Being a teen is supposed to be fun; you're growing up and experiencing new things. You aren't stressed, don't have a care in the world, and don't have real problems, right? Wrong. Teen life has changed significantly in the past decade, and as it turns out, being a teen isn't all it's cracked up to be. After all, it takes one to know one.
I'm 15, that's pretty pivotal. You aren't quite old enough to drive, or get a good job, but yet, you're too old for toys and playgrounds. There are unwritten expectations. You're supposed to be responsible, set a good example for young people, and be studious. You aren't supposed to act out, throw fits, or get bad grades. You're supposed to be "as close to perfection as possible"—after all, colleges are watching. But that gets hard, especially when life gets in the way. And trust me, life will always get in the way.
When I first started High School I had these unrealistic expectations that I'd just fit in and be popular; everyone would be my friend. Grades wouldn't be hard to keep up with, even though I'm in all advanced classes. There'd be drama but it'd be manageable. Couples would keep their private lives taboo, and so forth and so on. Bottom line: I was wrong. My first week of High School was quite the rude awakening. I was given loads of work, on the first day even, and already had a major project due the following class. I barely made any friends, and the ones I had made weren't that great. Drama was horrible, and it wrecked a lot of things, and news flash: couples keep their relationships far from taboo, even if teachers are next to them.
The first week passed and I was happy I made it through. The second week went about the same, and so did the third and the fourth. I had adjusted and I thoroughly enjoyed school. I went to football games, hung out with all of my old friends and a few of my new friends, things were looking up. Then I got my scheduled changed. Things went south from there. I had to make new friends, try and bring up all my failing grades since I went from 'A's' to starting new classes with zeros because I wasn't in them previously. As if that wasn't enough, within the first ten minutes of my new schedule, I had somehow already made an enemy! I'm a nice person if I do say so myself, so how this happened I'm unsure.
As time healed my wounds, I adjusted once again to my new schedule and got used to said enemy. My stress level increased, however, and by November my anxiety level was through the roof. Going to stores was a struggle, and going to school made me want to cry my eyes out. But this had become normal for me. NORMAL. How is that normal? A lot of my "friends" had also been pressuring me to do weird things. That's right, peer pressure is real. They made me feel guilty for never being kissed, or for not having a boyfriend when "practically everyone at our school who's anyone is doing it." That was, once again, a rude awakening. I lost a lot of confidence and got self conscious since I have never had a boyfriend and that was something I thought I was fine with. And as if that wasn't enough, I learned that tons of people at my school initiate in illegal things all the time. These things were getting to me, and I just didn't feel like I fit in, like high school just wasn't for me.
But once again, I pushed through. I put on a smile to hide my depressive thoughts and forced myself to believe I was fine (I wasn't). At the end of November my parents went on vacation. I was sad because my parents had been the only thing getting me through the weeks and knowing they weren't going to be around for a week scared the crap out of me. Needless to say that week had been going fine, until Thursday. Thursday started out fine; it was the same as always. However, when the end of A2 came around, the school went into an internal and external lockdown. It wasn't a drill. This was my worst fear, heck I even hate having to do those drills, but this was for real. My classmates and I huddled on the floor, shaking whenever a noise rattled through our school. I believed I was going to die. I was going to die on the cold, hard floor with people whom I didn't even really like. I'd never see my parents again, and they wouldn't know that I had died since they were on vacation. I wanted desperately to cry, but as with everything else in this lamenting story: I pushed through. The lockdowns were lifted and my aunt picked me up. What occurred in that school that day is something that still gives me nightmares. I never want to think about it.
At this point in my story it's evident to everyone that with everything I had been through, I wasn't okay. I started counting down the days until Christmas break and even then I had an anxiety attack on Christmas in the middle of dinner. I didn't want people's pity; I didn't want anything from anyone. In fact, I desperately wanted to be alone. The months came and passed and I just felt hopeless.
About a week before my birthday, I decided enough was enough. Feeling like this all the time wasn't fun. I started to fake being happy more, and before I knew it I genuinely felt happy. I went back to not caring so much about people, and doing the things I wanted to do. I kicked a lot of people out of my life, and brought positive people into my circle of close friends. I started writing; things like short stories, novels, and now this. Anything to get my voice heard. After my November event, I even attended the March For Our Lives rally, because what happened at my school should not be able to happen at other schools. I'm not totally fine, I'm just a teen. I have to go with it. I have to continue to push through. I have to learn from my mistakes and the mistakes from others. I have to decide for myself what my limit is and if I think giving into peer pressure is worth it. This past year has felt like hell, but it's been worth it.
To all the teens out there like me, push through. Don't give in. Find an outlet—you deserve to be heard. Don't pay attention to all the negative media, or the negative people in your life. Find something you like, find people that make you feel empowered, and happy. Stress is normal; nobody said greatness comes easy. Lastly, never forget you deserve the world and nothing less.
And after all this, it's safe to say, teen life has definitely changed a lot since our parents were in our shoes.