Thought Catalog

Reasons Why Being A Teenager Was Both Awesome And Terrible

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You’re laying in bed listening to music when that one song comes on that can just make you wilt. Maybe it’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” by The Postal Service or, if you’re a teenager now, a song by Paramore. It hits you like a tidal wave of grief and you’re flooded with memories of things you no longer have, things that aren’t yours to keep. Oh my god, the pain of it all! You decide to write these feelings down in a book so you do. You’re treating the pen like it’s a sword and you’re just stabbing the paper. Afterwards, you stare at your ceiling for three hours like it’s the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen. Is dinner ready yet?

You’re doing something that could potentially kill you. You know that thing called common sense? It hasn’t fully developed yet. The desire to have an “experience” trumps any common sense you might have. You put yourself in situations that could end in you being a statistic or That One Person In High School Who Died From Being A Foolish Teenager And Scared Everyone Back To Reality. You had that person, right? Mine was a girl named Maggie who got hit by a train when she was drunk and died at the age of sixteen. I never even met her but I grieved her like she was my best friend. Not knowing her might’ve actually made things even more intense for me. In my mind, she could be whoever I wanted her to be. I imagined her mother being broken forever and her best friend being paralyzed and breaking down in a Dairy Queen somewhere. I could create her arc. I could answer the questions.

You’re kissing someone who you never thought would kiss you back. It’s all about lusting after the unattainable when you’re an adolescent, which can be sad because of the low self-esteem thing, but it also makes moments when you get the guy/girl extra special. I mean, your life actually feels like a movie at this point. There’s the guy with the boom mic standing over you and some special song playing in the background. Every cliche you’ve read about in books or heard in songs becomes a reality. I like it when that happens. It brings everyone down to earth and becomes the great equalizer. Whenever you’re in a fight with your boss, just think of their body shaking under some leafy tree at fifteen, kissing the person of their dreams.

You’re making promises with your best friends about living together in college and staying in touch. You don’t really know how distant you’re truly going to become; you don’t know that you’re going to find about their engagement on Facebook when they were the ones who coached you through losing your virginity. And that’s how someone who once was your everything can slowly turn into nothing. Time is the silent killer of all things.

You hate your parents. You hate yourself for hating your parents. You still hate your parents.

You take two sips of beer, fall to the floor, profess your love to someone, and tell everyone you blacked out the next day.

You relate to stupid melodramatic music because you’re melodramatic and stupid. There’s something liberating about that though. There’s something really awesome about being able to relate to Death Cab.

I might be romanticizing things a bit (what else is new?) but these are all beautiful, sad scenes from a beautiful, sad time. It takes awhile to free yourself from the grips of adolescence (it can go on well into your twenties) but once you do, you’re stunned, horrified, and delighted that such a time ever existed in your life. The second you make the first step to adulthood, adolescence will feel so far away, like a very lucid dream. Teen dream. TC mark

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    • Gazeclear

      this was great ryan

      • cecie

        ORLY?

    • spark

      …except it’s “lying” in bed (unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs).

    • Sophia

      I love love love this. Hopeless romantic melodrama is so human, and people who scorn it make me sad.

      • ZZXC

        So I’m not a human…? I avoid hopeless, romantic melodrama as a teen because it’s stupid. Especially if you can realize it’s hopeless, romantic melodrama and still continue it. Unless you have some real drama, STFD.

        • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

          You’re making her sad in your attempts to sound like you’re above the beautiful thing about being a teenager. Relish in it, kid, or you’re going to have a really rough go in your 20’s.

        • http://twitter.com/mung_beans Mung Beans

          you can have both, you know

    • guest

      Considering I was a late bloomer when it comes to experiencing the awesome parts of being a teenager, I don’t really miss much about my teen years.

      That being said, it still amazes me how I ever thought I would care about/obsess over the same friends/guys/situations as I did in high school for the rest of my life. So yeah, sad/awesome.

