Maturity.

Am I mature enough?

That’s a question that I often ask myself. As things are going well, going poorly, or just going in general, I always think to myself am I mature enough for my age? Am I making the right decisions?

Often times, I speak in jokes and puns for fun. It’s a pun time, but that brings up my fear of being 18 and not having a clue if I could’ve been mature enough to go university. Everyone else seems so much more mature – they have a part-time job, they are able to visit places and go on vacations on their own, they have a social life, they can drive… and the list goes on and on. I have a different sort of maturity, the type that people my age aren’t supposed to have – the emotional maturity. The kind that comes with life and living through suffering and tragedy. The not-fun kind of maturity. The problem is that I don’t have the other part that should have come first- “the regular maturity”, which is important for staying sane after becoming emotionally mature.

When you have a certain level of freedom and responsibility, it puts you in a different mind-set that usually makes it easier to deal with the more emotional struggles that you may have. I have those emotional struggles and deal with them all right, but I don’t have the benefits of the “fun” parts.

When I was in the younger grades, I just assumed that something would happen before I would get to grade 12 and I would suddenly be up to par with everyone else in terms of their maturity- “gloing up”. However, I am in grade 12 now and I’m still the same old poorly-dressed tromboning girl I was in freshman year. In a way, I felt more “adult” in grade 9. I was more independent and I had a better idea of what I wanted to do. Now, after all I have been through, I’ve never been more confused. I have a pretty solid idea of what I want now, but I have no idea if I can do those things. It’s a waiting game…

More waiting…

A few weeks ago, I was desperately waiting to do my MRI as I was noticing some of the symptoms I had before my surgery…

Now, I am patiently awaiting the results from the meeting with my surgeon.

A couple of odd pages to the office, and a call from the surgeon’s secretary that freaked me out a bit, but so far, no bad news yet. Yet.

I think that’s the type of maturity I have. The kind that can deal with stuff like this. The kind that can deal with this emotional stress. Often times adults tell me “I don’t think I can deal with this as well as you have”, and I think to myself, “well, I didn’t really have a choice”. I think being forced into something helps you learn to adapt. Like if I were to go to university this year or work part-time, I would be forced to adapt. It’s like how some people learn how to swim. Throw ’em into the water and they better learn how to swim quickly. That’s apparently how my dad learnt how to swim. Luckily, my mom is against that way of teaching, or else I would’ve possibly drowned as a young child.

It’s course selection time! OPTIONS! More stress for Jessica as I have to predict the future and select courses based on what I want to do in university + what I think I can handle. It’s a lot of guessing games. My “maturity” is needed here the most. My maturity is needed when my friends are gone next year and I need to make new friends with the younger grades and find ways to make connections outside of school too. My maturity is needed to find jobs! My maturity is being used everyday as I interact with people from my hospital experiences, my rehab experiences, my volunteer/work experiences, and many more situations. So, in many ways, I am mature. Maybe not in the same ways as others that can drive cars and work jobs, but still mature.

I still have time to bloom and evolve! Lots of time to still “glo-up”.

 

Uniforms and Smiles.

Around grade 3 or 4, I wore headbands a lot. The plastic ones. The ones that made me feel unique and were downright adorable. Then, when I was in volleyball, I wore the thin athletic headbands to keep my hair out of my face. It would fall off all the time, but I still felt that having the headband looked “right”. It was equivalent to a uniform, granting me that feeling of being “fit” or at least fitting in.

There is in fact a reason why I stopped wearing the hard-plastic ones. I believe it was in grade 4 when somehow, I lost my favourite pink (yes, pink) plastic headband. The grade 6 boys found it, and before I knew it, it was just a bunch of scrap plastic on the gravel. I was upset. They took one of my favourite things and just broke it like it was nothing. But from that, I realized something very important. It was’t the fact that they broke my headband that bothered me, but because they broke what I considered to be an extension of myself.

I also remember when I started doing the messy bun. Not the pretty ones, but the one with 2 turns of the hair tie and I looked like a peacock. I thought of it as a good luck charm as it was also when I started being more active in the school and reaching new heights academically. It was my “get down to business” bun. If I was ever doing anything important, I would have that hair tie on my arm ready to go and in two seconds, I would be in my “uniform” for success.

“Uniforms” help define us as people. Not the school uniforms that are generic, but the outfits that you get to pick and choose yourself. No matter what, they show a side of you that you want to share. When I was doing my first interview for camp, I said something along the lines of “a t-shirt and shorts are like my uniform”. Be it not the best thing to say, it was true. I did in fact get the job, but that phrase sticks out in my head even despite all the memory problems. There’s a reason why that memory sticks out in particular, it’s just the plain truth. I believe that “uniforms” should be the clothes/outfits that represent who you are as a person and are most comfortable being in.

For camp/sports/summer-life, a t-shirt and running shorts is what is most comfortable to me. It’s what makes sense!

For my DECA business competitions, I feel my suit and slacks are empowering. The dress shoes may be painful, but it’s a type of pain that’s worth it at the end of the day.

For band camp/band/winter, the “uniform” is a hoodie and sweats. My friend actually jokes about that. “We can totally dress as each other for Halloween! XD” he would say as he has a very unique “uniform” as well.

 

I tended to be happier in my “uniforms”. Be it in my volleyball jersey, DECA blazer, band uniform or hoodies and sweats, I am always happier/smiley-er.

E.g.

 

But I always make some (a lot of) silly faces in my uniforms too:

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The thing about having a “uniform” is that the word itself points to everyone being the same. There’s a UNI=1 , FORM=Type. But I choose to take it another way, more similar to the second definition. The uni in “uniform” (in the context of how I’m using it) should stand for unique. Nothing else is like it, it’s one of a kind.
The form should stand for instead of the visual shape/configuration, the underlying characteristics. More similar to the verb definition of form meaning bring together.

I think I said something in my grade 8 valedictorian speech about how we are the “graduating family of 2012”. And despite the rare times I visited, the reason I am so active now is because of the teachers at Milliken. They built my passion for being involved since the beginning and I can’t thank them enough. Although the Milliken graduates may not be in the same friend groups anymore, we will always have that connection. The connection that we can find anyone from Milliken and be cool with them without even trying:  The Mustang Connection. Not just because we recognize them, but because in our hearts, there’s always some sort of sacred bond we made to each other.

Uniforms define us because it represents who we are: what we’re involved in, who’s in our social group , what we care about, and in a sense how much time we spend in the mornings can also be representative of all these things. Style is related to the time period as well. So, although we can’t quite look back on fashion choices like wide-leg pants or shoulder pads, we can probably imagine in a few years looking back on things like skinny jeans, uggs, or leggings thinking what the hell were we doing.

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I’m currently back to the wide fabric headband phase, 1. because I have to or else I would look silly with a bald strip on my head + funky chicken comb hairstyle and 2. because it’s nice bringing an old friend back for a visit sometime.
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Let your uniform shape you with the various club-wear, team-wear, spirit-wear, and grad-wear possibilities. The uniform combinations are almost as vast as the various meanings that are possible.