I recently came across 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. I was very intrigued by the questions and decided to make answering them one of the goals on my current 101 in 1001 list. I'm going to try to answer one question a week.
How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?
This is a tricky question and one of my least favourite on the list but I decided to work through the list in order so I'll give it a shot.
I'm 29, I'll be 30 in December.
I think in many ways growing up with a disability meant that I learned certain life lessons earlier than the majority of people do. For the most part I see this as a good thing. On the flip side having CP meant that some childhood and teenage experiences or perhaps rites of passage were out of my reach. Some I have now experienced and others I haven't. This used to be something that really bothered me but it doesn't as much now. Partially because I've come to realise that they aren't all they are cracked up to be (in some cases) and that a lot of people are in similar positions to me.
But the question relates to age. I think the experiences I "missed out on" if you will made me younger than my age - or at least they did when I was a teenager. The thing is though, that's part of being a teenager - firsts, lasts and bluster and bravado about what you have and haven't done.
Equally learning the life lessons early - about rights, fairness, trust, access etc. Meant I grew up quicker than my peers. Because I knew about relying on people who were meant to help you and being let down and I knew I didn't have an automatic right to do what everyone else was, that sort of thing.
I think as an adult those two things are less of an issue than they used to be. They've played a big role in making me who I am but now they're in the past and rarely come out. I do think in someways I am very fucked up and this played a part in it. That said I said that to one of my besties last week and she said she didn't think I'm at all fucked up. So I must be doing better than I realise. Or doing a really good job of hiding it.
I also think actual age becomes little more than a number once you get well into your twenties. I have friends who are younger than me by several years , ones who are older than my parents and everything in between. Obviously we have different life experiences to each other and bring different aspects to our interactions. But even if all of my friends were turning 30 in December like me that would still be true.
So if I didn't know how old I am, what age would I say? Mid twenties. I like where I am in my life right now and for the most part I like who I am. That'll do me.
Unless, of course, the question gave you a do over and let you go back to where and what you were at that age. In which case I'd choose 18 and just off to uni. Those years were very important to me - and a hell of a lot of fun!