While walking along the cliffs on my way back from Lidl, I saw a guy in the caravan park throwing a ball for a dog. I recognised the guy from my youthful, drinking days – I didn’t know his name but I remembered that my friend and I used to call him Rebel. I couldn’t think why; he doesn’t seem very rebellious now (although his dog kept refusing to give him the ball back, so I guess his dog is a bit of a rebel) and I couldn’t recall him doing anything rebellious when we used to speak to him in the pub. Saying that, I do remember him and his friend in the pub wearing dog outfits once, which is a bit rebellious, and is also giving this post a bit of a dog theme.
Anyway, I asked my friend, who reminded me that actually he used to call us rebels. And as we didn’t know his name, we named him Rebel. Wow, I thought. I was a rebel once. Or so Rebel thought. When did I stop rebelling? Have I grown old and boring? But then it occurred to me that I’m now a bigger rebel than I ever was at 18.
Me at 18: newly inked tattoos, pierced tongue and lip, dyed hair, combat trousers, quirky jewellery, obscure indie bands, pints of Guinness, a bit of an attitude. I was cool, y’know. I was a rebel.
Except I wasn’t, really. I was at that awkward teen/adult phase where I was trying to find my place in the world. And in true teen style I tried to fit in by not fitting in. And I wasn’t rebelling in the truest sense of the word. I wasn’t wrecking the place, and I was still polite to people. Just a bit aloof, because I obviously knew so much more about life and the world than them, they just didn’t realise it yet.
What does it mean to rebel? It’s not neccesarily about overthrowing the government, it’s about being who you are and not conforming to what people expect, just because you feel you have to. Rebelling is making the decision not to have children in a society that generally expects all women to become mothers. Rebelling is sitting on a bench at the beach and writing in your notepad or just staring into space, not caring if people think you’re weird. Rebelling is positioning your camera perfectly at the edge of the railings to get a cool shot, ignoring the fact there are people walking past and wondering what type of crack you’re smoking*. Rebelling is saying ‘I don’t get it’ when someone makes a blatant homophobic/rascist joke. Rebelling is telling a dog owner to pick up that turd their dog just left on the pavement.
I could not have done any of the above at 18. I would have children one day, because that’s what women do. And there’ll be no photographs or writing in public, people will think I’m crazy. That joke isn’t funny but I’d better laugh anyway, because if I don’t, the joke teller might not like me any more. I hate dog shit on the street but I’m not telling them to pick it up, what if they tell me to fuck off?
It’s easy to think that as we get older, we lose that ‘cool’ edge that our younger selves had. But in reality, the older we get, the more comfortable we get with ourselves and who we are, and that’s when the rebellion really starts.
Join the rebellion! What do you do to ‘rebel’ that you wouldn’t dare do when you were young and ‘cool’?
*I doubt anyone even notices me doing these things, but as we all like to be the stars in our own lives, its easy to assume that everyone in the world is obviously interested in what I’m doing.