😀 Wow, I never thought about putting my age into Harry Potter, as then I would be still shocked by the fact that I have a godfather. Don’t know where I would be in the Hunger Games. And by the way, my parents keep hinting that pretty soon I’ll be driving cars(as in the ones you would drive down the highway-they are still surprised to hear that I am THAT close to having a drivers license) and will be out of their control soon, it still kinda freaks me out. I don’t do well alone and up at midnight in an empty house. My brain likes what if situations, so I stay awake thinking what if? What if? I hope I get over this before I leave for college……

  3. nevillegirl says:

    People tell me that too. Well, they used to more often when I was younger. When I was 13 or 14 some people thought I was in college. They must not know me very well because they thought I was mature… Mwahahaha! I’m 5 at heart! No, wait, since my birthday was yesterday, now I’m 6 at heart. ^_^

    How tall are you? I bet you’re taller than I am. Almost everyone is.

  4. Miriam Joy says:

    Low key birthday. Loki. Ha ha ha.
    (I’m good at the irrelevant comments, aren’t I?)

    Hmmm, interesting. I don’t know what tests you’d need to take either, but my mum’s a careers advisor so I expect she does. She’s been helping students apply for American uni so she probably knows the reverse procedure. I’ll ask her!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Haha. So am I. I say things like, “Glitter!” and probably leave the other blogger going, “Wait, what…?”

      Ooh, thank you thank you thank you times a billion and three! (Which is awesomer than just plain old billion. Totally.)

      *would virtually-hug Miriam so hard that it causes her eyes to squish out, but decides against that because it would probably be hard to get them back in even in the World of Virtualness*

      I think on one US-to-UK uni site I found something that just says take lots of AP/CLEP/SAT II tests, but I don’t know if that’s true. So. *eagerly awaits a reply*

      *cough* What I really need is advice for how to convince my parents to LET me study abroad. xD But you probably can’t help with that, no offense…

      • Miriam Joy says:

        Ehehe, that’s all right, I wouldn’t try and persuade parents I’ve never met. Though I’m good at persuasive writing so… emails? XD
        Asking the mother person will have to wait as she’s gone to Birmingham for the weekend and left me alone in the house (and ’tis Doctor Who! eek) so when she returns tomorrow evening I will ask her.

        • nevillegirl says:

          xD “[nevillegirl], who’s this Miriam who keeps sending us emails?”

          Me: “I don’t know, but I think she’s probably quite cool. And maybe you should listen to her.”

          OK! Have fun watching Doctor Who!

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