I don’t know who you are or what you do but I’m sure we have at least one thing in common – being a teenager. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been through, going through or will go through it, what matters is that once in our lives we’ve been that young
Being a teenager is one heck of a ride. They don’t call it the “awkward years” for nothing. It is a period full of change. There’s, of course, the body changes all courtesy of your overly active pituitary gland and the hormones it stimulates into release. Then there’s the role changes, you know, bigger shoes to fill, higher expectations to reach, being more responsible, stuff like that. It should be a training ground for when you become an adult yourself but more often than not it turns out to be them, the “grown-ups”, expecting you to act more maturely while they treat (and, hell, still look at you) like a kid. It is beyond annoying.
But body and role changes aside, I think the hardest part of being a teen is defining yourself.
It’s just so hard to be who you want to be when you have so many people around telling you who you should be. Heck, you can’t even figure out what it is you want with all their blabbering.
I know, the search for one’s identity is one search that never ceases. With each day we live, we learn more and more about ourselves – things we didn’t know we like, things we thought we couldn’t do, the list goes on. But I think, and I hope you wouldn’t argue with me on this, that the highest point of that search is during the teenage years.
And that’s exactly what Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens is about. The novel revolves around teen beauty queens whose plane crashed on a supposedly deserted island. They are forced to choose which to put first, preparing for the pagent or fighting for their survival. Of course, there’s more to the story than the summary I just wrote but, as sort of a really short review, the book was smart, witty, funny and sarcastic with a very generous sprinkling of empowering thoughts.
Speaking of thoughts, since I can’t tell you how to search for your own identity, I have picked five quotes from the book, excerpts which might inspire and help you keep going through your search. Well, alright, maybe it won’t help you with the search but whatever, who cares?! At the very least, I think you’ll be able to identify with these chosen lines from the novel’s protagonists. I did. So, yeah, here we go.
“Why do girls always feel like they have to apologize for giving an opinion or taking up space in the world? Have you ever noticed that? You go on websites and some girl leaves a post and if it’s longer than three sentences or she’s expressing her thoughts about some topic, she usually ends with, ‘Sorry for the rant’ or ‘That may be dumb, but that’s what I think.’” -Nicole
Everyone has an opinion and, so it goes, everyone also has the right to express that opinion. If you have something to say, say it. Some may agree with you, others won’t. That’s their opinion of your opinion and it is up to you how you’ll react to it – take it or ignore it. But I don’t believe in saying sorry for giving the world your two cent’s worth. Again, it is your right to say your piece on things.
Here’s the catch, though. All rights are not absolute thus we must exercise them with fairness in mind. We can all have our own opinions, we may express them but we must make sure that we do it the right way. Respect is key here.
“Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one’s watching them so they can be who they really are.” – Mary Lou
This quote does not only apply to girls but to boys as well. It’s just so hard to be yourself when you’re surrounded by so many people telling you who you should be, what you should do. Add that to the pressures the society and media put upon all of us. It’s almost suffocating.
But here’s what I’ve learned, sometimes you have to fight for the right to be the person you have to be. It takes courage, yes, but it also takes some self-awareness and a whole lot of love for one’s self.
“I don’t know about you but if I’m gonna be chained to a rock by the gods, I’d rather go out as the person who brought fire back from the mountain than as a pure princess who didn’t even have the sense to say to everyone, ‘Oh hell no, you are not sacrificing me to a sea monster.’ “- Mary Lou
This is my personal mantra. Well, at least close to it.
I’m used to winning. Hell! I love winning. I mean, who doesn’t? But sometimes things don’t go our way. Some fights we win, some we lose. I know it’s just so easy to throw your hands up and quit when things go shit side up. But would you rather lose and go out that way? Wouldn’t it be nicer to try and lose than not try at all? Think about it.
“I’ve learned that it takes a village to build a catapult, which is not a city in Mexico, and that uterus is not a dirty word or the name of a planet. I’ve learned that if a guy pretending to be a pirate tells you he’s nothing but trouble, he’s probably right. So you should find somebody else ‘cause there are some really cool guys – and girls – out there. I’ve learned that you can use an old evening gown to catch rainwater and that grubs taste a lot like chicken. I’ve learned how to build a good, strong hut and accesorize it just right. I’ve learned that feminism is for everybody and there’s nothing wrong with taking up space in the world, even if you have to fight for it a little bit, and that if you don’t feel like smiling or waving, that’s okay. You don’t have to, and you don’t have to say sorry. Mostly, I’ve learned that I don’t really care if you like these answers or not, because they’re the best, most honest ones I’ve got, and I just don’t feel like I can cheat myself enough to give you what you want me to say. No offense.” – Tiara
Phew! That was a long one but it’s pretty much self-explanatory so I won’t go babbling about it and you can’t really do anything about that because that’s what I want.
“I love myself. They make it so hard for us to love ourselves.” -Taylor
This I could relate to so much. I have a lot of insecurities when I was a teen, especially when I was in high school. Don’t get me wrong, of course I still I have some until now; it’s just that it has significantly lessened probably because I have found that many of my insecurities as a teen were baseless and/or I have learned to appreciate myself more.
I think that’s it, appreciate yourself more.
Some people can get to you; make you feel bad about yourself. That’s how it was for me then and it dragged me down. I don’t know when it happened but I somehow realized that if I won’t start appreciating myself, no one else will.
But yeah, those people who only tell you what’s wrong with you, they really suck. It may be hard but just ignore them. Don’t let them take over your life, you have a beautiful one and you must live it.
So there, I think that pretty much does it. It may not be much but those are my thoughts. As for my own search for identity, well, it changes every day but I think I know myself more now than I did yesterday and the days before that. Our search for identity may never end, yes, but whatever it is that we discover about ourselves we must learn to either understand and appreciate, change if it needs changing. We only get one us to love after all.