      • Kisss

        I think the last bit is what this article should have been about, instead of a generalized version of a suburban teen. I don’t think there is a teen in the world that  FULLY (they know but…) realizes that high school will be irreverent someday but it doesn’t sink in until we’re out. The cute boy/girl from 6th period that you’re pining over, writing ‘s/he’s so fine’ about him/her in your journal over and over, will look like a chump next to your future bf/gf and you’ll be so embarrassed at the time you spent talking about, writing about, thinking about them.

        • People92

          Exactly, HS was always so lame to me, everything was forced, and everyone was fake. The guy I use to crush on is so average compared to other guys i’ve seen. I guess when you live in a little bubble of HS you don’t have alot to choose from :/

        • guest

          yep. couldn’t wait to get out of that high school bubble.

    • http://twitter.com/alinatrifan Alina Trifan

      You mentioned Paramore and now I love you with the force of a teenage girl.

    • lys

      hahah totally- the postal service ( i listened to that when i was a stupid teenager) or if you’re a teenager now, paramore.

      i have a 16 year old cousin, who is kind of dressing/acting like i was at 15/16 and i thought i could be a cool, older cousin, and give her a bunch of my cds i listened to. then i realized that she’s listening to stuff like paramore and i’d probably just make her less cool if she listened to that stuff. it makes me feel like a lame old person.

      • Sophie

        Im 15 and trust me, its sorta embarassing to say that you like paramore, unless your like a 12 yaer old wannabe emo kid..

        Give them the cds, knowing about older  music/movies makes you seem more cultured and grown up, thus making you seem very un-lame.

      • Sophie

        Im 15 and trust me, its sorta embarassing to say that you like paramore, unless your like a 12 yaer old wannabe emo kid..

        Give them the cds, knowing about older  music/movies makes you seem more cultured and grown up, thus making you seem very un-lame.

      • Sophie

        Im 15 and trust me, its sorta embarassing to say that you like paramore, unless your like a 12 yaer old wannabe emo kid..

        Give them the cds, knowing about older  music/movies makes you seem more cultured and grown up, thus making you seem very un-lame.

    • lys

      hahah totally- the postal service ( i listened to that when i was a stupid teenager) or if you’re a teenager now, paramore.

      i have a 16 year old cousin, who is kind of dressing/acting like i was at 15/16 and i thought i could be a cool, older cousin, and give her a bunch of my cds i listened to. then i realized that she’s listening to stuff like paramore and i’d probably just make her less cool if she listened to that stuff. it makes me feel like a lame old person.

    • oink

      you heard that Ryan? that’s my puberty weeping.

    • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

      Every now and then, I miss being 15.  I just remember being so idealistic and confident in myself.  The future was nebulous, but whatever I thought I would become felt so real and within my grasp…I wonder how I would have felt had I seen where I would be 11 years from then.  I can’t say I hate being 26.  I enjoy it…but the optimism is frequently missing.  I guess reality has to set in at some point.    

    • Guestface Killah

      I’m going rogue anonymous to say that one time I was staring soulfully into my boyfriend’s eyes on the couch at his mom’s house and I actually said OUT LOUD the Postal Service line that god himself did make us into corresponding shapes like puzzle pieces from the clay.

      oh god help help help the shame burns white-hot

    • so old now

      “You don’t really know how distant you’re truly going to become; you don’t know that you’re going to find about their engagement on Facebook when they were the ones who coached you through losing your virginity. And that’s how someone who once was your everything can slowly turn into nothing. Time is the silent killer of all things.”

      this stings

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1781767179 Merrick Johnson

      It’s Postal Service and Death Cab for me now… oh, the joy of being 15

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1781767179 Merrick Johnson

      It’s Postal Service and Death Cab for me now… oh, the joy of being 15

    • Nick

      I’ve made a conscious effort to retain some of my angst. Not all of it of course. Then I’d be the same self destructive, insane mess that I was in high school. Just enough to keep things interesting.

