On Turning Seventeen


WORDS BY ZOE ALLEN / @EOZALLEN



The only thought that is running through my mind, today, on my seventeenth birthday, is that Harry Potter was seventeen when he vanquished Lord Voldemort. Me, well I’ve done nothing of similar scale.
For the entirety of my life, I have seen seventeen as a magical age for two reasons: the one mentioned above, and because of the ABBA song “Dancing Queen”. At sixteen you can drive, and at eighteen you can vote, but seventeen--Harry Potter, ABBA, and R Rated movies.
The truth is, the age seventeen is an irrelevant year for most. It is strenuous, junior year is currently kicking my ass, but it is irrelevant. On the grand scale of things, this is true. For me, I feel as though I  am not ready to be seventeen, and this scares me.
I am surrounded by those who have reached incredible heights by seventeen and I often think that I have not accomplished anything of similar scale. My friends are talented, beautiful, and inspiring. Many people have changed the world on or before their seventeenth birthday. (Selena Gomez wrote the song “Who Says” when she was sixteen!) I said that before I turned seventeen I would have been compensated for my writing by some publication. This has yet to happen, which is something that I have learned to accept for now, but not live with permanently.
My biggest aspiration is to change the world and my biggest fear is that I will not change it. Both are unbelievably broad and open ended, but linger in my thoughts everyday. I want to make a difference. I want to make things better. I want to make things right. I want people to hear my voice, appreciate it, and know that I was here.
Often I feel as if I have fallen irrevocably short. As if I will always fall irrevocably short. There are days I feel like I’m yelling into a void in which people are choosing to ignore me because I am not good enough. Some days I don’t yell at all, because I have no source to draw strength from and cannot muster the words. Almost every day, I feel like I am not good enough.
My fingers tremble before posting anything on Instagram and just this year I learned how to be okay with not getting above 200 likes. From the moment I first got Instagram to that point, I believed perfection to be getting 300 plus likes or more on every picture. I was obsessed with this notion, obsessed with the need for people to validate my worth. In almost any situation I am in, I feel a dire need to impress those who I deem cool, needing them to validate my worth as well. Finally, I slapped myself in the face and asked why it can’t be me that validates my worth.
I am seventeen years old today, and it is my turn to analyze myself. My words have been published in the New York Times, and my words have been heard. My words are only as meaningful as I make them, and I will no longer waste precious time and space with words of no consequence.
I am seventeen years old, and I can always get better, but I know that I am trying.

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