What I Was Doing When I Was 17

When I was 17, I was not a girl, not yet a woman. I listened to Juliana Hatfield and Le Tigre in my bedroom and pretended I was a riot grrrl from the nineties. Some things never change.

When I was 17, I was obsessed with being a teenager. 17 was the age I always wanted to be and as far as I was concerned, I was a Professional Teen Dream. I watched Crazy/Beautiful four times in one week once because it involved my two favorite things: 17-year-olds and hot mexican boys.

When I was 17, I was writing things like this in my Livejournal:

today, i’ve been learning how to feel again. im getting inspired. i finished a doll’s house. fantastic. i also listened to my favorite song of all time, “Wild Horses” by The Sundays on repeat. & i tried to cry for every friend, every family member, every experience that i felt got away from me. i couldn’t cry but i feel alot less numb. more awake and focused. im going to get my shit together & im going to find my way back.

When I was 17, I had my first kiss and first blowjob with someone I couldn’t stand. Three weeks later, I lost my virginity to someone I actually could stand. It didn’t feel like I was moving fast. It felt like I was simply making up for lost time. When you’re 17, you just want someone to take your virginity ASAP. It’s like a game of hot potato. “Get it off of me. I don’t want it!” Whoever the potato/your virginity lands on, must have sex with you. It’s the rules.

When I was 17, I listened to Interpol, The Smiths, and Yeah Yeahs a lot. I wore sunglasses over my real glasses and thought no one could notice. I wanted to be alternative and indie and wear lots of shirts from Suburban Outfitters. I thought wearing $60 shirts that read “Sam’s Video Hut” meant you had good style and that you were doing things right. But when you’re 17, the right things are often the wrong things.

When I was 17, I was barely home because I hated my family.  The only person I got along with was my father but he lived an hour away. I couldn’t imagine a time when I would get along them. I couldn’t imagine a time when I would willingly want to be in the same room as my brother or mom.  It’s hard to have perspective at seventeen. Things are just beginning to stick to your memory and you haven’t learned how to see the grey areas yet. Thank God you’re able to see them now.

When I was 17, I was so happy and so sad. It seemed as if I wasn’t crying, I was laughing until I couldn’t breathe. My emotions were on the teen rollercoaster and even though it could get bumpy, I never wanted to get off. Better to feel everything than nothing, right?

When I was 17, there was so much drama all of the time. Hurt feelings, shit talking, the works. It usually went something like this: “Um, did you see what so-and-so wrote on their Livejournal? Like I couldn’t believe it. Is she for real? How could she say those things? I’m going to see her tonight though. We’re going to see How To Deal with Mandy Moore. Ugh, I really don’t want to go but I’m going to because I’ve been dying to see this movie.” This person you were talking about was usually your best friend. “Best friend” meant nothing at 17. It was a title you used to feel like you belonged somewhere with someone.

When I was 17, I barely smoked pot or drank. Drugs and alcohol were scary and only to be used in times of ultimate teen rebellion.

When I was 17, I knew it was all going to end soon but I couldn’t fathom it. I couldn’t comprehend dorm rooms or college, and sometimes I just wanted to wake up to the smell of my mother cooking french toast everyday.

When I was 17, my life felt like a movie partially because it was exciting and partially because I wanted it to feel that way. In a way, it was like you could direct your own life, which was creepy and weird and I’m happy it’s no longer like that.

When I was 17, I had severe cystic acne and endured weekly extractions by a woman who wore alligator skin pants, liked to refer to herself in the third person, and told me that the needle she used on my face was only legal in the state of Texas. My acne cleared up when I was 21 after I had stopped using any products on my face.

When I was 17, I hung out in parks, in friends’ cars, at California Pizza Kitchen, in backyards, at school and, if we were desperate, the mall. My friends and I were always bored and always looking for things to do. We were satisfied by the simplest things and yet never satisfied by anything.

When I was 17, I was just starting to become the person I was going to be forever.

When I was 17, I never imagined a time when I wouldn’t be 17. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

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