Whether their teenage experience was truly worth revisiting or whether nostalgia has twisted these adults’ memories, I do not know, however, I am fairly certain that I, like Jenna Rink in 13 Going on 30, will not look back fondly upon my blemished teenage years when I am 30, flirty, and thriving.
The high stress levels that come with attending Marlborough, starting to stray from parents, wanting to feel accepted and searching for an identity have made me, and many others, feel awkward and unsure about identity and how to act. Scrutiny and self-doubt seem constant throughout the teenage years and are only heightened by the use of social media by 90% of teens in America.
The conscious decision of social media members to display the positive and light-hearted aspects of their lives and hide parts that are not as fun surrounds the unadvertised parts of life with shame and denial. Social media also allows members to directly compare themselves to others, who are also only representing their charismatic side, and cause everybody to feel self-conscious.
As we learned from Dan Siegel, teenagers also often experience emotions with more poignancy than others. I hate it when adults attribute my behavior to a stage in my life because it feels like they’re disregarding what I’m going through. However, brain reshaping and emotionalness do offer an explanation for the deep sadness or anger I feel when someone gives me a dirty look or takes the last cookie from the café.
I will be glad to shed my uncomfortable, adolescent skin upon turning 18 and entering legal adulthood. I understand that my growth out of this uncomfortable middle period is not instantaneous, but I imagine that leaving home to be somewhat independent at college will play a big role in my transformation into a confident woman of the world.
However, despite the embarrassment and stress of being a teenager, it is a necessary period of development that, while sometimes unbearable, can also be fun and not entirely bad. One major perk for fortunate teenagers is that we do not have all of the responsibilities that come with adulthood and, for the most part, can come crying to our parents when situations become too difficult. Embracing the clichés of teenage by wearing too much makeup, staying awake in class solely because of caffeine, going to parties, and, I assume, burning an ex’s belongings, is also fun and feels like a rite of passage. When we are not taking ourselves too seriously, accepting the fact that most of us are graceless messes can also offer relief and solace.
Because most of us are not Jenna Rink and cannot skip to adulthood, we must endure this phase of growth and use this time to explore our individuality. I hope to walk away from this difficult period of life with somewhat of an understanding of myself, the framework of an identity, and many tales of embarrassment to rehash with friends in my thirties.