My little cousin had his grade seven “graduation” this past week. And, of course, calling him “little” might come off not only as a lie, but perhaps a tad bit demeaning. After all, myself having a fresh face of twenty years old, there are many people out there who would wheeze through their dentures that some “little lady writes stuff on the Internets” (the elderly having a tendency to add “s” onto the end of words that have never before encountered the letter). Of course, I don’t mean for it to come off as demeaning. It’s just that I’ll always be the protective big cousin– or “cousin-sister”, as he used to inform to his very confused preschool teacher. (Just for the record, we’re not some weirdo hillbilly family with brother-cousin-uncles named John-Billy-Bob or however else they abuse hyphens. We’re just close. But not in a hillbilly way. I’m gonna go ahead and shut up.)
Today my older brother and I were talking about the annoying mannerisms of the
early teenager, wondering whether we should tell our cousin to cut that shit out, lest he walk through the doors of his new high school in the Fall and get his ass kicked. Our conversation boiled down to one question:
“Wouldn’t you have appreciated someone telling you what not to do?”
And, honestly, I’m going to have to say “no“.
If someone had told me to not be loud and obnoxious and straight-up annoying…I mean, yes, it would have saved me endless moments of embarrassment, but I would have been so cautious. I would’ve been afraid of saying or doing everything “wrong”. I already have a small trepidation of this, but luckily (?) my inherent blabbering quality barely tips its hat towards this anxiety before chucking hardly-connected sentences out of my mouth. People tend to see this behaviour as me being talkative, rather than socially ill at ease. I like these people. They keep me around for a laugh.
I always got the feeling that those kids in high school who constantly worried about how others saw them, or what they could say to impress people, or what not to say so as to avoid being shunned…they can’t have been enjoying their time, could they? Living in constant fear of being prosecuted for being yourself, like it’s the Second
Wizarding World War. How can you start finding out what kind of person you are if you’re always stifling your own thoughts and replacing them with those of others?
I would never suggest that there weren’t times when I kept my mouth shut to ensure I didn’t say something against the norm, but after steadily letting go of that fear I felt more free. It’s entirely possible I was just oblivious to what people might have been saying about me, but I figure most people have better things to talk about. Also to those kids who do sit and judge their peers…get the fuck over yourselves.
The most I will do for my cousin is offer honest, if not clichéd, advice. Surround yourself with good people…get involved…take chances, make mistakes, get messy… anything more than that and I might as well go play The Sims if I want to control someone’s life.
However, if any pimply, punk-ass kid ever sends my cousin come home in tears, I’ll willingly remove myself from my computer chair and take more aggressive involvement.