Who you are when you’re fourteen is not who you are going to become. In fact, I would argue you are hardly a person at all. In this regard, I have proof. I have always been an avid archivist and was recently going through some old journals, inspired by the hilarity of the Mortified podcast. Case in point, here are some actual quotations taken from my actual journals from the years 2004 and 2005:
“I have come to the conclusion that I am doomed.”
“My song is Crush by Mandy Moore because it describes our situation perfectly.”
“It’s hard to be cheery and describe a good day when you’re dead inside.”
“Geometry sucks big ones.”
“I watched Joan of Arcadia and this hott science guy kissed a science girl and my heart went all aflutter. I want that.”
“Stephenie Meyer is my hero.”
“MCR is GOD.”
“Everyone hates me.”
“I don’t think <name redacted> likes me. Yesterday online he was such a sweetie! Today he acted totally different…I’m gonna keep him until the dance. I really want a date and a Valentine.”
“Yesterday was the dance. Guess what? <Name redacted> broke up with me! At the dance! How classy! Grrrr. I HATE HIM.”
“I want so badly for someone to love me.”
“<NAME REDACTED> DOES NOT LIKE ME AND I DO NOT LIKE HIM! I will not deny he’s cute and I wanted to sit on his lap today. SHUT UP BRAIN!”
“What am I doing? My life is spiraling in the wrong direction.”
At age fourteen and fifteen, I was less a person than a breeding ground of pop culture, intense emotions, skewed visions of myself, and other people’s interests. Looking back, I can hardly recognize that person. The words I read in my journals I recognize as my own, but the sentiments and situations are fleeting and hard to recall. So much of what I used to regard as world shattering is of little importance now. There is so much minutiae I’ve forgotten that only paper can completely recall now.
I used to be boy obsessed. I was often thinking about the guys in my small bit of pond: who was “so hott,” who I could be interested in, who might be interested in me, strategies to find that ever elusive romance. As if an eighth grader was even capable of a nuanced relationship. What I thought I wanted and what I really needed were a dark chasm apart but that didn’t stop me from obsessing and longing and feeling inadequate. If anything I was in love with the idea of love, of what I saw portrayed in books and media. I liked Twilight for god’s sake. What the hell did I know?
I’m a little embarrassed about that person I used to be. Yet, in between the mortification, there are nuanced passages about what I was learning in school and what I wanted to achieve in the future. I documented nearly every class day to day and often wrote at length about what I was reading and absorbing on TV. I was confused and conflicted about how I felt about things and people and wrote about it at length. I often misinterpreted other people’s silence as hatred. To be honest, when I think back on that time, I don’t understand how I even survived middle school. No one should be able to function with that many intense emotions swirling inside them.
I was so eager. I wanted so badly to be liked and loved. I wanted to please my friends. I remember the transition from middle to high school was an interesting one. I started hanging with a slightly different crowd, wearing more dark colors, swearing more, listening to emo bands. My freshman year I cut my hair into a bob and dyed my hair jet black. I thought I was awesome. Maybe I was. I still like that thing I did with my hair. But I grew out of it. By the end of sophomore year I was well on my way to becoming the person I recognize more as myself.
I lacked authenticity. I was like a sponge, absorbing whatever I picked up around me, something I don’t think is uncommon in school settings. Middle and high school are nothing if not microcosms that need to be survived. But by the time I was sixteen, tendrils of “me”-ness definitely began developing. I start obsessing over boys a little less, start thinking more about what I really and less about what everyone else is doing, finding validation more in myself and less in others. I found friends that I had more in common with, who were kinder to me. I stuck with the Honors and AP courses, Drama Club, Choir, and Latin. I was molded by the people I met and friendships I made, but I gradually became more of an individual and less a carbon copy. I was sharing in things because I wanted to. I suppose, that is what we can call growing up.
I’m grateful to those phases I went through. Sure, I am a definitely mortified by that person I used to be, but aren’t we all? No one looks back at their middle and high school years and thinks, what an intelligent and perfect creature I was. Those were the years I made a lot of mistakes. I fell down a lot, and those bruises helped shape me. I may be embarrassed by that teenager, but I look kindly on her. We were all just doing the best we could. Though, I still don’t understand what I saw in Twilight.
Until next time!
P.S. Regularly scheduled reviews should be coming back soon. I am getting close to finishing IQ84. Guys, this book is SO LONG. It is ridiculous. Soon, my pets! ❤