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16 Going on 35

This has been the story of my life for as long as I can remember. I have always been confused for being older than my actual age. I was cast as the "mother" in drama club constantly (yes, I was in drama club, that's another post 🤣). I was the eternal babysitter because adults saw me as responsible - and I wasn't a great babysitter.

**Seriously, I am like 12 years old in this picture 😧

I mean nobody ever got hurt, but I wasn't opposed to turning on the TV in the morning and sitting the kids in front of it so I could sleep longer. At one point, I was babysitting the grandkids of our drama club teacher - I think that scores some extra awkward points.

Unfortunately this story isn't as fun now that I am older. People still think I am older than I actually am; now I can't tell if it is because I feel so wise & mature to them or they just think I look older than I am (which unfortunately seems to be somewhere in the 50-55 range; reminder, I am 38 😧).

I'll stick with the idea that they just think I am so wise and mature they can't imagine I would be a day younger than 50. Yep, that's gotta be it.👌🏼

My favorite thing about this gift when I was younger, is my older friends asked me to buy beer because I wouldn't get carded. The extra ironic part is that I didn't drink; I still don't.

I promise, it isn't some attempt for me to be better than anyone or an inability to be vulnerable or a desire to make people uncomfortable (although I have been accused of all of those things because some people take your lack of drinking personally.) It is really simple: the few times I tried it, it made me extra pukey really fast and never worked out well.

Trust me, there are many times I wanted to join in and get shit faced with the rest of them because being the sober/designated driver (before Uber or Lyft) was not a good time - especially when you were cleaning up everyone else's puke.

The reason I point out this memory is because it is the first time I remember not doing what everyone else was doing. It's the first time I can pinpoint standing my ground (even though it wasn't that serious of a decision back then, it was pretty easy) and being an outsider.

To this day, it still makes me an outsider in many situations and still offends people but I just order a Shirley Temple and call it a day.

Do you know what else I realize from this one small story? It's when I started to see who valued me as a friend and accepted me for who I was - as much as any teenager truly does before life really starts to take off.

There is one friend that stands out a lot for me in this story. As an adult, I am more grateful for this acceptance now than I realized when I was younger. He was the first person to show me true acceptance.

It might have been something as pointless as not drinking, but when you are young, it feels like everyone around you judges your level of "coolness" based on a small subset of factors and drinking is one of them. The fact that I actually just wrote the word "coolness" tells you how "cool" I must be. 🤣

Not only did this friend let me be true to myself and not pressure me to drink (even though I think I did try my first beer at a party with him & I am pretty sure I had 1/2 the can and proceeded to the upstairs bathroom to puke that half can, but he was there to help) he stopped other people when they tried to pressure me and he was consistent. Most importantly, he didn't stop inviting me to parties. He didn't stop being friends with me. It wasn't an issue.

As I write this, I have a very strong feeling in my gut/solar plexus for how impactful that acceptance was. I swear, every time I write there is a new realization I didn't have before.

Please don't underestimate the impact you can have on someone's life by accepting every part of them, regardless of how big or small. They might not even realize the impact at that time but at some point in their life, it's going to be the same feeling in their gut.

I say thank you to my friend who showed me such graciousness; I hope this has been returned to you tenfold. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Take care,

The Auryn

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