"Sweet 16"

An Essay By Beatrice // 10/7/2000

My grandmother said, "Sweet 16". I’m not so sure. I’m not so sure I want to be 16, that I want to be more independent, want to be what everyone says being a teenager means. "Okay," you say, "she’s just one of those weird, immature home schoolers." Am I really different from everyone else? Nobody else really played as a child plays? Nobody else really sobbed as a child sobs? Nobody else found answers to everything from their parents, as children do? Part of me just longs to go back to all that. To be dependent again, and unconscious of the world. Surely I’m not the only person who feels that way.
Our culture is so forceful. It tells you that being a teenager is going to be really fun, exciting, and cool. Is it ? So far for me it’s been sort of "bumpy". I’m doing all this extra studying, which I need and want to do, for high school (at home), but I’m finding it hard to balance myself between my studies and my family life. It’s so hard to say, "No I have to study," and I don’t want to, but on the other hand I have to keep up with my Internet classes and all. How do I do it? Then all of a sudden there’s a fork in the road of my friendships. "Which way is she going to go?" "Will we still be together in our thoughts and ideas?" Finally I’m finding that I’m having to redefine who I am. Do you know what I mean? I’m suddenly finding myself in circumstances where I have to say, "This is the way I am." It’s tough! Who dares to say, "Sweet 16"! (Whoops, it’s my grandma!) 
One of the hardest places to "stick out my chin" and say "this is me," is before and after my confirmation class. That’s really the only time when I’m faced with a bunch of high school students. The way many are dressed, the snatches of conversation I hear—all reminders of a teen culture I don’t feel part of! Naturally, everyone seems to have at least one person to talk to except me. If I try to sort of look like I’m part of their conversation, they just sort of ignore me. To make things even more complex, I don’t want to dress or act in a way that would probably grant me recognition. I don’t want to compromise myself in order to fit it in. This makes it so hard. I feel like an endangered species. 
I’ve just got to keep pushing on. Let culture roar. I’m not going to bow to it!

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