Challenge 5: Act Your Age!

Challenge 5: List ten things you would tell your sixteen year old self, if you could.

Teenagers have a bad reputation. They’re loud. They’re obnoxious. They’re moody. They’re stupid. It’s just part of being a teenager and everyone expects and dreads it for seven years or so and then you grow out of it and you’re not supposed to be loud, obnoxious, moody or stupid anymore.

I was SUPER good at being moody. I was not good at being loud, obnoxious or stupid. By age thirteen I was so not-loud my teachers thought something was wrong with me and recommended me for a summer program designed to help junior high kids acclimate to high school through team building. They also recommended me for a program called the CATS program (the school mascot was the Wildcat) which meant that I would be taking college-prep level classes in English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

I hated and resented this.

Being in all college-prep level classes meant that I couldn’t be in any honors classes. At the time it was very important to me that I get into an Honors English class. English was the only academic area that I felt like I was any good at and I wanted a chance to prove it. But I was in the CATS program so I would just have to like it or lump it. So I set out to prove just how big of a lump I could be.

At the end of the year, by some miracle, my Biology teacher recommended that I skip ahead to Chemistry instead of going to Earth Sciences which was the next step on the college-prep ladder. It still wasn’t honors English, but it was a vote of confidence and suddenly my grades, mood, and activity level leaped up: I started doing my homework, running cross-country and joined the theatre club. I stopped being such a miserable blob of a person.

The point that I’m getting around to is that by age sixteen I was actually doing pretty well. I’d never EVER want to re-live it, but it wasn’t the worst time in my life either. My grades were pretty OK, I was involved in sports and arts, and I kept out of trouble. I tried to not worry my parents.

So while the challenge is to list ten things I would tell myself if I could really it boils down to one main theme:

Do more stupid shit.

There’s a lot of stupid stuff I just didn’t do that I can’t get away with anymore. I never skipped school- even on Senior Ditch Day (I was literally one of two Seniors who still went to classes. Word got out the next day. It still mortifies me to this day.) I never took a Ferris Bueller style day off. I never drank beer in the woods. I never climbed the fence around the local lake to swing on the rope swing. I never went joyriding. I never went skinny dipping or streaking. I never went downtown to a concert with friends. I never went to an unsupervised party. I never dyed my hair black, or green, or blue. I never played any pranks. I never TPed a house. I never got a detention.
You know, stupid shit.
I knew what the rules were and I followed them. And I regret that a little bit because there is a big difference between knowing what the rules are and testing where the boundaries actually lie: to know where rules bend and what it is possible to get away with because that grey area is very very important in real life. Teenagers may get a bad rep for being obnoxious and stupid and for breaking the rules- but they also get away with being obnoxious and stupid and breaking the rules simply because they are teenagers. There are only a few years of our lives where we get this kind of forgiveness and once those  years are over the opportunity is gone forever.
So I don’t have ten pieces of advice, I just have one: Do more stupid shit.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on August 2, 2013.

3 Responses to “Challenge 5: Act Your Age!”

  1. Ha Ha wait until you have your own teenager!


  2. I think I did all of the stupid shit on your list. Plus maybe a few extra stupid items. I look back and can’t believe I did them. You look back and can’t believe you didn’t. It’s all about perspective…

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