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There's a lot of talk about the "teenage mind." How do they think? What do they feel? Why are they so hard to understand? Hundreds of hours of research have been spent on the facets of the adolescent brain. Countless numbers of surveys, thousands of teens interviewed and poked and prodded and wrung out until no more scientific information drips out from our scrawny bodies. Being a 15-year-old girl, I'm a part of the statistics; I'm included in the crowd under the microscope. Although I am an atypical teen in two very important ways (which I will discuss later), I can still provide my humble answer to this question: As teenagers, our minds are not any different from anyone else.
We are human beings.
We get hungry, we get tired, we get angry. We love, we fight, we say harsh and irrational things when we lose control of our tempers. We just want to be treated as equals, as adults, but everyone treats us like children. I've been told that being a teenager is like being in the metaphorical sophomore year of life – you're old enough to be responsible for everything, yet you're too young for people to take you seriously. And these words resonate in my mind like a shriek in an empty tunnel. Because they are true. Teenagers are not different because of who we are. We are different because people treat us like we are. We are not a different species. If anything, we are the opposite of that. We just want to be talked to like the next guy. We just want to go through one day without being told, "you're too young to understand," or "you'll learn when you're older," or "you're just a kid." There's nothing more to it than that. Imagine living in a world where one moment, someone is cooing at you and condescendingly nodding at every word you try to say, even if you know it goes into one ear and exits the other, and then a few minutes later, you get yelled at to take responsibility of your actions, “you're not six years old anymore, act like your age.” It would confuse and anger anyone, not just us.
And thus begins the talk about independence. Being independent feels good, simply for the reason that it feels like we're adults. We're equals, we can be trusted to do adult things without being guided through. It also makes me (I've switched out of plural because I feel that this may not apply to everyone) feel like I'm trusted. And contrary to popular belief, I'm not seeking to break that trust. I'm not going to go out of my way to do things I could with my parents not around, because if anything, that is a childish thought and that is exactly what I want to avoid: being a kid. I want to prove myself trustworthy and show my parents that they made the right decision in allowing me to go out with my friends, or stay after school for a little longer than I usually do, or stay at home alone with no one to keep a careful eye on my every action.
Now, I have two more points to address.
First, I was told that I've been brazenly accused of only wanting to stay at home because I have a boyfriend and I want to fool my family into letting me stay alone for this reason. And I can say this is simply not true.
Being the eldest child, I have a lot to live up to, especially when it comes to athletics. I have a mother who was an internationally renowned swimmer, who signed autographs as she disembarked the plane in airports. I have a father who was a varsity swimmer, soccer player, and won city cycling championships against adults – as a teenager. But this athletic background also means that I have an advantage. I live a healthy lifestyle because that's all my parents have known, ever since they were children. I get exposed to all sorts of sports: swimming, running, cycling, and of course, skiing. These four are sports that I can partake in with my family. I swim with my sister and mother, I bike and run with my father (hence his nickname "cyclist"), and I ski with my entire family.
However, if someone were to ask me what my all-time favorite sport is, I would have to say volleyball. I began to play volleyball in seventh grade and it's currently my biggest passion (possibly only second to music). I was the captain of my school's volleyball team this year and we were the first-ranked team in our entire league. There's no better thrill to me than taking two steps, making an explosive jump, and slamming the ball across the court.
Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about skiing. It's not that I dislike it – of course it's fun. It's nice to be able to skim across the top of the fresh, fluffy powder. But it doesn't provide the same thrill as volleyball does. And that's probably why I slowly fell out of love with it. As time passed by, I missed more and more ski trips because of homework and tests and other various reasons, and I found that I didn't really long for the early morning car trips, the 20 minute lift lines, the icy patches that I know I'd encounter (east coast skiing, represent!).
I know I may sound cynical and ungrateful, but I don't want to be that at all. In fact, I hate it when I'm called ungrateful. I'm not taking it for granted, how lucky I am to have a beautiful mountain just two hours from my front door. I realize people would kill to have the same opportunities as I get, going to Utah and experiencing some of the best snow in the world. But at the same time, it's hard to appreciate that when I can't enjoy it as much as I used to. It's like being given $300 and not having a clue about what to do with it. (Yes, this is a ridiculous example, but it's the best analogy I could think of.) This is the sole reason I asked to stay at home. Not because I want to be a rebel and wreck the house when my parents are gone, not because I want to bring a boy over, but just simply because I don't quite enjoy skiing anymore. Additionally, it puts a lot of weight on my shoulders that my parents are spending crazy amounts of money on lift tickets and airplane tickets just to bring me across the country and I won't even be able to enjoy it to the worth of that money.
My second point: if this was any other week, any at all through this entire winter, I'd feel much better about it. But this week is special. This year, my spring break has conveniently landed right on top of my best friend's birthday. When she found out, she excitedly came to me. "Ms. Cyclist!" she cried out my name from across the hallway. We met halfway. "My birthday's in spring break this year," she said breathlessly. "We can celebrate for the whole day!" Needless to say, my heart dropped. "I'm leaving for Utah the Friday before..." I said softly. The excited glow in her eyes quickly dulled and my heart shattered. "But I can't celebrate without you," she mumbled. I sighed. "I know."
My best friend in the entire world was sad because of me. What kind of friend was I? I had to find a way to fix things. So I turned to my parents. This is one of the aforementioned ways I'm an atypical teenager: unlike a lot of my friends, I can go to my parents about anything and speak my mind because I know they're reasonable people. I know I'm not going to be shut down the moment I open my mouth, because my parents are willing to listen. I actually think this may be one of the reasons why I am who I am – because my parents listen to me and support me and even if they think I'm wrong (and even when I know I'm wrong), they will give me a chance to open up to them. I went to my mom first. In the back of my mind, I knew it was going to be nearly impossible to get what I wanted. But it was worth a try.
I'm not like other 15 year olds in one more way. I don't have a Facebook. This is because of a number of reasons, including the fact that neither of my parents have it and also because I admittedly enjoy being different. (I'm sometimes referred to as "that girl who doesn't have Facebook" at school.) I don't have the opportunity to talk to my friends and explore social media as much as others do. So every moment I spend outside of school with my friends is golden, especially friends who don't go to the same high school as me. Being able to talk to my friends is so important because as other teenagers, they're the only other people who understand the way I think and the way I feel. That's what makes them my friends: they can relate to me, not just in my interests but my struggles.
I guess my objective in this whole thing is to put things in perspective.
No, it would not be a good idea to install security cameras in my home to make sure I'm doing what I should be, because being trusted would drive me more to do the right thing. No, I don't have a secret boy who I would spend time with when my family's gone, because that would mean lying to my parents. And my morals and respect for my parents – and respect for myself – are too high for that. Lastly: no, not all teenagers think like this. Many of you are probably right. I can really only speak for myself. I'm just one out of a million; all I want is for my voice to be heard. After all, I'm just a cyclist's daughter living in my own little world.
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- I asked her if she will stop skiing completley and she does not know.
- We invited a few friends to come to Utah with us. They are asking their parents.
- She will be reading all your responses.
Thanks for reading.