Thursday, February 16, 2012


Today I heard Nirvana on my ride in to work, and it transported me back to being a teenager like hearing their music hasn't in so long. When you think about being a teenager, what comes to mind? I think, like most people, I was so many teenagers. I was the goody-goody, studious, confirmation-making teenager who swore she would save sex until marriage. I was the budding liberal progressive teenager, making impassioned speeches about racism and homophobia. I was the hormonal boycrazypants teenager who passed endless notes about crush sightings with her bff and thought if she didn't get to kiss this one dude in her algebra class that she would die (incidentally I didn't ever get to kiss him, and I'm still here). I was the sassypants cheerleader teenager who thought she had the best dance moves, who listened to hip-hop with her bestest girlfriends and lived for teen night at the Bahama Beach Club and honed her sarcasm over many, many lunch table conversations and nighttime drives. I was the mean and selfish teenager who excluded and bullied by staying passive when others were being active. I was the silly teenager who didn't give an eff and went to the school dance in her pjs because it was fun. I was the basket case teenager, shy and quiet, who thought she'd never make any friends and who didn't know how to mentally process a D grade on her report card and thought there could be nothing worse in the whole world that time she gained a bunch of weight. I was the home-y, nerdy teenager who loved nothing more than her quiet time, holed up in her room with books and music, who spent a lot of time with her family and never thought that was uncool. I was the restless, independent teenager who couldn't wait to be on her own, who longed to go to parties like everyone else and drink and make out, and was only successful at half of these things half the time.

As I'm so many women today, as is every woman and man, I look at all these parts and marvel at how they contributed to this whole, for better or worse. I think kids are multifaceted from always, it's part of being human, but I think it all gets especially splintered when adolescence hits. Maybe that's what fascinates me about teenagers, why I always come back to caring about them and writing about them and for them. When I look at the cliches of teenagers in movies and TV and books, how people get put into compartments because it's easy, it angers me because I know it's not really like that, and I don't like that it's commonplace to accept that it's like that. Everyone knows it, few people acknowledge it. I want to change the concept of the Mean Cheerleader and the Nice Nerd because they are not just nice and mean and smart and haughty. They are so, so many things, layers only just beginning to be revealed. Cliches do everyone a huge disservice, and teenagers, frankly, need all the help they can get. It is so much better for them to know that it's normal to be so many people.

Whoa, all this because I was thinking about being THIS teenager, the one who cruised around with her friends (you know who you are) listening to Nevermind and Freaky Styley and going to punk shows and smoking by the falls (though none of us really turned out to be smokers), quoting from Sassy and fancying ourselves quite clever and intellectual and literate. Of all the teenagers, that was one of my favorites.

1 comment:

  1. Ah...memories! I work with teenagers for all those reasons. I'm never bored. They constantly surprise and delight me. I love them even though they often drive me crazy! ;)