three women in assorted-color tops

How To Be A Teenager

Be young. Be so young. Be born in 1996. Do you even know what that means? Do you even know what people who were born in the 80s think of you? They can’t believe you’re a fully formed human being. 1996 is supposed to mean placenta, training wheels, kindergarten. It’s not supposed to mean cigarettes, ashy fingers, and sucking on someone’s mouth. 1996 isn’t supposed to mean that yet.

But it does. It does mean that. It means you’re a teenager which, hi, good luck existing for the next few years. Have you ever been a teenager before? No? Crap. Okay. Here it goes. Here’s what it’s like.

Being a teenager means constantly fluctuating between being fearless and terrified of everything. Sure, you’ll drink that handle of vodka and vomit rainbow colors the next day. Why not? You’re not scared. You’ve got nothing else to do, besides FEEL EVERYTHING and have LIFE EXPERIENCES. You want to do everything. You want to have stories to tell at lunchtime and feel like you’re living, like your life isn’t actually dull. So, yeah. You’ll vomit and you’ll survive because you’re 16 and can survive almost anything. You’re bulletproof.

You’re sad. You want to die. You’re killing yourself. Where’s the Gillette razor blade? Which way do you do it again: across or up and down? Wait, JK. I’m not dying. My friend just invited me to this party I thought I wasn’t invited to so I’m going to live. I’M SO HAPPY. I LUV MY LIFE. I LUV BRITTANY, THOMAS, ASHLEIGH, SAM, AND EVERYONE ELSE. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! :)

Crap. You’re sad again. Thomas wouldn’t let you listen to his iPod at lunch but he let Brittany listen, which is so typical. Brittany gets everything. She’s so pretty. You hate her. You hate everyone for what they have and hate yourself for everything you don’t. When will you be the person who gets to share someone’s iPod? When will you finally get what you want? Right now you don’t have anything. You don’t have financial independence, your own place, a significant other, a best, best friend. You’ll be convinced that you’ll never get those things, that you will always be friendless and loveless. A time after high school, a time that feels any different than the way it does now seems unfathomable.

You’re preppy. Wait, you’re a vegan punk. Now you listen to indie rock and eat steaks. You like girls. You’re a misogynist. Oops, just kidding! You’re gay and love to drink and smoke weed. I thought you were Christian? Oh right, that’s just what your parents called you. Gotcha.

Have good years and bad years. 9th grade sucked, 10th grade was okay, and 11th grade was AWESOME because you found new friends and started going to parties. All you really care about are the summers though. In high school, everything worth talking about happened in the summertime. It’s like your life is in slow motion for nine months and then BAM! You get new friends, kiss your crush, go through puberty, end a best friendship and come back in the fall as a changed person. The first day of school is always such a mindf–k because some people come back looking unrecognizable. “OMG, did you hear what they did this summer? You won’t believe it…”

Everything moves by so slow and then so fast. It’s nothing but extremes. You can spend four days straight with one person and go on so many adventures. You go home to eat and sleep but that’s it. You  barely see your parents. It’s like you went on a drug binge except instead of drugs, you’re getting high off of being with your buddy. Close friendships can develop in a matter of hours. You hang out with someone on a Friday and your BFFs by Monday. It can burn out just as quickly too. One day everything is fine and the next, you go to your spot at lunchtime and your BFF is acting weird towards you. WTF HAPPENED? Chances are, it was something so minor but before you know it, the friendship is over. “We were BEST FRIENDS junior year and now we barely talk. I still don’t know what happened.”

You might fall in “love” with someone, you might not. There are two kinds of experiences you can have in high school: the one that includes a BF/GF scenario and the one that doesn’t. It’s that altering. Because if you have a BF/GF, you’re probably no longer a virgin, which changes your world entirely. The divide that exists between those who’ve had sex in high school and those who haven’t is huge. I mean, I guess there’s always a big divide but high school puts every difference under a magnifying glass. It’s a rat race but no one’s clear on what happens at the finish line.

Your parents are terrible and you’re convinced that they were born 45 and miserable. They couldn’t have ever been teenagers themselves. If they had, they wouldn’t actually derive pleasure from ruining your life. They would know how important it is for you to go to this party.

Everything you do during this age, everything that you were so certain made you cool, will embarrass the hell out of you in a few years. Just saying. I mean, go dye your hair orange. I support everyone having an ugly phase but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You’re going to kiss. You’re going to scream. You’re going to put your life in danger without ever realizing it. You’re going to listen to bad music. You’re going to be bored. You’re going to feel high off your feelings. You’re going to feel high off drugs. You’re going to be close to people who will feel like strangers in a matter of years. You’re going to do terrible things. You’re going to do your homework… maybe. You’re going to rely entirely on fun nights with your friends for your happiness because you don’t know how to love yourself yet. You’re going to be so happy and so sad.

And you’re rarely, if ever, going to realize how lucky you are to be a teenager until it’s over. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Thirteen
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I'm a brat. Read more articles from Ryan on Thought Catalog.

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