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  • Lioba de Graff

Being a Teenager...

Those 7 years between childhood and adulthood are some of the most awkward and hardest ones for a person. It’s figuring out who you want to be. Trying to please people. Having some of the most stressful and life determining exams and school years. Trying to step out of your comfort zone.

There’s so much pressure put into those 7 years of your life by every single person around you. Your parents – you want to make them proud and show them what a great person you’re becoming and that you can manage everything by yourself now and don’t need to be treated like a little kid anymore. Your teachers - you don’t want to disappoint them so you try to put as much work into all your classes so that you don’t. Your friends – you don’t want to make them think you’re ‘uncool’ for not going out with them and instead sitting at home doing schoolwork and you don’t want them thinking you’re no fun because you love them like family and are probably going to spend a very large amount of time at school with them.

Everybody is giving you their opinion on things. How much you should study. Who you should like and who you shouldn’t. If you should be in that relationship. What you should wear. How to style your hair. How to act. There’s not much room for your own opinion and you end up getting shaped into the person you’re going to be by all the people around you. And don’t get me wrong I think that’s great. You’re being helped by everyone you love and even the people you absolutely hate to create the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life. You couldn’t do it without them. However, it also creates a certain expectation to meet because you don’t want to upset anybody around you. So, you end up going to that party and staying out really late and therefore getting behind on your school work and studying. So, you end up staying up all night so that you won’t disappoint your teachers or parents with a bad grade. You break up with that guy you actually did like and go for somebody else because your friends think it will be better for you. It’s a lot.

But at the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re happy. Do everything that’s going to make you happy. If going to a party will make you happy, go! If getting a 1 will make you happy, study. Because although it sounds cliché and everybody says it all the time – your teenage years are to make memories you won’t ever forget.

I read something I personally think makes a lot of sense:

"Highschool takes up 720 days of our lives. 720 days of sitting at desks with people we probably won't ever talk to outside of classrooms. 720 days of waking up at 6:00 trying to make ourselves look presentable. 720 days seems like a long time. You can meet your best friends that might stay lifelong friends, or friends you lose at the end of the month. You can make insane memories that one day you'll end up telling your kids. You'll meet mean people who want to ruin your happiness simply because they don't like you, even though they have no idea who you are underneath the clothes and outside of your friend group. You can establish who you are and what kind of person you want (or may not) want to be. You can be the popular girl with countless "friends" or the "loser" with 3 friends that mean the world to you. 720 days is a lot of time to fit in as many heart breaks as possible. You could meet your soulmate or you could not.

You have more than enough time to fall in love, maybe even more than once. You have time to make mistakes, because mistakes make the best stories and lessons. There’s time for late nights blasting music as loud as you can on the highway with an over-packed car going 90, having no idea where you're going, just because you can. Time to get stressed and overwhelmed and cry. You'll probably cry more within 720 days than you will ever again. You can stay in your bed crying for a week over the boy you thought was different, or you can act like nothing is wrong for months when you're crushed on the inside but don't want anyone to know. You can kiss 70 people or just one. You can sneak out and have butterflies in your stomach about being caught. 720 days to fit so much of life in. So many important milestones, what seems like forever. But then one day everyone blinks and its gone. You're not 16 anymore. You're walking across a graduation stage looking at the people you've surrounded yourself with for 720 days, and you probably still don't know half of their names. The teacher you hated is congratulating you on making it out alive.

You come to realise that no, it's not like the movies. It’s so much more but so much less. It's all over so fast, and so suddenly your first day of freshman year feels like it was last week. It feels like 6 days ago you got your license. 5 days ago, you kissed the guy you thought you would marry, but now you walk by without a look. 4 days ago, you got so drunk you woke up in someone else’s bed. 3 days ago, you were driving down back roads waking up neighbours with a packed car. 2 days ago, you went to prom with the football captain. Yesterday, you sat alone and cried about how it was all over. Today, you blinked. And tomorrow, it's all just going to be memories.

You’re a teenager and you’re only going to live once. So, enjoy it. Don’t feel obligated to please everybody around you. Just be yourself and people will like you. And if they don’t, don’t dwell on it. You’re never going to see them again."

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