      Being stoic and rational all of the time is boring.

    • TH

      I’m only 20, so barely on the outside of this. I can still remember these feelings like it was yesterday.

      • Nick

        that’s because it was.

      • Nick

        that’s because it was.

    • Merridith

      I immediately thought of Maggie when I started to read the second paragraph, and actually reading her name was unreal.

      This is a great article, Ryan. your nostalgia is giving me nostalgia.

    • D Rudd

      Sound of silver talk to me

      makes you want to feel like a teenager

      until you remember the feelings of

      a real life emotion of teenager

      then you think again.

      James Murphy knows us better than we know ourselves.

    • Anonymous

      Is it just me or is this just a more adequate but summarized version of the perks of being a wallflower? Or maybe I’m the only teenager on thoughtcatalog who stopped feeling the angst

      • zzxc

        haha no angst is what teens felt in the 90s and early 2000s. it faded and ultimately gone by 2007.

      • Sophie

        Yup, i dont feel very angsty either and im a teenager..I feel like teen culture nowadays has just become too commercialised… though that’s probably a very angsty-teen thing to say :P

        • Anonymous

          I mean with the constant speed and influx of media having to do with teenagers, I guess we probably just got used to that impression people had of us and it’s like we’re either trying to prove them wrong or live up to it. Idk, the reason why i’m on thought catalog is because I have an alter ego of a 22 year old :P

      • Sophie

        Yup, i dont feel very angsty either and im a teenager..I feel like teen culture nowadays has just become too commercialised… though that’s probably a very angsty-teen thing to say :P

    • Anonymous
    • Guest

      You grew up in a different time. This isn’t how a majority of teens are imo, the ‘doing stuff that could kill you’ part maybe but the rest seems to be for those shy/not in the “in”-crowd kids who still have a bit of innocence (not the right word I want but can’t think of it).

      Death Cab for Cutie? The Postal Service? Try Lil’ Wayne or something.

      • Sophia

        Maybe Ryan was one of those kids and is writing for those of us who were, who had or still have a little innocence.

        • Guest

          I wasn’t attacking the article or anything. :x I did acknowledge that he was writing to the innocent-type, which was the point of the original comment.  Just some specifics would be nice in a lot of his articles because he totally writes to a certain demographic and even those out of that demographic can still read it, it’s just annoying when you feel like he’s saying “I know how all teens feel rather than just the type of teen I was”.

          When I was in middle school this was all true. Maybe not the parents thing, but the rest really hit home with me. BTW, off topic but isn’t the new Postal Service for kids Owl City or something? 

    • Guest

      you are unbearable.

    • Ladolcevita445

      I thought this was fab. I could relate to every word. I’m 24. Although, instead of the 2 sips of beer it was shots of Jager; silly but true. I think some of the first few comments have completely missed the point or are just angry teenagers themselves.

    • eeeeee

      This story is so on point.

      “You’re kissing someone who you never thought would kiss you back. It’s all about lusting after the unattainable when you’re an adolescent, which can be sad because of the low self-esteem thing, but it also makes moments when you get the guy/girl extra special.”

      ^That is so, so true. I hope that now that I’m in my 20s that won’t go away. I don’t want the magic of being a teenager to go away.

    • Chase

      very good ryan

    • Monica

      Is it bad that I’m sixteen and I barely feel any of these things? My inability to make friends has really put a hindrance on my teenage experience.

      Sure, I can relate to some, but I still feel like I’m missing out on something. On the invincibility of adolescence. I spend most of my time alone reading and observing and feeling completely ignored. It sucks, and I know when I look back on these years I’ll be met with nothing but resentment. 

      • LeslieRules!

        I’m 19 and I wanna give you some advice. You should get out there and have the time of your life. One day you’ll wake up and it’ll all just be a memory. Make sure it’s worth remembering.

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