You slump on the couch after a 40-degree school day. You pull off your sweaty socks and flick on the TV. You get up and walk over to the fridge. You open it and see nothing of interest so you close it. You open it – still nothing. You shout down the hall and ask what’s for dinner. You’re feeling agitated because ‘that guy’ called you a fuckwit in second period and you’re frustrated you didn’t get a chance to talk to the person you’re convinced you’re in love with.
It’s easy to see your teenage years as homework and bullies and early mornings. But it’s important to step back and see them for what they really are: the wildest journey of self-discovery, adventure and experimentation you’ll ever undertake.
You wake up in the morning and are forced to hang out with your best friends for five days of the week. Never again will be surrounded by Jake and Alice and Peter and Jess so frequently and be so familiar with their eating habits and the health of their dogs.
You watch them get their license and suddenly the world seems incomprehensively big. Your first instinct is to drive to McDonalds at a ridiculous hour on a Tuesday night and cruise to the beach on a Saturday morning. You make playlists and sing old school classics and wave at cute drivers you stop beside at the traffic lights. Maybe you fist pump your phone number out the window, iunno. For the first time you truly believe the world is your oyster, and you make grand plans with your friends to explore all of it.
You share pink alcho-pops in you friend’s backyard under the stars on a moonless evening and you giggle about how it makes you feel. It becomes a memorable night where you learn how many it takes to get you well and truly wasted, inevitably resorting to a night on your hands and knees in a bathroom you can’t quite remember the location of.
You watch your friends develop crushes and navigate the avenues and boundaries within romantic relationships – of kissing lips and holding hands and discovering the backs and arms and chests of another. Sometimes you write their text messages and sometimes they write yours. Your phones ‘Photo Album’ is mostly screenshots of conversations.
Your teenage years is the discovery of the lumps and bumps and buying bras to accommodate. It’s the deep voices of your high school brothers that make them sound like men of the world (have they always been this attractive?!). It’s discussions with your girlfriends about periods and body hair and how regularly you shave and whether there’s any point at all.
It’s getting kicked out of Science for lighting something you shouldn’t have on fire, it’s the internal rage that brews because of the lack of justice in the classroom, it’s the fear you feel when the teacher returns the essay you did the night before scribbled with red pen.
It’s the elation you feel when you’ve mastered that maths equation even though you hate maths. It’s turning the final page of your prescribed English text and putting your pen down for the last time in an exam. It’s the side-smile your teacher makes when you misbehave, but you’ve managed to humour them anyway.
Never again will a sprint to the fight in the playground – from top quad to bottom quad – constitute your primary source of exercise and the feint murmur of who hit who and why being the sound track.
Your teenage years are a never-ending supply of inside jokes that make you laugh uncontrollably in the most inappropriate of times (ever tried holding in a laugh mid-exam? That is the definition of pain). They are the times you fight and you cry and discover what true friendship means.
Step back and look at the people around you and the memories that you have because by God, your teenage years are fucking awesome.