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Turning 20: An Ode To My Teenage Years

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up – well, specifically to become a teenager. I wanted to dress like them, talk like them, go do rebellious things and sneak out like them. I could not wait for that part of my life to begin. After all, most movies depict your teenage years as ‘the best time of your life’. That’s the problem though; movies and magazines had embedded a preconceived notion of what I thought being a teenager was all about. Safe to say, my teenage years did not pan out how I had planned.

For starters, I was in search of a best friend which never arrived (until the very end)– someone to share every moment of my teenage life with, to spill gossip, to talk and fan over boys with. I ached for someone I could be my wacky and odd self around, that I didn’t have to think of about everything I was going to say before it came out of my mouth. I would get anxiety before hanging out one on one with people – what if we run out of things to say? And it becomes so awkwardly quiet? How on earth would I cope with that silence?

I think we forget that most of the time, the reason we become friends with people in high school is that we are forced to be in contact with them for 5 days of the week. Convenience right? Did we even share much of the same interests? Probably not.

My early teenage years – between 13 and 16 – were probably the hardest for me to understand. I was confused that I wasn’t doing all this ‘teenage’ stuff I saw in the movies – I didn’t have the best friend, I didn’t have a ‘high-school sweetheart’, I didn’t sneak out of my home, or drink alcohol or smoke. Wasn’t this meant to be the most rebellious time of my life? Apparently, I had been let down.

I sulked a lot, listened to Green Day and stayed in my room for quite some time. I was bored, to say the least, and would often lash out at my mum for being so annoying. In hindsight, I definitely fit the stereotypical role of the ‘brooding’ teenager.

Constant worry plagued my mind as to why I hadn’t been kissed yet at 16, or why I hadn’t had any sexual experience with a boy. Friends would show me the boys they were talking to on Facebook, or talk about the date they had next weekend at the beach. It’s not until you get older that you realize that so many of us were in the same boat – there’s never the perfect or right age to kiss boys, to lose your virginity, to have a boyfriend. And looking back I am so fucking thankful that I didn’t during my teenage years – my emotional capability to cope was definitely not there. I couldn’t understand and figure out myself, let alone another person!

The most eventful year was definitely age 19. The best? Maybe, but equally filled with some of the worst times. I finally had my ‘best friend’, in which we did everything together. I used and abused alcohol, to the point where there are at least two-dozen nights I have no memory of. I partied, went to festivals, traveled alone to see friends interstate. I had my first sexual experiences. I went crazy over a boy who decided he ‘wasn’t ready’ to be in a relationship (who then dated another girl 2 weeks later). I then lost a few friends, gained new friends, and had old friends resurface. I’ve lied to my parents. I’ve experimented with drugs. I could condense every rebellious, teenage-angsty thing I ever did at the age of 19.

Maybe you had the best teen experience ever. Possibly it was the worst time of your life. Your teenage years aren’t meant to be perfect – we are not movie scripts or the girls we read about in magazines. So as I enter this new decade, I proceed with not a single expectation. I doubt I will be married by 27, or have my career in check by 25, but that’s okay. I’m just going to wing it and make up the script as I go along.


Words by Chiara Christian // Photography by Ava Williams.

© 2017 Reef Magazine

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1 Comment

  1. cheers to the teenage years! I am still living mine, and they are also not perfect, but as soon as you learn to embrace the ups as well as the downs in your life then you will find happiness no matter what age you are! Great post

    Liked by 1 person

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