The adolescent years are ephemeral, or so I'm told. At the age of fifteen we are told to grow up; however, we are also told that we are merely children. We are constantly stereotyped and silenced. Many see us as shallow and selfish. I understand that I have a lot more to grow, but I have come a long way.
When I was five years old, all I cared about was soccer and Winnie The Pooh. It was nice not having to care about the rest of the world. Such an innocence now seems ethereal. It is an exquisite thing of the past that now seems impossible. At the age of five, I was told I could be whoever I wanted. It's funny how the world has hopes for us at that age, yet ignores us ten years later.
When I was eight years old, I grew up too quickly. I was worried about the amount of money in the bank account and what the world thought of me. I was dealing with bullies and toxic friendships. I didn't know it at the time, but I was developing depression.
When I was eleven years old, I only got worse. I gave in to what my peers thought I should be. I allowed myself to fall into a "mean girl's" spell. I am ashamed to say that I let the "mean girl" convince me to bully one of my only real friends. I was depressed and just wanted to be accepted. I thought they would accept me if I backstabbed my friend. I came to an epiphany when I saw that dear friend of mine crying in the bathroom, telling me she wanted to die. This girl was on the same boat as me. She felt the same as I did about trying to fit in. I didn't need to seek the approval of nefarious girls when this friend was right in front of me. Though she immediately forgave me, I apologized profusely. The lesson she taught me on kindness and forgiveness is ineffable. To be kind and forgive someone is not at all weak. It is incredibly strong.
At the age of thirteen, I was still finding myself. I always tried my hardest to wear the right clothes and say the right thing. I was awkward and I knew it. My eyebrows were constantly over tweezed and I never bothered to wash the grease off my face. I was loud and annoying on the outside so that no one knew how sad I was on the inside. I had multiple anxiety attacks daily. To me, everything was terrifying. The anxiety felt like I was drowning, yet on fire at the same time.
Flash forward two years of intensive therapy and medication, and I am alive. I was not alive years earlier, for I was merely surviving. I learned that life gets better, it just takes time. I've lost a lot of people, yet somehow I've found myself. Though I am stressed out from both high school and college courses, I'm happy. Even though I am trapped in a small-minded town, I know that I will escape and move on to more grand adventures. Life isn't a treadmill. You don't have to keep running in the same place. You have the capability of stepping away and running to where you choose.
By the age of fifteen I have learned what some adults will never learn. I know that I can choose my own path. I've learned that I am in control of who I am. I know that the adults who claim that I am shallow and selfish are wrong. In fact, I pity them. I pity anyone who assumes that today's teens won't last in "the real world". Whoever thinks that we are too weak or shallow will be in for a real surprise when today's fifteen year old's change tomorrow's world.