1/30/15: To Be Young

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the experiences, ideas, and emotions associated with youth, particularly during the teenage years. A few things that come to mind when I think of youth: Prom, driving late at night with friends, bonfires, angst-filled lust and love, small acts of rebellion, tight-knit friends.

More so than any other age (except maybe early childhood), there seems to be a mold for the teenage years. There are certain expectations in American culture of how we will spend our youth. There are a number of ingredients necessary to living out the societal ideal of youth in the US. To name a few:

  1. Do something rebellious. Vandalize a stop sign. Drink at the beach. Have a sexual experience somewhere public when no one is watching. Experiment in illegal ways.
  2. Feel angry at the school system, the cops, the politicians, the teachers, the parents; the adult world as a whole, in an angsty sort of way.
  3. Have a close group of friends in whom you confide. You don’t always have to be together, and you can evolve over time, but hold on to a for group of like-minded people with whom to take prom pictures, eat pizza, and stay up late on Friday nights after football games.
  4. Put pictures of yourself, preferably taken in fields or in front of graffiti-covered train cars, on the internet for others to see.
  5. Be attractive and full of sexual energy.
  6. Don’t care too much about anything. Shrug off the consequences, the tomorrows, the inevitable conclusions. Live life in the moment, and believe in your own invincibility. You will never be able to believe in it again.

Maybe I got all these ideas from 80’s movies or books or television shows, parsed together with my own high school experience. I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that, when I think of teenage-hood, I think of a very specific box of experiences which I am not living.

Have I failed to be a teenager? Am I really a proper teenager at all? I certainly don’t harbor much latent anger towards the adult world- most of the time I just want to be a part of it. I’m not rebellious in the slightest. I can’t even stand when people cheat in party games or board games for children. My Instagram isn’t artsy like everyone else’s, and I have little desire to broadcast my face to the world. Most importantly, I care about everything. Every action I take is taken with full consideration, acknowledgement, and regard for the consequences. I know what the conclusions to my decisions will be and I base my decisions on those exact outcomes. I don’t just “let go” and forget that tomorrow exists. I live today so that I can have a better tomorrow.

This has caused me, on multiple occasions, to feel a bit displaced in the high school world.  I suppose I’d call it atypical rationality. Sometimes I feel much more like an adult than a teenager, and wish that I could be friends with my teachers rather than my peers. Of course, I do care very much for the people my age. How vivacious and spirited and brilliant and innocent they can be! What a lovely age! At the same time, I have no interest in getting drunk and kissing someone I’ve never met.

Most of the time, I see my not-quite-fitting as a huge advantage. So much of my success in life has come from my ability to consider the future and act in such a way that reflects my hopes for the future. I can delay gratification so well that sometimes I forget the gratification altogether. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy life; I think the world is an absolutely stunning, beautiful, stimulating place, full of interesting people and amazing experiences to be had. I just don’t express my love for the world in the same way as most kids my age. I prefer conversations with adults, long walks, and writing to parties. This is in part due to introverted tendencies, but also my seeming adult mindset.

As much as I benefit from being mature, though, sometimes I feel that I’m missing out on the Teenage Experience. As I approach my 17th birthday, I know my time is running shorter to be young and crazy and in-the-moment in such a way that only my age can really get away with. The truth is, that just isn’t me. Perhaps I was never meant to be a teenager. I feel that I’m in a sort of limbo phase where my age does not reflect my mental status; like I’m a 30 year old in a 16 year old body. I don’t think I would ever really enjoy being a teenager in the stereotypical sense of the word, rebelling and being angry and being irrational and short-sighted about life. Sometimes I wish I could enjoy those things, and that my mind would turn into a regular young mind for a few days or weeks.

How were you all as teenagers (or how are you, if you still are one?) Did you live out a full Teenage Experience? Was it everything I crack it up to be? If you aren’t from the US, how does the teenage expectancy differ in your culture? Or is it a universal? Now that you’re an adult (if you are), would you say you’ve gained more of a rational approach to life than in teenage-hood, with more regard for future consequences?

Pardon the ranting nature of this post. I don’t know entirely how to articulate my feeling on this subject. All I know is that sometimes I feel like I’m missing something critical to the Human Life- this phase that is so glorified and important and fun, that I seem to have bypassed entirely, for the phase after. Hopefully when I go on to college, I will find a good group of others like me, ready to start adulthood and enjoy the world in a less impulsive way.

11 thoughts on “1/30/15: To Be Young

  1. cliche’s: Youth is wasted on the young. Don’t waste your youth wishing you were older. You have some interesting observations. Now, I must say, every youth life is different. Many youth spend that portion of their lives being very narcissistic. Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. I look at today’s youth and think how entitled they must feel; at least that’s what I see. Your mileage may vary.

