There’s nothing quite like being a teenager, Mother thought as she watched Daughter walk into the school dance, trying her very best to make her hips wiggle back and forth just the right way.
Mother remembered it very well, and she was intelligent enough to know that things never really change all that much when it comes to the thought process of highschoolers.
She remembered the overwhelming anxiety in the face of social interaction, how you never really knew if anyone genuinely liked you or was just out further their own popularity. She remembered how every tiny misstep would feel like stepping on a land mine – would anyone notice what you’d done wrong and call you out on it? What if you wore the wrong thing, or liked the wrong thing, or said the wrong thing? She remembered the overwhelming pressure to do everything exactly right, to impress everyone and hold tight to any minuscule semblance of acceptance. She remembered that it seemed like every time you let your guard down and allowed yourself to have some fun, something horrible would happen and it would feel like the absolute end of the world. You would never be able to go on. You may as well just end it all right now.
And the thing was, from this side of the mirror Mother knew for certain that it all got better. Eventually such childish things were pushed to the back of your mind. Eventually you stopped caring so much about what everyone thought of you and began to reserve your concern for the actual important people in your life. Eventually high school began to feel like a faded memory, recalled as something much better than it had ever been.
But in the time, in the moment…oh, there was nothing quite like being a teenager and truly, truly believing that your entire existence hinged on the whims of your pimply-faced peers.
“Keep your head up, hon,” Mother whispered to herself as Daughter hip-wiggled her way through the school gym’s doors. “It only feels like the end of the world for a little while.”
One thought on ““Keep Your Head Up””
How easily we adults can forget the “life and death” struggles of high school.