Despite there being plenty that I don’t remember from being 13, the age is going will stay with me forever in part through the lyrics of an artist I started listening to when I was, yep – you guessed it, 13 years old. Alanis Morissette wasn’t my first CD ever (that was Hootie and the Blowfish, thank you very much) but it’s possible that her debut album, Jagged Little Pill, was one of the most played CDs of my adolescence. To this day, Alanis has a soft spot in my heart, and her music can still captivate and feel quite relatable to me.
The particular line in question that anchors me to the start of my teens comes from the song, “So Unsexy” (not on JLP) where Alanis says, “I’m 13 again, am I 13 for good?” She then goes on to sing, “I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful/ So unloved for someone so fine/I can feel so boring for someone so interesting/So ignorant for someone of sound mind.” And that right there, folks, is it.
For as much as I have grown and healed and acknowledged about myself in the 27 years since I was 13, I can still find myself back in that prepubescent body and swirl of hormones and emotions on pretty much any given day, if the circumstances hit just right (or wrong, depending on your perspective). Some days, feeling 13 with the whole world of possibilities ahead of me is thrilling and I can still have those moments at 40, which is a real gift. More often than not, though, when these lyrics pop into my brain, it’s because I’m feeling like the awkward, out of place, unsure version of my 13-yr-old self, like the young girl who has no idea how things are going to work out or if she’ll ever move past the bullshit she currently finds herself facing. To still have those moments at 40 is, well, humbling.
Had you asked me at 13, I would have said that yes, by 40 I would indeed have all my shit together and would be done with life and emotions pulling me sideways (or completely off the tracks). This is very similar to my feelings on parenting when I used to watch SuperNanny prior to having my own actual children and thought, “Man, I will be so much better at that than these people; what’s so hard about it?” (<— UGH. I knew nothing!) In other words, laughable at how wrong I was!
At 40 I can tell you that I very much still struggle. And sometimes it is the fact that I am still struggling that pisses me off more than anything, including whatever said struggle may be! Recently I had a shame spiral over body issues that threw me for a massive loop and while I was upset by the body dysmorphia, I was twice as disappointed in myself for being disappointed as I was bothered by my thoughts about my body.
That feels crazy making at times but I also am learning that that’s just life. It’s part of being human and I am never, ever – as much as I read or practice or meditate or affirm – going to rid myself of being human. I’d like to think that as I continue to age, I’ll go through longer and longer periods of time between when I feel the shame and uncertainty of 13, but I don’t know that I’ll ever get away from that part of me altogether. The real trick, I suppose, is to love that awkward little version of myself as much as possible, even when she rears her less than appealing sides. And who knows – maybe being 13 for good, when channeled as a little feminist rocker, isn’t such a bad thing after all. (seen here at a piano recital in a church, but still – a little rock star at heart)