Growing up, we’re told that we need to decide who we want to be when we’re older. Perhaps we want to be briefcase bankers, teachers or drug dealers. Maybe, we want to be better looking, in love or be kinder to others.
When I was younger my future ideal me was,unsurprisingly, miles away. This person would be proactive, considered special without the false undertone and she would always arrive on time. She was me on steroids, she had girl boss tattooed on her ass and she would be wearing red nail polish. She’d have enough data to last the whole month too… and a mini-fridge…and a beanbag. Of course, I’d be in there somewhere deep down and I’d almost certainly be taking credit for it all.
When I left school, I knew that the time had come for me to take life into my own hands. I needed to beat a path from standard me to girl boss me. Looking at the pair of us like two criminals in an identity parade, I realised that my life was going to need some serious upheaval. So first of all, I took to Facebook to get rid of the old and upload the new.
As I scrolled through a black hole of year seven photo-shoots, selfies and tagged photos, reality hit me like forgotten homework. Whilst complete reinvention is attractive, it is impossible to achieve. Social media is not sympathetic. Each one of my ill-conceived pouts would have to be deleted individually, divorce would be required from my ‘Facebook family’ and tagged photos posed a whole different problem. If I were to devote the time to do this, would I still be able to prove I exist afterwards?
In attempt to reinvent myself without the hours of hassle, I simply made a new Facebook page. I added some friends and uploaded a few pictures – a new me was born.
Seated in a job interview a few days later, I proudly mentioned my skills in relationship building. The interviewer stopped me short, ‘but you only have five friends’. She wasn’t incorrect. ‘What makes you think that?’ I asked, to which she replied,’ I looked you up on Facebook.’ Her expression said ‘gotcha’. When I explained that I recently made a new account, she said, ‘I thinks that it says a lot about you as a person’. I didn’t ask what she meant but I thought her assumption that my social media page was a direct reflection of my life said a lot about her.
It became clear: there is no clean slate. The best millennials will get is an grimey one.
So as a new adult I must understand that employers, friends, colleagues no longer want to see me, they want to see my brand. They want to see what I promote. So, I can’t have a personality change at 16. I will never be able reinvent myself without my former self making an appearance to remind everyone of the fool I used to be.
Knowing that I realised this all too late, I can only hope that today’s school children are warned sooner, even if they are still being taught by non-digital natives. This way, maybe they will be able to reach the girl boss version of themselves, without having embarrassing moments permanently plastered on their skyscraper office walls.