HS Insider

Column: Teenagehood is not the end

Students hug as they are let out of school at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles in March 2020 when LAUSD announced that schools will be closed due to the Coronavirus. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

If I could talk face-to-face with sixth grade me, she would bluntly tell me: “You should be doing more with your life.”

And I have thought about this endlessly — because of teen movies, I feel that I should be doing more: socializing with anyone who crosses my path, making reckless decisions, falling in love and experiencing immeasurable heartbreak and driving mindlessly until I can not differentiate if it is early morning or approaching midnight.

Instead, I am hunched over at my desk, studying for my classes that keep me from achieving my teenage dreams.

Is this what my life is supposed to be? Why is it that I am busy dealing with my hand cramping from writing too much, while simultaneously urging myself to stay awake for another hour more when I am supposed to peak during my teenagerhood?

I want to live — experience things and make mistakes, then come out of the chaos as a better person. After all, that is what all the movies seem to scream at me.

Am I an abnormality? Am I wasting my years away? Will I ever have the time to pursue the perfect idealistic dreams formulated through films and books? Why haven’t I had my first kiss yet, or snuck out of the house and drive recklessly 

Is the image I have dreamed for myself so detached from reality that I cannot realize that my life does not end at teenagerhood?

It is scary to think that in a couple of years, I will be considered a young adult. That thought has been the foundation of boiling resentment; it feels like life is restricting me from being a teenager, and in a couple of years, the only one I can be able to blame is myself. 

Then I remember a quote from Mr. Rogers: “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” 

So gently, I tell myself to abandon my resentments. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I am still living. My everyday life is the progression and change I so desperately seek, and that should be enough for me. 

Teenagehood is not the end of my life, and it will never be.

My story is not defined by the standards I uphold for myself: I do not need the perfect teenage years because in the end, I will make mistakes. I will have boring days and dreary days, alongside days where I will fall in love and be so inexplicably happy that it will feel like I am the main character of my own movie; I just need to wait for them to happen.

I do not need to rush life, because life knows what it wants for me.

Though my life may not be the teen movies sixth-grade me envisioned, I know she would be proud of me. With her round, dark green glasses, she would hug me and tell me she is proud of me.

And truly, that is all I will ever need. 

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