Growing up is a pain in the ass. Especially for us teenagers who think we’re fucking invincible. Parents coddle us, teachers warn us, and even some older friends try to throw in their two cents to put us on the right track. And it’s like, why the hell do you think your “adult” wisdom from the dinosaur age can in anyway help me lead my life? Who the hell are you to tell me that it’s not pretty to poke a bunch of holes into my face or that it’s not productive to do homework while blasting Bullet for My Valentine? Like, please just let me lock myself up in my room and do whatever the fuck I want to ruin my future.
This kind of sublime attitude is exactly why we fail to see gigantic neon rocks in our paths and fall flat on our faces so many goddamn times in those six tumultuous years of teenage-hood. Except for a few individuals blessed with the ability to see and listen, most of us have to go through bizarre phases with the most embarrassing aftermath to learn the most basic lessons. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Regrettable phases make remarkable stories. Here are four of my (least) favorite ones:
1. The Reality TV Show Phase
Once upon a time, a girl kept a diary to keep track of the birthdays of her favorite reality TV stars so she could wish them a happy name day in her nightly prayers.
I really do wish I could tell you that was a joke. But alas, the birthdays and zodiac signs of past Survivor participants and ANTM winners are still scribbled inside the yellowing pages of a small pink notebook somewhere in the world. Their stories moved her, their defeats grieved her, their triumphs inspired her. The girl found strength and motivation not in the heroic stories of MLK and Gandhi but in the upbringings of American Idol competitors.
For your own good, I will not disclose the date this unfortunate phase ended.
2. The Nicholas Sparks Phase
Just thinking about this era of my life makes me cringe. Between freshmen and junior year, I’ve read 5 Nicholas Sparks books and 7 movie adaptations. I tried to act like his gentle heroines. I shaped my crushes on his chivalrous, masculine heroes. I modeled my writing after his for a longer period than I want to admit. Hell, I even changed my last name on Facebook to “Sparks” for four months.
In my defense, I was a desperate, horny SINGLE teenage girl for the majority of high school. Do pity me a little please.
3. The Erotica Phase
I can remember the exact moment this dreadful chapter of my life began. It was in Spanish class, junior year. I had just handed in my test and was about to take a long-awaited nap when Dora, who sat right behind me, poked me in the shoulder and “sneakily” dropped a piece of folded paper onto my desk (seriously, I still have no idea how Señora Hansen never caught that). Anyway, I unfolded the note and read: “Let’s write an erotica together. I’ll start: TOP [a Korean pop/Kpop star] walks into a night club with a grin on his face.” Being the idiot I was, I ditched my nap and added my sentence to the “erotica” before “sneakily” passing the note back to Dora. So it continued. For almost two fucking years. Notebook after notebook of steamy, kinky, freaky, DISTURBING stories about not just Kpop stars but also people we know. And it’s the latter that really makes this whole phase an experience I’d rather not remember. We weren’t the most low-key people, so our stories spread like wildfire, and every time I walked into a new class at least a few people would give me the creeped-out stare. By the time I retired from this whole mess, half of our class must have known about all that weird shit we wrote. That was really not a good reputation to have. And more than a year after I graduated, a lot of people still remember me for those stories I wrote rather than the person I am. I don’t regret writing those stories; I just wish I hadn’t let them become so public.
That slip of paper is long gone, but its legacy remains. All too painfully.
4. The Ear-Abusing Phase
This phase is less painful psychologically, but substantially more painful physically. I don’t know if this is exactly what happened, but I must have been eating in some hipster restaurant when I saw a cute waiter with gigantic holes in his ears. For some dumb ass reason, I decided that those holes are fucking awesome and that I wanted some for myself. So a few days later at school, I tell Dora that for Christmas I wanted a bunch of plugs and gauges from Hot Topic, even though my parents and a bunch of my friends were fervently against it.
This whole plugs&gauges phase is honestly kind of cathartic. Putting in plugs is a painful, step by step process. You start off with the thinner plugs, then ever few days change to wider ones to enlarge the holes in your ears. The bigger the plugs get, the more painful it becomes. Dora bought me plugs up to size 00 (10mm in width), and I was determined to put them in. But the thing is, about half way through I realized that those holes were actually not awesome at all. They weren’t even pretty. And they smelled like shit. But I couldn’t stop after already going so far. I have to get to the widest one otherwise all this PAIN would have been for nothing. And I supposed I just didn’t want to admit that my friends, my parents had actually been right.
I did get to the last one, and now my ears will always be adorned with two small crooked holes that will never close up. Typical teenage stubbornness screwing everything up.
All that happened in the last seven, eight years of my life. In just over half a year I’ll no longer be a teenager. Sure, I do regret many things I’ve done, but it has also been kind of fun. I’ll miss being a teenager, and making the reckless mistakes I’ve made.