Growing Pains: Confessions of a wannabe wonderkid

December 21, 2017

wonderkid. /ˈwʌndəˌkɪd/ noun. 1. (informal) a young person whose excellence in his or her discipline is appropriate to someone older and more experienced.
In 2017, long gone is the myth that teenagers just do not give a shit. While it would be easy to dismiss teenagers and young adults as lazy and tech-obsessed, the youth of this generation are breaking barriers and passing milestones like never before. It’s an exciting time to be alive, with teenagers actively using their voices and platforms in protest to resist against systems of oppression, to support and empower one another, and to create spaces where their beliefs and values are represented. These days’ teenagers aren’t just fighting for themselves, they're fighting for everyone. We are investing in a future that is inclusive, equal, and consistently evolving. This is a beyond powerful legacy to leave behind. 

We witness the magic of these individuals every day and at all levels of society. Within our own book blogging community we see such activism from diverse and own voices bloggers, readers, writers and allies whose fight for recognition is constant and consuming, yet necessary and critical - shout out to Meleika, Anjulie, and Taryn. We see this through social media users with both huge and small follower counts, who use their platform and privilege to discuss and bring awareness to issues of importance - Bri from @curliee_gurl and Violet from @prettyinpoc on Instagram, Savannah and Lucrece who run Onsite, and my #DOLANPOC queens on Twitter to name a few. We also see this from actresses and writers who have purposefully carved their own space in society to make room for others like them - Yara Shahidi, Rowan Blanchard and Amandla Stenberg excelling at this. Even without a political focus, young people are also inspiring others through creating businesses and careers for themselves in ways we never thought possible before, encouraging the rest of us to dream bigger and harder despite the naysayers who get in the way - Kyemah McEntyre of @mindofkye, Dinasty Brown of @queendomdinasty, and the Dolan Twins being awesome examples. This sort of work takes energy and time but can create movements and communities with long-lasting impacts. 

Standing in the "woods" thinking, "What am I doing with my life?" - captured by photographer extraordinaire @davidsuyasa

This work isn't always done in the absence of older activists and visionaries and often, without them wouldn't always be possible. In my own life, Freya Bennett of Ramona Mag, feminist artist Ambivalently Yours and Instagram soul food @christiaan_rt, consistently empower and enable me, to focus on self-love and activism through the important work they do. On a macro level, Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth, Director and Producer Ava Duvernay, and author and activist Janet Mock create spaces for more diverse voices to be heard and presented. They give us a seat at the table and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you!

With such infectious energy surrounding me, it's often easy to feel like an underachiever, especially during this awkward phase of growing up that I am currently finding myself in. If you couldn't tell from the lack of new content on this blog, I just completed my worst and final year of High School. 2017 was crazy and emotional on all accounts and didn't leave much time for personal and creative ventures. Now war-weary and having passed the end of the line, I am thankfully able to say that I graduated, passed all of my exams and have been offered entry into my first preference for University - I'll be studying journalism in 2019 after taking a gap year. Woohoo! 

Whilst spending time study free has definitely been welcome, I am surprised to find that the lack of structure and purpose has been totally weird. Without something specific to work towards and achieve, I feel like I'm having withdrawals. I have always been a perfectionist with unrealistic goals and standards (most of them unmet) and that's really taken it's toll this year as I've had to work towards being kinder to myself. As I try to navigate this strange period, I have found myself guilty of looking at leaders whom I admire, such as Rowan Blanchard and Yara Shahidi, and thinking, "they're fourteen and seventeen and living the life I could only dream of, what aren't I doing? What am I doing?" This green-eyed monster has made itself way too comfortable lately and gets harder and harder to shake off. I am not a competitive or jealous person but lately, I seem to be repeating, "why not me? Will I ever be enough?" It's not that I believe I'm as talented as them, it's that I want to be as talented as them. 

This negative way of thinking is a product of both my own insecurities and a society where young people are kicking ass at super young ages and at super high levels. The recent Teen Vogue summit is an example of the phenomenal things young people are doing that I SO wish to be a part of. In fact, I crave it! Some people dream of owning designer brands (which for the record, is totally fine) but I dream of successful living in New York City as a journalist, activist and daytime television host. I froth over this vision and cling to the hopes of a future that is bright and dreamlike, but sometimes... I forget that not all of us are going to be internet sensations who are famous overnight (which is not to discredit the success of these individuals, unless you're a Paul brother).

Anyhow, what I am slowly learning and attempting to come to terms with, is that not everybody's one journey is the same. Everybody is capable of creating meaningful change. Our agency and our voice are powerful and that simple fact can't be negated by our follower count, occupation or age. The potential to be successful doesn't have an expiration date, nor can it be measured or legitimised by validation from others. There is a powerful second wave feminist war-cry which reminds me of this, forcing me to realise that every day brings forward the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. 

The Personal is the Political.

The statement to me embodies how each and every action of the marginalised, undervalued or disempowered can become politicised when it goes against the grain of what society expects or has seen before. Thus, it allows me to understand the way in which almost all individual achievement or resistance, is ultimately uniquely powerful in forging significant collective change and in changing the culture we are existing in. That's why it's so important to continue to support, recognise and celebrate the achievements of wonderkids all around us, those with huge followings and those without.

These people remind me to always hustle and to always shine as hard as I can. It's necessary to surround yourself with individuals, communities and resources which enable you to grow as an individual and at your own speed, whilst prioritising self-care. I am a huge believer in Ann Friedman's 'Shine Theory' - which you can check out here. I'm all for powerful and supportive sisterhoods and it is my goal to surround myself with amazing and unstoppable boss ladies always. When I finally kick the green-eyed monster in the behind, I beat myself up for being so stupid and unlike me but it's human to feel this way sometimes. As long as we remember that comparison is the thief of joy and that the success of others is not the absence of our own, there will always be room for all of us at the top. Queens recognise queens.

I hope that this post hasn't come across as preachy or whiny but I just wanted to take the time to send praise to all of the wonderful people who inspire me daily and to reiterate the undeniable power that lays within all of us. So yes, I am a wannabe wonderkid and that's something I struggle with every day. However, I think together...we are all going to get to where it is we want to be in life. There is a wonderkid inside of all of us even if we just don't know it yet. The future is bright.


  1. Sunny. This post is eloquent and poignant. Thankyou for writing what so many of us, at all ages, feel!
    I believe you are UNIQUELY gifted and you shine much brighter then you think you do!
    Shine on sister xxx

  2. This is a lovely, eloquent post, that I think anyone can relate with at one time or another.
    "As long as we remember that comparison is the thief of joy and that the success of others is not the absence of our own, there will always be room for all of us at the top. Queens recognise queens." - love this! It's such an important thing to remember.


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