What If Your Life Had Actually Panned Out The Way You Hoped it Would When You Were 16?

by Leandra Medine
November 12, 2013
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To be fair, this question isn’t entirely my own. I spent last Saturday night watching Aziz Ansari’s 75 minute comedy special, Buried Alive, on Netflix per Emily Weiss’ recommendation and let me just say: HAHA. The routine covered a wide range of topics related to The Plight of Becoming 30 from the perspective of one Mr. Ansari, which I would assume is precisely why it hearkened back, at the end of nearly every joke, to the notion that marriage is one hell of a dated and arguably ridiculous institution.

And as a betrothed woman, I can agree that Ansari makes a few decent points. He asks how confounding the concept of legal, lifelong companionship would be if it weren’t a societal norm. Imagine just showing up to see your significant other with a priest in tow to tell him or her that you’ve loved hanging out and want to do it every single day until one of you should die. “Wear this ring so everybody knows about our arrangement,” your male counterpart might say.

It’s creepy, really.

Furthermore he continues on the topic of young love transcending the boundaries of high school and youth. He asks, “can you imagine if your life had actually turned out the way you wished it would when you were 16?”

I can, and you know what? If it had, I’d probably be living in Israel right now, wearing Birkenstocks completely unironically, listening to the Grateful Dead on repeat, swaying back and forth in a very long black skirt while a shit ton of little children ran around my tiny-ass apartment in the heart of Jerusalem. I’d be serving some version of matzoh ball soup to my ungrateful-much-to-the-dismay-of-our-preferred-music-choice life companion.

Some mornings, I am certain that I would wake up feeling incredibly anxious. Why didn’t I listen to the Pussycat Dolls when they sang, “Be careful what you wish for ‘cuz you just might get it. (You just might get it.)”

Why did I get it, damnit?

Now you must be wondering where the hell I was at 16 years old that I should want such a thing, right? Well, when I was 16, I was in love with a boy I barely knew (we met at summer camp which should immediately muddle the circumstances of our dalliance) from the South Shore of Long Island. He smoked more weed than a field harvests corn, wore cargo pants from Abercrombie & Fitch (one time he gave me a sweatshirt, swoon!), and a velvet yarmulka that had Hebrew scriptures sewn into the seam.

I tried to design my lifestyle, which was profoundly different, to match his, but when he told me that just by virtue of having grown up in New York City, I wasn’t “religious” enough to be taken seriously, I threw out his dumb ass sweatshirt, forewent the jam bands et voila: Birkenstocks are currently welcome only when worn ironically.

-Leandra Medine

REPLIES
  • Laura Mitchell

    Even scarier thought. I was 16 almost 9 years ago. How different will I be in 9 more years?! I feel like I don’t know anything yet and I’m 25. How can I make any life decisions at this age?

    • Carolina Mancini

      I´m 33 now and I found out that our life will change if we take a big decision or not…I mean…if it will change anyway so I´ll pretend that I have some kind of control of the situation and take the decision to my own…of course that i have to assume the responsability for the consequences, and I think that grow up is more about assume the consequences than to take right decisions. Maybe we are not getting smarter just stronger….

      • Laura

        That’s a good way of looking at it!

  • shelley

    This made me laugh :) my life almosssttt has turned out how I figured it would when I was 16. Different job than expected though, office manager instead of psychologist, but still with the same guy (now we’re married) and very very happy about it!

  • Karen Liesens

    I would have been a journalist or a tennis teacher!

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    Oh man, for me that was 14 years ago…

    At that age, I wanted to be a music teacher or journalist, and live in Australia or Paris…or both. There was an exchange program at my future college (I was a senior in h.s. at this point) where I could go to Australia for a year, and I was so excited to do it.

    Then I turned 17, started college, and got a boyfriend. A boyfriend who convinced me that Australia was too far away, and that our relationship wouldn’t survive it. I was stupid and stayed. Our relationship only lasted another year after that. The up side to all this was that I found a career that I like even more than music and journalism, and met my amazing husband a few years later…and married him many years later.

    Sure, I’ve still never been to Australia…I’m not a world-famous Vogue columnist (which I’m pretty sure we ALL wanted to be, thanks to Carrie), and I don’t live part-time in Paris…

    …okay now my life does seem kinda crappy now that I’m writing all that…

    …but I wouldn’t be who I am today without all the hard stuff. I’m a much stronger, more confident woman than I was at 16, and even though all my fantasies didn’t come true…I think I turned out okay. :-)

  • Amelia Diamond

    Olympic show jumper / married to Seth Cohen. Not much has changed.

