7/16/12

Teenage Anguish, Adult Perspective


I’ll be 40 in ten days—yeah, I said 40.  Let’s not dwell on the postmortem part of my life.  Anyway, upon my recent visit back home (Tennessee), I realize what a strong presence my past still has in my life.  I don’t live in the past by any means, but it’s ever present in my life and influences all my decisions, for the good. 

During my teenage years, emotions filtered through me with crystal clarity. Don’t get me wrong, I was just as confused and trying to figure myself out as the next teen, but the emotions I incurred during that time resonated so loud and clear, I can still tap into them some twenty plus years later.  I believe that’s why I’m able to write YA.

I can only assume it was teenage hormones that amplified my emotions. Not only were my feelings and emotions sharper back then, they were also bipolar.  From one extreme to the other, I’d be high on life one minute and a single pimple would mark the end of the world the next minute.  I can make light about the drama of my teenage emotions now, but back then, it was insulting that my feelings were not taken seriously.

While I was home, I ran into my past, my high school sweetheart...a chapter I had closed and moved on from YEARS ago.  I’m proud to say that despite the emotional train wreck I went through after we broke up, I had only respect and cordial feelings toward him now.  But more importantly, I’m so grateful we reminisced because I realized the true reason for why it took me so long to get over him. 

Back then, one could say that my mother and I were like oil and water, we just didn’t mix.  But I think more accurately I’d say it was like sand in one’s eye, extremely freaking painful.  When my high school sweetheart and I broke up, not only did I lose him, but I lost his loving and kind mother.  I was so wrapped up in the loss during that time, I wasn’t able to see the true reason for my grieving.  It took hind sight (and running into my old boyfriend) for me to see that.  It truly feels like a relief to have an explanation for all that mourning I did back then.  Do I think knowing that back then would have made the mourning less?  No.  But I do think it would have helped me close that chapter sooner.

Maybe that’s why I write YA books, to show teens how to close chapters in their life and make peace with what’s been dealt to them.  To teach them how to embrace their inner drama and bend it to their will and mold it into a better, stronger them.   Bad shit happens to everybody at some point in their lives.  It’s what you learn from the catastrophe and how you move forward that separates the complainers from the doers. 

Teenagers don’t want to hear “In twenty years [fill in blank with traumatic event] will not even matter.”  Because for them, right now [fill in blank with traumatic event] is the ONLY thing that matters!  You were a teen once. You remember how it was. Instead of minimizing their emotions, help them process through them.  Show them how to be stronger, positive people from their conflicts and they’ll be healthier adults.  
Our past molds us into who we are.  The trials and tribulations we go through during our teenage years are a significant influence to who we become because that’s the time in all our lives we transition from child to adult.  Use your adult perspective to guide, not belittle.  It can make or break a teen.

How about you, what adult perspectives can you lend to your teenage self?

3 comments :

  1. Wow. Great post, Dana! It's fascinating that you have the opportunity to revisit your teenage years in a way--so few of us really have that true hometown experience anymore. Love the perspective!

    I just wish I was more mature as a teen. If I had known then even a fraction of what I know now, life would have been so much easier!

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  2. Thanks, Ara. I love going back home. It brings up so much nostalgia from my youth. I guess you are right, not many people have that opportunity.

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  3. Because of Facebook, I have reconnected with so many high school friends. It's amazing how reminiscing brings some raw teen memories right back to the surface. Happy almost birthday.

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