Writing by Isa Denney Strother // Photograph by Sofy Brinister


sixteen was a long time away when I was nine years old. sixteen was a long way away when I was thirteen years old. sixteen was a long way away when I turned fifteen years old. Now, sixteen is much closer and I am afraid.


sixteen is a big number. two times sixteen is thirty-two, two times thirty-two is sixty-four, two times sixty-four is one hundred and twenty-eight. Already, I’ve fallen down a well of two-times where surely I am dead. Already I am so old in this well that my bones must have crumbled, my skin fallen away.


When I was younger I thought sixteen was an adult. I thought you could do as you please and be where you wish when you wish, living on your own. When I was younger I thought I would be all grown up by sixteen. Now I am scared as I know nothing. I have learnt nothing over fifteen years, and now at nearly sixteen I will be a blank slate; I am not ready to be an adult.


I don’t know what will change when I am sixteen and what will stay the same. I wish I knew everything that would happen; I wish I knew how I would change. I wish I knew who in my life would stay and who would go away. I wish I knew what sixteen was; are you a child still? Can you still drink juice boxes or will the disgruntles cashier take them from you at the check-out and stow them behind the counter, only to be bought again when you have an ID and a few children in tow.


I am nervous that when I’m sixteen I’ll make a wrong choice and get lost… I am already lost. I do not know where I want to be anymore; when I was younger I had my whole life planned. I knew who I was and what I wanted to do. Now I know nothing; I don’t know what I’ll be doing in a year. I am scared because sixteen is so much closer to adulthood than fifteen is.


I am excited to be sixteen. I am excited that I’ll be able to get older and change and learn new things. I am excited that I’ll be a year older, a year closer to finding out what I want to do and where I want to be. I’m excited that when I am sixteen I’ll have another year (or I would hope) to find new things to like, and meet new people to befriend. I hope that I will become closer to the people I already know.


I am glad because though the change of year always reminds me of my birthday, and makes me anxious because a new year is a new chance for something to go wrong (pessimist that I am), but it is also still still a few months away. Maybe I’ll learn what I need to know if those few months, maybe I’ll understand something I need to understand.


Most of all I am happy; I am happy to be growing a year older. I am happy to have beautiful people around me. I feel safe with my family and friends and I am glad they will be there when I am sixteen. I won’t be an adult, as I thought when I was nine. I won’t have to grow up so fast, but I can slow down. I can slow down and be ten again, even though I’ll be sixteen.

Sixteen isn’t going to be so bad, after all. Sixteen won’t scare me away.


Sofy Brinister

Sofy can be found on Flickr.

Isa Denney Strother

Isa is an American teen living in Christ Church, she dreams of living in Europe and making music. Her life is an adventure and there is always the option for, “Just one more,”.

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