Teenagers spend a lot of their adolescence hating on things, but nothing’s comparable to the hate they have for themselves. In fact, not to get all “psych 101” on you, but their self-loathing is a big reason why they’re so down on everything and everyone. If you can’t handle looking in the mirror without wanting to smash it in a billion pieces, how can you expect to be a good friend or a nice person? You can’t. As you get older, some people hang on to the self-loathing they acquired in their teen years and it becomes their “thing.” Yes, hating yourself can be a “thing”—just look at most comedians or the music genre “Emo”—but most people grow out of it and learn to give themselves long pats on the back and hugs. The final test is going to the movies alone on a Thursday afternoon. That’s when you know your self-love is for real.
2. Their friends
In every social group in high school, there’s always that one friend who everyone hates. It’s a role you have to fill—The Hated Friend—and auditions are held year-round. When you find The Hated Friend, you incorporate them in your social life, but only at a teasing distance. You complain to your “real” friends and ask, “Does The Hated Friend really have to go to the movies with us. He/she sucks!” and your friend will reply, “I know he/she is really the worst, but it’s in the contract we all signed, remember? The Hated Friend must come on one social outing a week so we’re given something to talk shit about for the next week.” The Hated Friend may or may not know the role they’ve been chosen to fulfill, but it doesn’t matter. Teenagers have a limitless tolerance for abuse and it beats sitting alone, right? Right.
3. Being bored
Even though being a teenager can be full of life-altering exciting moments, it’s mostly just really boring. Besides writing a one-page Greek fairytale for Honors English and picking up a shift at Ben & Jerry’s, you don’t really have much to do. Your only job is to basically not completely lose your mind and end up dead. Since you probably don’t have your license and can’t go to clubs, the only thing teenagers can do is eat at Sam’s Taco Shack, walk around Burlington Coat Factory and go see a movie. You spend a lot of time walking places and that eats up most of your day. Maybe that’s why there was always so much drama in high school. You felt like you were living on The Real World and the boredom drove everyone insane. # 1 asked question as a teenager? “There’s nothing to do. What do you want to do?”
4. Being a virgin
Virginity is a shameful scarlet letter that most carry around during their teen years. It’s more stressful than college admission essays and certainly more embarrassing. When your friends start having sex before you, it can be a real nightmare because it’s all they’ll want to talk about. “Have you ever done it this way? I think it feels better and yesterday we also tried this thing where I put my tongue on his forehead and it felt so good!” Your other friend, the sex expert, will respond with, “That’s a good technique but I would suggest also trying it this way. I always come faster.” Yup. You have sex once and suddenly you’re an authority on the pleasures of fornication. Meanwhile, the virgin sits in the corner sipping an iced mocha just praying for invisibility powers and after the two non-virgins finish their sex talk, they turn to you and give an empathetic smile, “Don’t worry, babe. You’re next!” If you’re lucky enough to have sex in high school, you’ll feel like you’re a part of an exclusive club; you’ll possess knowledge that separates you from virgins and it will make you feel special. In high school, sex itself is secondary. Saying you’re no longer a virgin is the real prize.
5. Being the same/different
Teenagers hate conformity, but they’re also terrified of individuality. They spend seven years in awkward personal limbo, which I guess largely accounts for the poor outfit choices. Your thought process with clothes usually goes like this, “I want to wear this really cool t-shirt, but everyone is going to rip me a new asshole for it. Wait, screw them! I can wear what I want! Wait, but can I? Hmm…” You ping-pong for a little bit, until you ultimately decide to either wear the shirt and risk social suicide, or wear your typical ensemble and hate yourself a little bit more. Gee, being a teen is tough! You want to be “yourself”, but you’re not actually sure what that is. Everything feels so ephemeral and your tastes change so quickly. You come to Christmas dinner in punk clothes talking about The Adicts and next year, you’re wearing an argyle sweater and into the whole singer/songwriter thing. You move through identities at a rapid pace until you finally settle into the real “you”—someone who adores singer/songwriters, but also likes to listen to punk music when they’re getting ready to go out.