Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Do you think the teen years are the hardest?

Looking back, I didn’t know I’d run away with a practical stranger, get married at seventeen, or end up as a homeless street musician. I didn’t know what turn of events would bring me there or help me find myself, because before all that, I was completely lost. It seems everything turned sour at one moment. A day that started with gossip and ended in an exorcism, that one, single day is the main reason I ran far from everything; why I ran to Hawaii.
    I’m not really sure how the rumors started. I couldn’t even tell you who set them in motion. All I know is that they exploded during history class. People talked as if I wasn’t there. I heard them whispering, “Did you hear about Bible Girl?” 
    Eager silence followed before the voices hissed louder. I didn’t want to hear their words and instead of facing my problems, I stared at the chalkboard. It blurred in my vision. The history of England changed to a mushy river as I pretended I wasn’t in the room. I couldn’t believe how callous my classmates could be. Putting my hand by my neck, I calmed my breathing. Their judgment was still there, deliberating over what I’d done. My hot eyes closed and tears split across my cheeks. I blinked, once, twice, but the chalkboard still looked blurry.  
    “And to think, she always talked about Jesus.”
    I saw myself burning in the fires of Hell. I just knew I’d go there because of my poor choices. I’d been a good Christian and then ruined it all, my reputation, my salvation . . . everything.
    I couldn’t swallow. As much as I tried, my throat wouldn’t cooperate. I sat fighting with my own nerves when one of the cutest boys in school bent down next to my desk. I wiped my eyes and glanced away to the right. My hand slid to the side of my face and blocked him from seeing my tears. And then he asked me a question that would haunt me for years.
    I couldn’t breathe. The damn chalkboard looked like it was right next to my face. The ceiling and the walls pulsed closer. The cynical voices grew too loud and I wanted to scream. The cute guy next to me closed one eye and pointed at my face. I focused on his hand and told myself to calm down.
    “I know why you did it,” he said, stroking his chin.
    I wouldn’t let him see me cry. I wouldn’t show those kids my weakness, but I knew I was about to explode. I burst past the jerk, slammed my homework on the teacher’s desk and left.
    It wasn’t that my life was bad. Far from it, really. A bunch of things had just spiraled out of control.

. . . I wanted to talk to you about the teen years.  I really wonder if the those years are the hardest.  Often we're trying to find ourselves as we deal with everything else.  Kids can be mean.  Adults can forget what it's like growing up.  And it's amazing that we make it through.  
    Today I thought about all of this because I encountered a teen who is struggling.  I took extra time to talk with them.  Sometimes just knowing one person cares can make all the difference.  As an adult, I forgot how hard it was being a teenager. 
    Although this example from my memoir Bible Girl: & the Bad Boy is vague in the beginning, I hope it will pull teens in enough to read on for answers--how I made it through.

Click HERE for more info:
    Is a teen in your life struggling?  Do they need your love and attention today?
    Additionally, do you think the teen years are the hardest?  Do you have stories similar to mine?


  1. I struggled so much during my teen years and was very rebellious.....but what I really wanted was for someone to understand me...of course, I was very dramatic! Although those years were difficult, I think what was even harder for me was my own children's teen years. Have difficult teen years doesn't mean you will always be able to help your own kids through them!

    No comfort I know!

  2. I take a pragmatic view. No, the teen years are not the hardest, they just seem that way due to all of the changes (emotional, physical, etc) that teens are going through.

    That being said, if you take a look at it from an objective with taking into account the bigger picture:

    Are *most* (emphasis most) teens:
    - working full time to support themselves?
    - working full time to support others?
    - raising a family (quite possibly including a teen:)
    - heck, even doing their own taxes???
    - etc etc

    It's all about perspective, which is something most teens (myself included during those years) don't have in abundance.

  3. Elisa, my teen years were torture for me. I was so shy and I tried to overcome it by being the comedian, making myself look foolish and the brunt of jokes. To this day, I think that's why I hate silliness. My husband and I work with the youth at our church and often encounter teens going through stuff that has them tied in knots. We try to spend one on one time with them and help them the best that we can. This is a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Being a teenager is a raw experience that we forget when we reach adulthood. It seems like every nerve is exposed and the law of the jungle applies, with the strongest and most popular openly bullying those they see as beneath them. Mind you, teenagers can also be spectacularly annoying.

  5. Yeah it can be quite the pain in the rump, but really all parts of life has their ups, downs and challenges and such, so not sure I'd call them the hardest.