    I wasn’t a rebellious teen. I studied hard – not sure if it was to please myself or my parents, but I did. I was a “good” boy. It led me to stray in high school since I was a good catholic boy, so my now ex, drew me in with sex. Little did I know she wanted all the control, all the money, and well,…anyway.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your life because, well, it’s yours! No one can tell you how to live it. They suggest, but…parents can dictate, but. Sometimes it works, sometimes it makes us go the opposite direction, and run wild.

    I really like your comments about loving life. I think the best thing you can be as a youth is free – free to make mistakes; free to get hurt, heal, love, live, laugh, make friends, and gain the world. When we grow older, we lose the fun part of life because life demands from us more than we should give it. If life isn’t meant to be free, to learn, to give, what use is it? Again, one person’s opinion.

    Would I change things if I could go back? well, knowing what I know now, probably not. Then again, maybe…every soul that touches your life and every soul you touch were meant to be, in my humble opinion. I don’t think there are many accidents. I won’t say our life is written in stone either. I think our free will and the will to be free drive who we are, and what we want from life. I think giving is so important – and I don’t mean money. I mean to be the best person we can, we strive to give to others so they can be the best person they can. In our youth, as we get older, as we’re old, doesn’t change.

    Live life! Enjoy! Don’t allow people to make you do things. learn, never stop learning. create and find joy – they can take happiness away; they can’t take joy.

    So, no, I don’t think you’re missing a beat. I actually think you’re ahead of the game. Sorry for ranting…

    Oh, never grow up. It’s just what they say it is! it’s a trap!! 🙂

    Michael J.

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    1. I love the reminder to be free for all of the experiences that come at us in life. It is so important for us all to remember that, at the end of the day, we are free to be and do what we want in our lives, with the right mindset. Also, thank you for the reminder that we can cultivate our own joy. This is something that many people don’t seem to realize, to their own detriment, for we are all so lucky that we can control our minds and therefore our outlooks on life. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello and thank you for commenting! I just read your whole blog, and I see so many similarities between us. I’m just like you in so many ways- smart, quiet, a little out of place in the world of high school. I hope you keep up your writing so that I can see what else you’ve posted! I’ll be back to check in soon. Let me know if you post and I’ll be sure to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this post going “yes, yes, yes” all the way through!!
    I think that this ideal of a youth well spent is rampant all around the world, so even though I’ve come across many different cultures, I have felt abnormal 99.9 per cent of the time. Of course, I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean 🙂
    Reading posts like yours helps me to realise that having spent my high years rather calmly, doesn’t necessarily make me a better or a worse human being. I think that being “wild’n’free” is a bit like treading on a thin string – some get through their teenage years unscathed, others have to deal with the consequences for the rest of their lives.
    At the end of the day though, I don’t think that anyone has had a full Teenage Experience as you described it, and even if they did, I’m 100% they didn’t enjoy all aspects of it. So if it helps you can think about the whole thing as a kind of a spectrum, where neither end is right or wrong.
    If you are happy with your life before you start comparing it to that of others, then that’s all that matters 😉

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    1. I love this: “I don’t think that anyone has had a full Teenage Experience”. So true!! Sometimes we all get wrapped up in the idea that only we are the ones that aren’t living out the perfect experience, since we are unsatisfied with ourselves in a certain aspect of life that most people seem to be succeeding at. But life is so multifaceted; there are aspects of teenage-hood (applying to college, getting a driver’s license, etc.) that many people don’t experience and also see as deficiency. I think that for the two of us, though maybe we miss some of the excitement of being a typical teenager, are lucky to get through these years safe and level-headed; they are years in which many people make mistakes that affect them for life. It’s always good to know that there is someone else out there like me and that it’s neither right or wrong to be on the perpetual calmer end of things. Thanks!!

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  3. An awesome, honest and vulnerable post here! 🙂
    I’ve possibly mentioned this before however once you get a bit older you’ll start to fit in even more with thoughts like this..

    Your insight at 17 is amazing! Not sure when your bday is however have a blast & enjoy the ride

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  4. You have beautifully expressed yourself Avery. Not everybody is able to write their emotions so well. And girl you are blessed with so much of wisdom in such an early age. I can easily relate with you for the very reason that I too was in the same boat when I was of your age.
    On reading this post, I just wish to reiterate the cliche – “Don’t fence your thinking and behaviour. You are a free bird. Experience that freedom and be happy for who you are”. Love your spirit! 🙂

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    1. Thank you! I so appreciate your kindness and encouragement. I love that quote and I think it’s something we so often forget when we get wrapped up in ideas about ourselves and habitual living. We truly can do anything with our lives, if we can only let go of all our preconceived notions and expectations. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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