• Lucia Joyce

Teenage Vibes

Does anyone else feel like a grounded teenager these days?

Even the moms and dads of teenagers are feeling a bit unjustly punished by the state of the world right now.

We can't go out and play/work freely. We're confined to long hours on our phones with the friends we miss the most. We constantly wrestle with a desire to rebel against our current flawed systems. We feel trapped, or bored, or frustrated, or helpless. Or all of the above.

We miss socializing. We miss our freedom.

We miss just hanging around at the mall...

Shane and I have been tossing the couch cushions on the living room floor and sleeping on the pull out bed in front of the TV. We realized in a Facetime tour of the apartment with my family last night that we've been avoiding most of our chores, in favor of movie nights, TikTok feeds, and goofing around. Today we met with our friend Simon to view a potential new living situation, and caught up afterward, loitering outside a 7-Eleven for a bit.

Ah, teen life.

Occasionally I argue with Shane like a bratty 16-year-old. He never comes down to that level to engage with me, he just smiles and waits for me to come back to my (adult) self.

I feel a real sense of camaraderie with my friends and their families all over the globe. We're all dealing with the stress of enclosed spaces, altered schedules, and being around each other 24/7. I pored through some Trey Kennedy sketch videos for entertainment, and laughed the hardest at: "Every Mom In America Right Now"

I feel for both of these characters! I feel like they're both kind of acting like inconvenienced teens, ironically. That's the real adult struggle, I discovered in my 20's. There's no 'acting like a teenage jerk' switch you can flip off when you leave high school. Adolescence is a heavy, awkward coat we have to learn to shed in our own way.

My adolescent years held my least favorite memories once I left high school: the awkwardness of all my first mistakes; the intensity of my first more complex emotions; the blind navigation of secrets, sexuality, bullying, social structure--all leading up to my first major life decisions, which I felt less than ready for. The combination of institutional/social rules combined with the physical body changes was rough, to say the least, but I've learned since then that no teenage kid really emerges from high school unscathed.

Be gentle. It was a weird time.

Our teenage years aren't meant to be easy. They are the crucial transition period between parental influence and independent decision-making. Between 13 and 19, we figure out what our learning style is, what our true interests are, what we like/dislike about the family ways, and what we value most. If we're paying attention, we receive a lot of insights into what we want out of life and how to find support to follow our desired path.

I remember feeling rushed when college started. I spent more time trying to figure out what other people desired for me than what I wanted to do and why. I depended too much on the structure of school and work and tried to skate by with old habits and a lackluster belief in myself. There was so much more for me to discover, and plunging into programs and prospects based on what would satisfy the people around me made absolutely zero sense. A lesson I continue to learn.

Those awkward feelings and lessons are coming up for me again, in the spring of 2020 and this global pandemic with far reaching consequences. I feel helpless in the presence of political and online bullying. I can't help but long for the freedom to work and play and goof off in public. I miss my creative crew. I miss making travel plans and taking dance class. I also feel the pressure of should's: am I doing enough for my well being, my family, and the people out there who are suffering? Should I be laying the groundwork for some big changes once the COVID-19 spread wanes? (A question that both excites and intimidates). Am I ready for any of the decisions I'm making during this time? (Probably not!)

Now that I've met her head-on, I've decided the only viable solution left is: release the judgment of teenage Loosh. Treat this homebound time of rebellion and reflection as necessary growth, however awkward and difficult. Allow the self-wrestling and the questioning of our current systems. Move towards my own empowerment and self acceptance. Practice kindness, patience, and empathy--things we need to anchor teens and adults alike. Let the process of growing out of old habits be imperfect, and have faith in the decisions that float to the surface--enough faith to take action, however small.

Who else out here talks to their teenage selves?

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