An Unexpected Birthday Speech

bilbo-party-speech[1]Happy Hobbit Day! September twenty-second is the birthday of both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. For such small creatures, hobbits certainly do throw big celebrations. They also have a tradition of giving speeches at every important occasion and during the “Long-Expected Party” on his eleventy-first birthday, Bilbo gave a speech that, shall we say, rather surprised the residents of the Shire.

As today is my seventeenth birthday, I think I’ll give a little speech too.

“Seventeen. Wow. Cue the geeky jokes – now I’m an adult in the Wizarding world, now I can be Matched, now I’m half the way towards coming of age in hobbit years. But seriously, I can’t believe it. It’s scary to think that now in less than a year I’ll be an adult. I could vote. I could get married (well, not in my state, but you know what I mean). I’ll be heading off to college shortly thereafter. It seems too soon.

I shall explain my feelings in the best way I know: through more geekiness. About a week ago, my brother and I watched the Tenth Doctor’s finale. We had very different reactions when Ten looked so sad and said, “I don’t want to go” right before he regenerated. Quentin thought he was being melodramatic. I, however, can relate to how the Doctor felt. I like what I have now. I don’t want to move on. I don’t want to grow up.

There. I’ve said it. That probably sounded immature, but it’s true. I know that there are all sorts of adventures that come with being an adult – having a first job and living on one’s own and falling in love – but those things are precisely what I worry about.

First of all, I don’t do well with change. I’m not sure if this is due to nature or nuture – am I like this just because, or is it related to what my life has been like? I’ve only moved once and it wasn’t very far away and I barely even remember it. I’ve only changed schools once. No one I love has died; I haven’t even had a major fight with a friend that led to us splitting up. I’m not saying that such things are fantastic, but my lack of experience with them makes me worry about stuff like going away to college and drifting apart from people because our lives are going in separate directions.

Secondly, the adult world seems so big. It’s filled with so many big decisions to make and I’m scared of failure. These two things do not combine well, as you may have guessed. I worry about messing up and making the wrong decision. What college should I attend? What should I major in? What sort of job do I really want (and is it more important that I make plenty of money or do something that I adore)? Whom do I want to marry? Where do I want to live? Why do I even have to think about these things?

It’s not that I don’t want the responsibility. Responsibility is actually kind of cool. I love it that my parents trust me to drive safely or do well in school. It’s a good feeling. My problem is that I don’t like big responsibilities. I worry about whether I can handle them. Whether I’ll disappoint myself or more importantly, others. Getting As in school is nothing compared to choosing a career. Getting As is a short-term thing; picking a career is about what I want to spend my life doing.

I guess what it all comes down to is being happy. I haven’t had to make many big decisions in my life thus far and I will in days to come. I worry most about being happy but sometimes that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing because happiness is important. Isn’t it the whole point of life?

Well, this post was certainly more angsty than I intended. To make up for that, I shall pull a Bilbo. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. I wish to make an announcement. I regret to announce that this is the end of the post. I am going. I am leaving now. Goodbye!”


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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33 Responses to An Unexpected Birthday Speech

  1. Mz Maralyn says:

    It is natural to fear the future, failure or even success. Remember that some of the most successful people have failed first in their life. It has helped them grow stronger.

    β€œYou speak of being afraid. Yet fear is something you generate in yourself, from your mind’s lack of control; and you will learn to look at it and discover for yourself when you choose to be afraid. The first thing you must do is acknowledge that the fear is yours, and you can bid it come and go at will. Begin with this; whenever you feel fear that prevents choice say to yourself: ‘What has made me feel fear? Why have I chosen to feel this fear preventing my choice, instead of feeling the freedom to choose?’ Fear is a way of not allowing yourself to choose freely what you will do next; a way of letting your body’s reflexes, not the needs of your mind, choose for you. …[Y]ou have chosen to do nothing, so that none of the things you fear will come upon you; so your choices are not made by you but by your fear. … I cannot promise to free you of your fear, only that a time will come when you are the master, and fear will not paralyze you.”
    ― Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stormqueen!

  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! πŸ˜€ *Cue streamers, confetti, and party toys that make annoying elephant/trumpet sounds* (And by the way, I was getting ready to make that Harry Potter joke before you even mentioned it. But you still haven’t gotten your letter yet? Me neither. How strange).

    I wish I could bestow some adult-y wisdom on you, but I’m still a kid. XD Sorry! So I’ll leave you with a random quote. Do what you like with it: “Not all those who wander are lost.” — Tolkien

  3. Mom says:

    I understand your fear of failure. Imagine bringing home eight pounds of trusting, happy baby and hoping that whatever you do for the next seventeen years, you don’t fail as a parent. I think you’ve turned out wonderfully and will make the best decisions. Trust yourself.

  4. Artgirl says:

    Neville, did you steal my brain? I worry about all the same things. Lucky for me I’m only a sophomore this year.

  5. Artgirl says:

    Oh, and I forgot to wish you a happy birthday in my comment, so happy birthday!!

