Is being too mature for our age a compliment or a curse?
Many times I’ve been told I was so much more mature for my age and twice, after asking some strangers to guess my age, I’ve been told my maturity, attitude and ways made me appear ten years older than my actual age. Looking very young physically, with the face of a baby and the height of a doll, I always took it as the biggest compliment ever, but thinking about it I realised maturity at a very young age always comes with a price.
When I was fourteen, I was my mother’s doll. She chose and bought my clothes, decided the length and style of my hair, how much make-up I could wear, how much I could talk and what I could say and do, brought me to every place I needed to go and never left me alone for a second.
She didn’t let me watch anything she didn’t approve first, and I never had a chance at making friends, because I wasn’t allowed to go out at all or to go to their houses and no-one was ever allowed in ours.
She decided what I ate and read, how many hours of sleep I needed and even tried to gaslight me about my sexual orientation because “if you don’t have sex first, you can’t tell if you like girls too”.
I had no personality and I probably wasn’t even the brightest star in the sky. I was too scared to do anything by myself and knew nothing about life.
I saw people my age taking the bus to go home after school, laughing and walking to places, making friends and experiences, being happy and I knew I couldn’t be a part of that.
A year later, after being beaten very violently by my mother on Christmas Eve because she found me at home watching a movie with a friend, my first and only friend ever, I decided I had enough of that and nothing could ever be worse than my life in that house, so I ran away from home and went live with my grandparents, who very kindly accepted me and took care of me.
I was still a wounded beast, my soul kept aching because my own mother was too cruel, and my mind had absolutely no idea how to survive in a world by myself.
I had to grow up quickly and make up for all those years of experience that were stolen from me. I soon found out I was a very complicated person, with mixed feelings about everything and a strong personality I never knew I had. I started understanding where my mother’s toxicity ended and where I began and soon my real personality emerged and I got my life back.
I made friends, had relationships and confirmed my sexuality and I realised what I wanted to be in the future and set a goal for myself for the first time. I was finally fine, mummy issues and trauma excluded, but my friends weren’t.
Some of them were neglected by their parents, some of them bullied by their friends and some of them struggled with addiction. Being the oldest, I became their mother.
I took care of them, helped them overcome depressive episodes, tried my best to stop them from self-harming and gave them all the love I could, but I took on my shoulders such a heavy burden and found myself too weak, so I crushed.
Being surrounded by this dark environment, my mental health got worse and I started manifesting symptoms of depression.
My grades and school attendance were terrible and I had no strength to pull myself out of that miserable situation. I didn’t have a goal anymore and I was quite sure I wasn’t going to live long enough to get a degree and need to find a job. My main concern was waking up every morning and finding a reason to leave my bed and do something.
I was in a really bad place and the presence of my toxic mother in my life only made it worse and worse.
Then my miracle happened. I moved from my home country to Scotland, to see my father for the first time after too many years. I met his partner and her son and as weirdly as miracles happen, we completed each other. I was the missing piece in their lives and they were the one in mine.
My step mum saved my life and I got better and better. After two years of college, I’m now ready to start my third year of university and live in a flat with some flatmates. I have friends and excellent grades, I volunteer a lot and get as much work experience as I can, because I have an ambitious dream and I’m doing my best to make it real.
I have a boyfriend and a very healthy relationship with my family and overall, I’m a very happy and complete person. But everything I’ve been through left scars inside me, and the maturity people see in me now came from horrible experiences and a very dark place.
As a teenager, I never had the chance to act like one. I went from being a child to being an adult too quickly to have the fun and light-heartedness I had the right to have, and I can’t go back to experience that.
That’s why I have to admit being defined too mature for our age is more a curse than a compliment, because it mostly comes from trauma. Of course, I don’t regret anything. I love my life now and if that was the price to pay to get here, I’m glad I paid it.
But I wonder how many silly mistakes I missed and the kind of person I could have been if I were born in a different environment. I guess I’ll never know.