Why I’m Going to Miss my Messy Teenage Self

I will never be a teenager again. I just realized this recently. I turned 21 a couple months ago and somehow it has dawned on me. My childhood days are gone, but so are my teenage ones.

I remember I was 14, crying my eyes out in my room. I think it was my birthday, or close to it. I was frustrated about something, and that’s why I started crying, but that wasn’t the reason I started bawling. I was crying my eyes out because I genuinely didn’t want to grow up. Cliche, I know. I was a very cliche child, but I wasn’t stupid either. I thought about the real things very early on. And I was sentimental (and still am) about everything that happens to me. Change terrifies me and always has. And that’s the biggest part of growing up, isn’t it? When I was in my room crying, I was sad I wasn’t going to be a kid again. Being a kid felt so much easier than being a teenager. Now, I’m becoming an adult and I’m looking back at my teenage years, for the first time, with longing.

I think the reason this has all dawned on me, is that I’ve weirdly had my shit together in the last couple months. Not completely, obviously. But I’ve had a good amount of solid days since I turned 21 where I really have championed this adulting thing. I try and get up at a decent hour, take care of chores around the house, go to the bank, applied for a job, even called to make a doctor’s appointment! I remember my 14 year old self crying in my room was worried a or doing these very things. And here I am, doing okay.

The scariest thing about being an adult, is that you can’t make too many mistakes. There’s too much at stake, and too much time to lose. At least it feels that way. Adulthood is when you begin to be aware of the ticking clock, when you start realizing you need to literally plan out your life, and this time it’s all up to you. It’s daunting — and it’s not something you’re always forced to think about in your early teenage years. So i feel proud, that I’m slowly getting the hang of this. However, this is making me realize, that I’m really growing up for real this time.

I’m going to miss being a messy teenage girl. I’m ready to admit this because I think it’s true. I think being a messy teenage girl is one of the most beautiful things a person can be. It’s a time for so many new, raw experiences. It’s a time when we are allowed to mess up and learn through trial and error without consequence.

It’s funny because at the time, a lot of us don’t realize it. Because it feels like it’s the most confusing, unfair time in our lives. And for a while after I reached a certain age, I tried to block all my teenage years out. “I wasn’t my true self” I thought. I wasn’t confident enough. I didn’t date the right boys. I didn’t participate in enough things. I made the wrong friends. I didn’t go out enough. I didn’t wear the best clothes. I could’ve done better on those fucking ACT’s.

But I realized recently, there’s no need to block that out. There’s no right way to be a teenager. And I look back, at that 14, 15, 16, 17 year old versions of myself and I wish I could go back and soothe her. I wish I could tell her to stop worrying about the future. I wish I could go back and tell her to love herself a little bit more. I wish I could back and tell her that it’s going to be okay. And better yet, she is doing okay, she is doing great.

When I was teenager, I remember looking in the mirror and thinking; wow I can’t wait to grow up and be a beautiful, grown, woman who has everything together. Now I think, wow what an awful expectation to put on my older self. There’s never going to be a time in our lives when we have everything perfectly together. And having the pressure on me, from myself and the world was a lot to handle back then.

Our teenage years are confusing and uncertain, but that’s what makes them so great. I filtered out all the mundane, seemingly bad moments of that part of my life, that I forgot to reminisce on the important moments. I forgot to take time to remember those wonderful memories and irreplaceable “firsts”. Things like my first kiss in a dark movie theatre. Or going to the pool on hot days just to gossip with friends and show off my first two piece. Those precious moments I had with good books, all on my own. Appreciating a teacher’s kind words and calming looks. Getting a B+ on a math test I thought I was going to fail. Dancing at homecoming like a fool and feeling like a goddess at Prom. Being able to finally admit to myself that my ex was an asshole and that I deserve something better. Going to football games and later avoiding them. Realizing my passions through drama club and English classes. Making mistakes and learning from them. All the ups and downs as I waited longingly for the big 1–8. And honestly, what could better prepare me for the emotional hardships of adulthood, than being a teenager?

I think there will always be a part of that in me. We try to push it away and forget. No, we think. That was my temporary, messy, unfinished self. I was just a teen. I had so much to learn. I wasn’t fully myself. It was just a phase, a small part of my life. Why did I tell myself these things? I should be embracing my messy, unfinished self and how much I learned. Just because it was our unfinished selves, doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful. And it certainly doesn’t mean a part of that isn’t with us today.