A trending hashtag, which I promptly answered upon seeing it, got me to thinking about where I was ten years ago.
Looking back, I was lost and uninformed about so many different things. The younger generations that are growing up now, have the benefit of mass information at their fingertips, where I struggled to learn anything about my identity until I was well over 21. The internet of course had reached break neck speeds before I had crested the beginning of adulthood, but it was relatively new, and I was still getting the hang of the information super highway. Thankfully though, I did, because without it, I would not be where I am today.
Who I am, all of me, my sexual orientation, my gender, my neurodivergence, would have all been unknown to me in name, were it not for the internet. Likewise, I wouldn’t have had the vocabulary to describe them. However, with the help of the internet, I learned about other people like me, and figured out that who I am was not some weirdo, but a person with multiple facets to them.
Furthermore, given the sort of toxic messages I had learned from those around me and specific forms of entertainment, such as movies, books, etc. I would have never grown as a person, and realized that the partner I had at the time was all of those terrible YA tropes, wrapped up into a person that I thought I had loved. Once I realized this, I gave myself the agency to leave them, and begin anew. To this day, I celebrate the day I did, as it is when I really began doing what was right for me, and those I care about. It’s a personal holiday to me, honestly.
I say all of this to say that from fifteen to twenty-five, I grew, a lot. I still have a long way to go, but hashtags and reflections like this remind me of why it’s okay to be nostalgic occasionally, or pat yourself on the back. However, it’s also okay to look forward, knowing that you did the best with what you could. Also, I hope that as we continue on, that the generations after us will not have to struggle in that department, as they do have more likelihood of learning more so than previous ones before. How we all use that knowledge is to be determined.