  6. I was a rebel during my teens and I know my parents had a hard time with me. I just hope I won't be having the same experience with my kids when they reach their teens and if ever that happens I hope to have that patience in dealing with them.

  7. Teen years vs. Toddler years...they both have their challenges!

  8. The teen years for me were a tad difficult....please, no one keep wondering why I write humor. Being a recovering geek is difficult. BUT...I will say that the toddler years over here are doing their best to kill me, so I'd say it's a toss up.

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  10. Your post got me wondering and I can't say my teen years were the hardest - all ages have their ups and downs and I think, as you say 'Sometimes just knowing one person cares can make all the difference.' - applies to everyone ...

  11. Dear Elisa, just like several of those who commented, I must say that my teen years weren't the hardest for me. I had a bad case of acne that kept me from dating, but I had friends and none of them seemed to ostracize me because I got good grades. Every stage of life has its ups and downs as several have commented. I think for me the hardest years were from about 1966 when I started hallucinating and 1976 when I finally went on medication so that those people in my head would stop their yammering. Peace.

  12. My teen years sucked shit. That's the truth. However, my life before my teen years also sucked shit. It's strange, though, that people who knew me in high school and find me on Facebook tell me they remember how nice I was to everyone and how funny I was. I didn't feel nice or funny at all. I think my parents and I could have used some breaks from each other. I'm not trying to help any teens at the moment (teaching high school kids who threatened me kinda took away my confidence), but I've certainly tried to help teens in the past, especially the two I raised who are now well past those years and seem to be pretty happy. I'm sorry you had such a terrible experience.

    Janie XOXO

  13. Yes, teen years are the hardest. I know of no one that escaped them untarnished from some form of mental anxiety.

  14. My teen & preteen years were very difficult for me. I was very shy, not very pretty & never part of the in-group. Thank heaven I met Bud when I was 15. He turned my life around.

  15. Elisa... I had a rough time being a teenager myself. However I can't tell you what was worse... going through the horrible time I went through in high school or my divorce back in the 90s... both very dark times in my life... But one thing is for sure... when I have seen a troubled teen... YOU BET I REACHED OUT TO THEM!! I wish someone would have reached out to me then... but that's ok... Because I am there for someone else. Blessings to you and yours.

  16. The teen years were definitely somewhat hard for me. I was the shy girl, the quiet girl who blended into the background and was pretty much isolated by my peers when in reality, I wanted to know that they accepted me for the Disney-loving, rap-hating, non-brand-wearing girl I was. At the beginning of my teen years, my mom had a severe stroke, so she wasn't always able to be there for me as she recovered. Even though I didn't always open up to them, I'm just glad I had my two best friends to get me through for the most part. Although at one point the three of us were estranged so I was a bit alone. But I still survived! Granted it was to struggle socially and somewhat academically in college, but I did it!

  17. It really seems like all the commenters had their problems with the teen years, some more, some less. I had my share as well, though I don't think they were as dramatic as the ones of some of the other commenters. I think the teen years can be very challenging because teens still don't have all the tools necessary to deal with the problems that arise; tools that we develop as we become adults. Great post Elisa :)

  18. Well yeah...the teen years are some of the hardest. Feeling alone, like no one gets you.fitting in, figuring yourself out...there isn't enough money in the world that would make me relive those days

  19. I think in many cases Jr. High establishes how the teen years go. Not every time but most times. Kids are even more cruel there than in High school.

  20. Although I was never in the "in" crowd, I don't think my teen years were all that bad. Our daughter however had a really hard time in her teens. I'm really glad that's all behind us now.

  21. It's funny because when I was actually IN my teens, I didn't think they were hard. But in retrospect, I do. Not terrible hard, just hard in a way that I would never want to relive them. Since I've graduated high school I've had countless dreams that I'm thrust back into it all. I keep telling people I don't belong there but no one listens to me!

  22. Your comments got me thinking even harder about this. I guess the teen years were so terrible for me because before turning nineteen I nearly starved as a homeless street musician; my dad got colon cancer; I became pregnant and had to grow up fast after having the Scribe when I was eighteen; then at nineteen I had another baby and he died a short time later. I hope another decade in my lifetime will never hold so many hard things for me to go through. I honestly look back and think, "Wow, it's amazing we all survived that. My poor parents."

    So . . . maybe it's more about experiences and less about age.