I think we all – I think all of us – want to feel something that we’ve forgotten or turned our backs on because maybe we didn’t realize how much we were leaving behind. We need to remember what used to be good. If we don’t, we won’t recognize it even if it hits us between the eyes. – Jenna Rink
When I saw 13 Going On 30 for the very first time, I was probably around the same age as a young Jenna Rink, and was already dead set on the idea of being a journalist, so the movie hit right on notes more than ever. But the true beauty of the movie wasn’t in the ideal cookie-cutter rom com way (well, the true beauty aside from the Thriller sequence), it was the message that centred around the power of individuality. Now hear me out, calling any rom com bereft of some misogyny is of course a largely untrue statement but this movie came pretty near in the idea of how your quirks can exist without them being deflected around by a man’s deep-set insecurities (I am looking at you 500 Days of Summer). The true Jenna Rink was rambunctious, very eclectic, very honest, and very kind. Well, when she wasn’t being all rude to Matt, or in the later years trying to indulge in Lucy’s vain lifestyle.
But the road to find out who she was, and what her roots were, and how her ideals were to shape up, she needed countless reality checks and a smiley face pancake! However, much like Love being a Battlefield, so was the path to righteousness. Much like a lot of teenagers, Jennifer Garner’s Jenna Rink believed that her teenage years were never going to cast a bad reflection when she is thirty and flirty and thriving. So her wish came true, and she began dating an adult version of high-school dumb jock, became friends with the rude girl from her past, had an affair with a married man, didn’t speak to her parents, alienated her best friend and her true love.
This until, she realised that her true self was the polar opposite of everything she had become. And isn’t that how it is always? Don’t we find ourselves at a similar crossroads? I know I have. When you are so unsure of showing your true self that you borrow visages of proposed versions of self to appease others, and of course Jenna had to hear the sage words of her mother and with a little help of Matt she realised that she actually didn’t care for the materialism addled way of lifestyle, she didn’t want to sell her magazine out for a better job, and she definitely didn’t want to be someone she doesn’t like anymore.
Jenna Rink is a caricature that isn’t limited to just frothy dresses (thought some outfits they were), or nights in the park eating Razzles, or being the ultimate millennium princess with a job and a life in Manhattan; Jenna Rink was a fiercely ambitious woman, a woman knew her mind, and most importantly a woman who made mistakes, owned up to them and subsequently redeemed herself. So the lesson that I took from it, and that a lot of people hopefully did was that be your most authentic self without fear of judgment and trepidation – in the end you need to love who you have become and embrace that, everything else good will follow!