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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What I loved most about being a teen

When I saw this month's question, I was stumped about what I'd write about and for pretty much the exact opposite reason that Jenny O'Connell mentioned her blog on the topic.

I hated everything about being a teen. Seriously. I hated school. I hated struggling to fit in outside of school. I dated bad boys who tended to cause more heartache than they were worth. My home life was kinda rocky with my parents on the verge of divorce and that aside, I felt they totally didn't understand me. And most of all I hated feeling like I had absolutely no freedom. My parents had rules, the school had rules. And I was living in this town that I thought was totally boring and stuck-up and I just wanted to escape but dammit I wasn't old enough too.

Okay, so there were a couple things I liked about being a teen, while I was a teen. I liked punk rock and going to shows, but you've heard me talk about that plenty. I liked my friends, though sometimes there was even painful drama there, and I covered the teenage relationships that mattered the most to me in this blog. I liked doing some rather self destructive things, but yeah, that was no good in the long run.

But mostly what I realized is I have a lot more fondness for my teen years as an adult looking back. Yeah, I said it. I'm waiting for sixteen year old me to appear from the past and punch me.

I think I started to realize it while I was writing Ballads of Suburbia. I set the book in my hometown and in doing that I began to see that while I wasn't a fan of the town itself (and I honestly still have issues), there were some places I loved. I took great joy in writing about the details of the places I'd memorized. Even though I thought I was bored as hell sitting around at Scoville Park or Mills Park or Punk Rock Denny's or Ambrosia's or Jedi's, I was spending time with my friends or sometimes just sitting quietly writing like in the picture to the right which was taken at Mills Park probably right around my sixteen birthday. Do you know what I'd give to spend a carefree hour let alone several hours a night sitting outside in the park or at a diner with friends. Oh, it sounds magical. What I called boredom back then, I realize now is this glorious thing called FREE TIME! I have no idea what that thing is now says the grown-up author who is publishing her blog two days late at two am because she spent all day writing while feeling guilty about not answering email or doing wedding stuff or.....

The freedom of living on your own is not all teenage me thought it was cracked up to be. Bills, the jobs that pay the bills, that stuff is not fun.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be past all the angst and pain. I'm glad that I have a better relationship with my parents, found a good boy, and have drama-free friendships. I'm glad that I went to a college that I truly enjoyed. I'm glad that if I wanted to take a road trip tomorrow no one could tell me not to, but I wish I had the free time to actually take that road trip or read a good book or have a long chat with friends.

Ultimately I think the best thing about my teenage years was just surviving them. It made me a stronger person and one who can look back and say, hey, there were some moments that were really sort of perfect in a simple way that I just couldn't appreciate at the time. What about you? Did you adore your teen years? Or absolutely loathe them? If so, do you find there are some things you can appreciate now? And if you are still a teen, what do you love or hate... and embrace a boring moment and chill out for me, okay?


Jennifer Echols said...


ReggieWrites said...

WOW. That's all I have to say.

Joanne Levy said...

Great post, Stephanie. I enjoyed being a teen at the time, although I can't say it was a very productive time in my life. I was bored and felt misunderstood (why couldn't my parents understand that socializing and partying was way more important than getting an education?) so I ended up a high school drop out.
But I wouldn't change anything if I could go back - I learned a lot and paid for my mistakes, but all those experiences created the person I am now. Some parts of our lives we can only survive, but it's through those times that I think we learn what it really means to live.
Steph, I so appreciate your honesty in your posts-I am sure your readers (as in, your target YA demographic) also appreciate your honesty and it rings true with them in a very relatable way. Thank you for sharing.

YA Book Realm said...

as someone currently, in there teen years I totally agree!!! When I look back at middle school years, I had free time and I did not feel guilty about it. Like right now I guess this would be free time for me except I should totally be doing my summer reading for school am I doing it no? And later I'm going to regret spending an entire day not doing/finishing my work. Life sucks.

By the way I love reading about authors favorite teen moments. Great topic!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I didn't like my teen years. I still look back and cringe. I went to three different high schools, in three different cities, and two different states. I was never in one place long enough to make friends and establish myself in anything. I was miserable and had a gigantic chip on my shoulder. But, at the same time, I'd take a little of that freedom I had in my teen years. Oh yeah, and the fact that Mom and Dad paid for everything!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

I'm glad you all appreciated the post and Joanne thanks for your words about my honesty. It's just kinda the way I am, but I'm glad if others benefit from it!

YA Book Realm, I hear you. I remember that stress of high school!

13reasonswhy, yeah I still cringe a bit too and had a huge chip on my shoulder for different reasons. Funny you mention moving around a lot, I'm working on a novel w a main character who deals with that right now....