I was born in 1996.
I experienced (although I was too young remember) the millennial bug or what wasn't the millennial bug because it blew down to nothing didn't it? My sister, a black-haired, fair-skinned wild child stumbled around like a toddler wearing a t-shirt that said, "I caused the millennial bug." Maybe she did try and cause it. I'll let sibling rival pass to inform you that she is the physical embodiment of the cartoon Daria with a brain geared towards maths. If she was any older at the time, she could have and would have done something to provoke world fear.
I am old enough to just weakly remember 9/11.
A girl with blonde hair came into school with a picture of the newspaper with a massive front-page picture of the buildings collapsing to the ground of New York City. I remember hearing about the Boxing Day tsunami on ABC Radio on a long drive up the coast of Australia. I remember Disney shows starring Hilary Duff and The Simpsons being at its peak.
I am young enough though that I bypassed some things.
I missed having a MySpace page. I can't say I knew bands like Paramore or Dashboard Confessional before they hit mainstream. I also missed the time when girls idolised Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, and then girls with a halt stopped idolising these girls.
So when I stumbled into my thirteenth year with A cup boobs and short brown hair, this was what things were like. The media we watched was still heavily influenced by what was shown or what was shown on the one TV was in our house. This was prior to the days of GLEE where Kurt and Blaine became the power couple (gay people didn't exist on prime time television). Social media wasn't that social when you only had a handful of friends.
We weren't exposed to widespread social media. The kind that individuals can post a short sentence Tumblr post and have it reach the computer screens of individuals everywhere. Our social media accounts were limited to the people in our small towns, who shared small-town views and lived small-town dreams. Now there are worldwide conversations. We have events such as Project for Awesome hosted by John Green. A few years back we just had Twilight and the swarm of vampire-related novels.
I remember sitting in art class, making sketches when the song Love Story by Taylor Swift broke. I got Swift's sophomore album for my thirteenth in a package: a black bra with rhinestones up near the strap and a denim vest. This was in the phase of my life when I wore black skinny jeans and thought I was part of a band. The album became my collection of anthems, even though I never kissed a boy before.
When I was fourteen I cut my hair short.
I don't remember what inspired me to do it. In retrospect, it was a teen angst response to a bad hair day. This was prior to Emma Watson or anyone famous doing anything this wild; Demi Lovato didn't have an undercut. A new girl at school took it on herself to repeatedly call me a boy. Eventually one afternoon in sport, I grabbed my own boobs and said, "do they look like testicles?"
I wonder how different things would be if I was a few years younger and had spent my early, formative teenage years in a Tumblr culture where asexual is finally a term and the real meaning of feminism is finally grasped by all (even the boys). I recently celebrated my 19th birthday confirming that I am a grown-up. Although I have a Tumblr I don't think I am part of this culture. I feel like an impersonator. I am only going forward in life, but I think those who grow up with all this, are already one step ahead of me.
This feature was guest-edited by Adriana Parente.