  6. Boquinha says:

    Happy birthday to one of my favorite young adult bloggers! I’m so glad that you and my daughter are blogging friends. πŸ™‚ You are so clearly a terrific person – it’s natural to feel scared, but don’t worry about failure. What’s failure anyway? Failure according to whom? It’s about experience. You’ll do just fine. Have you met you? I agree with your mom – trust yourself.

    Hope you have a great birthday!

  7. Wahey, happy birthday and all that, many happy returns, and I totally identify with the fear of the unexpected future. For lack of something else to say, I shall wander off in search of the cake.

  8. Taylor Lynn says:

    Happy, happy birthday, Nevillegirl!! πŸ˜€

    I can relate regarding the fear of the adult world, although personally I’m kind of torn. On the one hand, there are a lot of things that come with growing up that I’m excited for; but at the same time, my life is easy and comfortable right now, too, and I like it that way. Next year, though, I not only plan to learn to drive and get my license, but also to graduate from high school, get my GED and start taking college courses. It’ll be one thing after another for awhile there, and those are all huge steps for me: things that make me feel both excited and scared, and that I know are major stepping stones on the way to adulthood and independence. And while I’m very much looking forward to some parts of adulthood, other parts make me incredibly nervous, and I can’t believe that I’m nearly old enough for certain responsiblities–you’re right, it does seem too soon!

    I’m not really sure where this ramble is going, honestly; I guess I just wanted to say that I think I get where you’re coming from, at least a bit. However, seventeen is pretty exciting, and you’ve still got at least a year before you have to tackle adulthood, so enjoy it! And I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you so very much! I’m happy to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way.
      So you waited to learn to drive?

      • Taylor Lynn says:

        Yeah, I did. I felt extremely nervous about driving when I turned sixteen, and even though I decided to start learning, I soon gave up on that. (I’d printed out the beginning of the Driver’s Manual, but I was SO BORED trying to read it that I decided, since I was already nervous and I didn’t really NEED to know how to drive, it wasn’t something I wanted to tackle yet.) But my sister Jordan turns sixteen in the spring, so we’re going to get our permits, take driver’s ed, and all that jazz together; then by the time I turn eighteen I should be about ready to get my license and hope to be able to drive myself to college when I start taking courses next fall. That’s the plan, anyway! πŸ˜‰

  9. orphu44 says:

    Happy birthday!
    *clings to you while staring into the future and sharing your worries*

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you!
      *gently declingerizes you while she has an idea*
      I should get Professor Trelawney to predict our futures… but she’d probably just tell us that THE GRIM IS NEAR.

  10. doctormark says:

    Happy (belated) birthday! I’ll agree with boquinha–I’m very glad you and our daughter are blogging friends. With the way our society uses age so arbitrarily, I think a lot of teens feel some apprehension about turning 18. In many ways, teens act more “adult” long before society considers them to be. And in many ways, adults act far more juvenile than their ages indicate. That’s the beauty of life, though. Be who you want to be when you want to be. You don’t have it all figured out? I’m almost 40 and I still feel like I don’t have much of it figured out. Sometimes I think that the day I have life completely figured out is the day life ceases to be interesting.

    I have learned one thing, though: whatever your educational path is, make sure it’s something you enjoy. And I mean REALLY enjoy. College and grad school are probably the last times when everyone around you will universally accept the fact that you are a full-time student. As life goes on it gets harder and harder to explore new interests or rediscover old ones. It can be done. It just gets a bit trickier, that’s all. Live in the moment, trust yourself (is it OK that we all agree with your mother?), and enjoy every experience life has to offer you. If you do those things I don’t think failure is even a remote possibility.

    You’re a mature “kid.” I’m sure your life will end up being whatever it is you want it to be.

    P.S. My wife is an adult, but she’s the first one to stick her head out the car window and moo at cows.

    • Bwa ha ha! XD THat P.S. is so true! (Seriously, she’ll do it before any of my friends do).

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you!

      And thanks for the advice. It makes me feel better about the kind of stuff I’d like to focus on in college: Journalism, Creative Writing, Women’s Studies, and Gay/Lesbian Studies. I’m not very fond of explaining what I want to study someday and sometimes I don’t even mention the last two subjects, all because people have been like, “Why would you want to do THAT?!” Because I FREAKING WANT TO, that’s why. I don’t care if I never use it in a job – why can’t I learn something for fun?

      Thhhbbbppttt, me, mature.

      Hmmm, I don’t do that. I should start. I’m sure the cows would love me.

      • doctormark says:

        That is the perfect answer to that question. There was a time that education was all about making sure a person had a well-rounded experience within and view of the world. I wish more people kept that attitude as they pursue their degrees.


    You know, Tennant’s “I don’t want to go.” thing was actually improvised last-minute. He was supposed to stay completely silent, but he decided to ad-lib and thus a beautiful absolutely heart-wrenching moment was born.

  12. Pingback: Quarterly Rewind, Fall 2013 – Music, Maggie Stiefvater, And More | Musings From Neville's Navel

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