If you’re old enough, you may remember the Frank Sinatra song, It Was A Very Good Year. I only know it because my dad was a huge Sinatra fan. He used to play his music in the car on 8-track all the time. I remember this was one of the few crooner songs I didn’t mind him playing. The melancholy melody moved me.
Side note: I’m a rocker, so my dad and I clashed when it came to music.
I mention this line of the song, because I’ve been thinking about what it was like to be a teenager. Do you remember? Were you insecure or secure? Were you a rebel? How did you feel inside? Were you confident or unsure? Scared or brave? Naïve or street smart? Happy or lonely?
Those are rhetorical questions to get to another point.
I was a good teen. So much so that I was labeled the “goody-goody” amongst peers and friends. I didn’t mind, because no one was mean to me about it. In fact, they seemed to respect it and teased me in a friendly way.
I was proud of myself for staying away from trouble, but I was insecure. I always worried that I’d lose my friends. And, sometimes I did. I also felt very misunderstood. On occasion, when I thought I was doing good by telling the truth, people would take it the wrong way. I’d be hurt and upset, because I didn’t mean what they thought I meant. It was an awful feeling which kept me lamenting and hiding in my room for days, sometimes weeks.
I also didn’t have a firm grasp on who I was yet, and it was difficult when others would tell me who they thought I was. It was very confusing.
If we had social media back then, where anything I did could be spread everywhere, to people I don’t even know, I may have been in deep emotional trouble. What if I had been on a school field trip where an incident occurred, and we students had nothing but good intention? What if social media twisted it into a lie and made monsters of us?
I’d have been devastated.
My mind and heart would’ve collapsed from being wildly misunderstood. I’d wonder, do they see something in me I missed? Am I that unlovable? I’d probably need some kind of intervention from a therapist or medication to snap me out of it. I’ve never in my life contemplated suicide, but it might’ve crossed my mind if even television media told the world I was some kind of brute.
Whether they realize it or not, teenage girls and boys grapple with their identities. I remember that time of my life clearly. When I was misunderstood, the world felt like it was closing in on me. I blamed myself.
It’s confusing enough to be a teenager, and my heart breaks when I see any of them being labeled something ugly from people who never even met them.
Good thing I was born in a different era. I wonder how this mass scale judgement will effect the futures of those who are teenagers today.