  • Brie

    Not living in Kansas anymore / owner of my own shoe line. One of those hasn’t changed…

  • Quinn

    School tells us that we need to know now, so that we can take the prerequisites for college. It is an insane amount of stress and pressure which leaves me wanting to explode!
    As of now, I want to be Blue Ivy’s nanny so I can 1. live in NYC 2. Travel the world 3. do kid things and most importantly, 4. Be homies with Bey and Jay because it all comes down to doing things that will make me happy

  • Charlotte Fassler

    I would be running Hollywood with my man candy Robert Pattinson on my arm. barf. (kidding Rpattz, if you’re reading this- call me!)

  • Amanda Jane

    I agree, actually at 14 if my dreams became a reality I might be very dissapointed in myself. The only thing I can seriously remember about my thought process at that age was trying to “fit in” “some where” and not bring any unwanted attention to myself. Ive only started to understand what really motivates me much later in life.
    http://basementfashion.tumblr.com
    Love your insight!!

  • Jess Graves

    I’d be the 27 year old female Cameron Crowe, riding around on tour buses with rock bands and writing about them. And I would be poor. So very poor.

  • http://phantomco.blogspot.com/ Deaunte

    I turn 16 in 13 days & I want to be a photographer-filmmaker with a store

    B-Ball

  • Maral Halliyeva

    At 16 I was homeless, having just lost my granny (who brought me up) to cancer. I wanted to show the world that i was strong and would get through any problems in my life and come out on top. I am now 25, with 2 degrees and currently on a funded phD position in geophysics. I have travelled the world, partied til I dropped and worked insanely hard. But my biggest achievement? Its the one I haven’t planned: my 1 year old son who makes me happier than anything else in life.

  • http://www.mybougeotte.com/ Victoria | Bougeotte

    This makes me sad. Reading all the comments, I realize that life turns our very differently than what you’d expect it to, and right now I’m going to: a) make my fortune by the time I’m 30, and then marry a hot Argentinian polo player and travel everywhere with him with our beautiful kids b) become secretary general of NATO c) take over LVMH and basically rule the fashion industry. It also makes me sad that I turned 17 one month ago. I’ll probably end up living in a little town with just enough money to buy myself one pair of heels from Zara a month with a husband who drinks beer all day and can’t cook.

    • habitatus

      Life does turn out differently than you imagine, sure: but often times for the MUCH better. When I was 16, I thought I was going to be a biologist. 21 + years later…It turns out that I am actually an art dealer. I live in NYC, have traveled all around the world, go to “glamorous” parties like 3 times per week, have a very nice salary that affords me some very beautiful clothes & shoes (that I need to own & actually wear bc I have events etc that I must attend)…AND I am way more stimulated intellectually – every single day – than I (personally) was in science. If that doesn’t say enough…I also started a non-for-proft (that has now been around for ten years, that has not only done “good” in the world, it also employs people etc), and am on the board or a member of several charitable organizations. I am not married nor have children (yet!). To top it off, I have WAY better relationships with my family & friends than I had when I was a teen ager. Simply put: I could NEVER have dreamed when I was 16 that my life would have turned out this amazing. I simply could not have imagined that all (or any, really) was within my reach. But it is…and it is within yours too. If you want it to be. ;)

  • Frances Coral

    Living in New York, living with my high school jerk-off boyfriend, who happens to be one of my best friends now, and studying at FIT (Advertising & Marketing Communications) with an internship at Teen Vogue. Life works in mysterious ways.

  • Thery Barja

    i’ve always wanted to be a rock singer in a rock band…im still on my way there…

  • Amelie J
  • Christina B.

    19 years ago all I could think about was marrying Paul McCartney, I know ridiculous, so I spent all of my days planning and hoping I would meet him somewhere…ofcource my foolishness didnt allow me to think that he was 36 years older than me, whos against a small age difference anyway, happily married, extremely famous, living miles and miles away and totally uninterested in me…:-( Funniest thing is he was my second choise to John Lennon but I had to settle…lol

  • Weekenvy – Charlotte Hunter

    Wow, this is such an odd thought. I am sixteen now and I often dream about the future. I like to plan different options for my life. I currently want to be a graphic designer after designing the layout and posts in my recent blog http://www.wkenvy.com/ but I guess I can understand that you go through faces as a teenager and early adult. This post is very relatable – wonderful job. X

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