I find it somewhat comical that she has just landed on the ground floor of teenagerdom and here I am on the precipice of twenty-something-dom. (It doesn't have the same ring to it, but it will work.)
Being a teenager is stressful.
Sometimes the stress is purely biological, sometimes social, and sometimes I have no fucking idea what the fuck is fucking going on and my hair won't ever behave and my face breaks out and I am just so easily distracted by squirrels and really strong desires to dye my hair and eat pizza while looking at cat pictures, oh and boys/girls and how confusing and stupid they are.
I will be 20 in February and since I am nearing the end of my teenage journey, I'm here to share with you the lies, the best advice I can give you, the utter worst and, more importantly, the best parts of ages 13-19.
- Cool kids do drugs and they're going to pressure you into doing them, too. Actually, I found it be pretty much the opposite when I was in high school. (Drugs were never mentioned when I was in middle school, so I'll pretend it's only high school that we need to worry about for this purpose.) Most of the "cool" kids were straight-edge, and the only drugs I ever heard of them using were alcohol and weed. Pretty standard for high-schoolers, let's be honest. It was the lower class dregs of the school, the miscreants, that used the hard stuff. Those were the kids that disappeared half way through sophomore year and everyone found out their parents sent them to a rehab/wilderness camp for kids with a knack of ODing and getting arrested. The rehab thing only happened to like 3 kids by the way. Weed and alcohol were common amongst all social groups and ages, but the vast majority participated in neither. And as far as peer pressure goes, it really didn't happen too much. Whenever it did it was usually between two very good friends, one being shy and scared, and one telling them to stop being a pussy. It was almost always in a joking manner, and the scared kid almost always secretly did want to take a sip or a toke, and was really just being a pussy. I keep saying "almost" just to cover my bases, but the truth is: I never once saw a kid being pressured into doing anything they truly did not want to do. Teased, sure, in the way kids tease everyone about everything, but never legitimate scowling peer pressure.
- Everyone is having sex.
There is definitely enough sex to talk about in these carnal years, but most people are doing just that, talking. Most people I knew stayed virginal in all of their orifices, or at least one of them, or their orifice pokers until senior year or beyond. And on top of that, most people who were having sex were in long term relationships with people they actually cared about. Of course there were a couple of token promiscuous people, but they were not glorified like some trash MTV shows would have you believe or shunned like some after school specials would have you believe. In fact, having sex wasn't really a huge deal. Sex was neither a dirty secret nor an accomplishment. Some people were afraid of being judged and would lie about having sex, but their fears were irrational because no one really fucking cared. The only reason people talked about it so much was simply because it was something to talk about. Of all the virgins I knew throughout high school, I only ever teased one - and she was (and still is) my best friend, and we teased (and still tease) each other about everything.
- Turning 18 is awesome and your life is going to completely change.
HAHAHAHAHA. Ha. Ha. *wipes tears of laughter from eyes*
No. Not even close. Here's the thing about being 18 that no one ever tells you: for most people, it happens right in the middle of senior year. Unless you have a well paying job, your own car, and friends who have the same and are willing to move in with you somewhere, your life is not going to change very much at all. You are most likely still going to be living with your parents, you still have senior year to finish, you are most likely still going to be searching for a job or a better job, and the only new freedoms you have are a) the ability to buy cigarettes and b) the ability to go to clubs. If you're lucky, your parents may give you more freedoms. But you most likely are still going to be living at home, which means things are pretty much going to stay the same. The true catalyst for life changing events is the end of high school. It's when you have to start worrying about college, and learning how to take care of yourself (which is mainly learning how to cook ramen noodles and do laundry). But even with college on the horizon, things do not change for most people. More and more grads are opting for community colleges, and community college generally means still living at home. So what really happens on your 18th birthday? You get a couple of gifts, a shitload of facebook wallposts, people asking you to buy them cigs, and a big fat helping of the realization that you're just another year older and nothing has really changed.
- Social status is important.
Again, not even close. In my high school there were cliques, but they overlapped all the time and no one was ever shunned for being this or that. I was friends with nerds, jocks, a couple of preps, stoners, bookworms, band kids, chorus kids, and kids who fit into no particular group or many groups. Cliques were not important and no group was just arbitrarily mean to another. It doesn't matter where you end up, as long as you're happy with the friends you have, because really: no one cares what group you're in. Also, anyone I ever knew to truly care about cliques and choose not to associate with certain "types" of people was a complete asshat and no one liked them anyway.
- Stop worrying about everything. Your hormones are completely out of whack and most of time when you're freaking out, it's because your hormones are completely out of whack and not because there's a good reason for you to be freaking out. Slow down, breathe, and chill the fuck out.
- If you like someone, go for it. You will regret not going for it far more than going for it and getting rejected, trust me. I laugh at the times I was rejected now, but I regret not telling certain people how I felt because I may have missed out on anything from a good friendship to a relationship worth having to another laugh in the rejection bucket.
- Keep your friends close, they are going to keep you sane in these trying times.
- Work as hard as you can without being a sleep deprived humorless zombie, because it really is worth it when you get to the college years.
- Don't make any life changing or long lasting decisions on a whim. If you get the idea to dye your hair pink, for example, think on it for a few weeks before actually doing it. Why? Because your friends, hormones, and ideas are as goddamn spastic as a russell terrier, and they tell you to do really stupid shit sometimes.
- Throw away all of your acne creams and toners and special exfoliating scrubbers that don't work, and invest in a water bottle with a filter. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will do more for your blemished skin than water. The more water you drink, the clearer your skin will be. If your acne is severe you should expect improvement not eradication. If you have mild acne, however, drinking a lot of water may completely clear your skin. I am speaking from experience, people. Trust me on this one, if nothing else.
- Don't let anyone bully you, take you for granted, or pressure you into anything. If you make it clear you deserve respect, most people will kindly oblige.
- First love is exactly that, first love. It will hurt when it's over, but I assure you, you will be alright.
- Enjoy lack of financial responsibility. Bills are never fun, and most people are never paid what they're worth. Jobs suck and bosses suck worse. Be happy you aren't scrambling to make ends meet.
- And finally, don't grow up too fast. Be stupid, be silly, break the law while you're still a minor and can't get into trouble, and don't take life too seriously. Just enjoy being a kid, it's gone before you know it.
- Unquenchable boredom and appetite
- Overwhelming sexual urges
- School (being surrounded by incredibly stupid people practically all of the time)
- Limited freedom
- The fact most people won't trust you simply because you're young (being accused of things you didn't do quite often)
- Parents who don't remember what it was like or act like they weren't stupid at your age (they definitely were, I promise you)
- Losing friends
- Discovering the world is an ugly place
- Gaining freedom
- Making friends
- Finding yourself
- Discovering talents
- The ability to run on no sleep, food, or caffeine (enjoy this while you can because it sucks when it's gone!)
- Getting a license
- Moving out
- Being excused for doing stupid things because you're young
- Discovering what you want out of life and relationships
- Learning how to clean up your own messes
- Realizing that even though it's ugly, the world is also very beautiful. If it doesn't make sense to you now, it will soon enough.
Adulthood is also stressful, so good luck. =)