“And just like that she collapsed under the weight of all her double standards,” I recently read that on Twitter, yet I’m not entirely sure where the quote originated– I can trace it back to the user @thesupergrobi but it might have been from someone else. I’m not the most Twitter-saavy, but nevertheless, I can’t shake it. I think because I work with teenagers all day, along with having a teenage niece and friends with daughters in that pre-teen age, I just seem to be surrounded by teenage angst, even though I’m
really old far removed from that age myself.
I can remember my teenage years fairly well and even though much of it was fun, I still cringe when I think of other aspects; the style, the hair, the boys, the fact that I was in ridiculously good shape but thought I was a whale…typical teenage girl stuff. And that’s all it was really, just stuff. Nonsense. The really big events that took place during my teenage years, well, that is what made me, me. Some family issues that had a pretty profound effect on me, my friends who made me laugh daily, another boy who grabbed my heart and like a STUPID TYPICAL GIRL I lost my sense of self and followed him on down to college. At the time, my mom wanted to kill me. Honestly, wring my neck. But sometimes there is no arguing with a teenage girl (have you ever tried? It’s like fighting a cheetah, alligator, and dragon all at once) and so my mom let me make my own mistakes even though it was hard for her to do, even though she wanted to scream, “I AM YOUR MOTHER AND I AM RIGHT!” but she knew I needed to learn on my own and that doing everything for me was really not doing anything for me.
So I made my own choices, and I stumbled and cried at times, but I also learned important lessons: kindness trumps superiority, hard work beats laziness, apologizing is difficult but necessary, and sometimes there is not an easy fix to a problem. My choices, sometimes good, sometimes bad, led me to where I am now; following that boy resulted in transferring colleges which led me to my husband. Looking back, those mistakes were blessings. My mom gave me, her 17 year old stubborn daughter, that gift. Her 17 year old, bitchy, mean, stubborn, girl that she probably disliked more than she liked during those years.
I see this teenage girl angst all the time: how hard girls try to just be seen. I see how girls try to act like they don’t care, and really they are caring about every little action. Over thinking conversations, analyzing tiny little gestures, tugging at their shirts and clothing like they want to crawl out of their skin. I just want to show these girls that all of this DOESN’T MATTER. Nobody is going to remember the day they wore a shirt to school that felt too small. Nobody cares that they ran out of mascara. Nobody is judging them based on the name brand that they may or may not be wearing. And those that do choose to make a petty comment on such trivial matters? Trust me, their lives are not going to be ultra-glamorous in ten years. The “glamorous” lives will go to those who work hard. Those who are good people, who make good choices, who strive for more than putting down the girls with out-of-style clothes.
But I know that this is their life, so it does matter at the moment. I just wish I could fast forward to twenty years down the road and show them that all of this high school BS will be out of everyone’s minds and these girls will be living their lives for themselves and their families, not for the approval of three hundred other kids their age.
All girls want to feel validated, like they mean something. Like they’re seen. I get it, it’s human nature to want to feel valued, but I just want to stand on my desk in my classroom and yell, “LADIES, DO YOU KNOW HOW BEAUTIFUL YOUR HEART IS? DO YOU KNOW HOW POWERFUL YOUR VOICE CAN BE IF YOU USE IT THE RIGHT WAY? YOU ARE STRONG! YOU ARE SMART! YOU HAVE SUCH POTENTIAL! STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR CLOTHES! STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE WEARING, OR SAYING, OR DOING! START A MOVEMENT! PUT YOUR IDEAS TO WORK! CHANGE THE FREAKING WORLD BECAUSE YOU CAN AND THAT IS SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN A HOLLISTER SHIRT!”
But teenage girls are teenage girls, and they hear what they want to hear. They roll their eyes, they pretend to not care, they say ‘like’ and ‘so’ and ‘you know’ way too much (old habits die hard), they cry over boys, and then they push the people away who try to help.
They are just trying to find their way, find their niche, hold up their world without collapsing under the weight of it–they’ll take our help when they’re ready.
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