Welcome, dear friend, to adolescence. Population: you, and a billion other zitty, hormonal folks who seem to have lost the hems of their skirts. It is quite a journey, one that last year’s school slogan told us to approach in the spirit of “Carpe Diem.” It will be filled with obscene amounts of homework, judgmental friends, and absolutely no time for sleep. You are stuck here for seven years of your life, so you might as well enjoy it. After all, when else will you be this stressed and confused? Maybe when you get Alzheimer’s, but that is a different story all together.
A rocky teenagehood is something to embrace, but below I have compiled a survival guide for teens, just in case your 14th year isn’t nearly as joyous as it should be.
1) You’ve managed to hide behind the jocks in history class for a solid two months. But now — oh, no! — the teacher makes direct eye contact with you. You feel the storm gathering. “Samantha,” he says, “can you tell me the causes of World War II?” Wait a second — you know this one! It was in last night’s reading. You open your mouth to speak.
It may seem wise to rattle off the answer and impress all your friends, but here is the nitty gritty: if a teacher calls on you for an answer, you must never EVER talk for more than ten seconds. That, in this day and age, is what we call social suicide. It shows that you are not only interested, but also — gasp! — knowledgeable. Learning and fun go as nicely together as a pickle & jam sandwich. Which, unless you are me and will eat anything on bread, you will find utterly disgusting. In addition to those ten seconds of mumbling, you must be sure to make every answer an approximation. Adolf Hitler didn’t invade Poland; he like, kinda took over some European country? Yes, up-talking is also a must. Whip up that answer and your peers will consider you sufficiently stupid enough to be invited to next weekend’s party.
2) Excuse me. I should go edit that last point, because it is absolutely forbidden to call anyone in your age group your peers! If you do, people will look at you like you’re from the planet Zork. And Zork has no Xbox, so it’s a sad, sad place. “Peers” is code for no friends. To help you with this, I have conjured up a little rhyme: peers will bring you tears. (That took me an hour to write. I think I need a nap.)
3) If you took my earlier advice, and you are the lucky befriended sort, chances are you will be invited to some football games. No matter how tempted you are to stay home and eat cookie dough, you must go to these games. Yes, that means paying loads of money to watch 200 pounds of testosterone fling themselves at each other. In any other circumstance, this would be called a bar fight. But the secret here is, you cannot actually watch the game. You have shelled out ten dollars to hang out with your friends and catch up on gossip. Those bleachers that smell like overcooked French fries are the magical place where you finally find out that so-and-so is sleeping with what’s-his-face. Or so they say. In reality they’ve awkwardly held hands at a movie and were too scared to do anything. At this game, glance at the football players and quickly look away so your friends know you are not ignoring them. Cheer when the cheerleaders sound extra peppy and start throwing shiny things into the air.
4) There’s something about curls that are … savage. It might indicate a personality that doesn’t come from a Barbie commercial. It could bring up ethnicity issues. What’s worse, if you keep your hair curly, you might just be able to get spotted in a crowd. Therefore, I bring up my fourth point: you must make your hair look like it’s been steamrolled over your eyes. Sacrifice that extra hour of sleep to slam two pieces of metal over your hair. And if it’s not already blond, bring out the bleach and relish that chemical smell while you feel like your head has been set on fire. Hey girlfriend, it’s “no pain, no gain,” right? Except don’t tell anybody, not even your BFF Jill, that you’ve gone through pain to look like Lindsay Lohan post-redhead days. No, that straw that’s coming out of your scalp is perfectly natural. If you must, rub some concealer onto the bags under your eyes to hide that you’ve been getting up at 5:00 am every morning to burn your head.
So you’re tired. Getting up to plan those football games and hair-doing can be exhausting. Plus, every teacher thinks his class is the only one on your schedule so you’ve just done five hours of homework and pretended to blow it off. Advice? Complain about it! And not just the type of complaint that might come off as a minor annoyance. You can really dive deep into this pity. You have to say that you can’t deal with the confusion, that those hours of homework are making you not able to find yourself. “Where’s Lisa? Is she holed up in her room again?” Dad asks. Your answer? “How am I supposed to know, I can’t even find myself these days.” Don’t skimp on the loathing of, well, everything. This is the only socially acceptable time to announce your insecurities as though they were as blatant as today’s weather. Adults don’t have this luxury. They have to talk about the actual weather. Oh, and politics. The politics of high school are really how you’re dealing with that new zit that has craters fit for the moon. So go ahead, bemoan the emotional pressure that is landing with a resounding thump on your shoulders. Get all the whining out of your system before you’re an insecure twenty-year-old and just have to shut up. You’ll regret not having been a pain-in-the-butt teenager if you don’t. Besides, it’s a bonding experience with your peers.