Adolescence

May 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

there is a place in time –
your time, the ribbon of your life –
when it goes multicolored and chaotic
shifting, spinning,
fraying and remaking.

it’s terrible and beautiful,
full of wonder and full of fear,
but most of all,
full of potential.

do not believe them when adults say:
“these are the best years of your life.”
their memories are blurred with nostalgia,
colored by what they see in you:
your passion
your struggle to be free
your struggle to be you.

i remember hating that idea,
that this was as good as it gets –
high school, adolescence,
the shifting currents of identity
of social circles
of mood and thought and belief
the fight to rip loose of
parental bindings and
parental expectations and
the me that others wanted me to be –
because it’s awful.

it’s stress and chaos and pain,
the push-pull of
accept-me but let-me-be
let-me-grow, let-me-become
release me to breathe
but not too much,
needing support and stability more than ever
because nothing is stable inside…

later, not too many years later,
i found my adolescence laid out in bullet points
in the pages of a textbook.

It is not so bad a thing, this shared experience.
It means this: You are not alone.
You do not suffer singly
unless you wall yourself away
and shut yourself inside.

This is real:
your loves and hates, your feuds and friendships,
your hurts and your triumphs.

They’ll try to belittle that, too –
try to say “it’s just a phase,
you’re just a teenager,
you’ll grow out of this or that,
it’s just teenage hormones,
puppy love,
adolescent drama
” –

Don’t listen to them.

This is real.
You are real.
Everything ends,
even this,
but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless
or should be dismissed.

Listen, listen:
you are incredible,
you are iridescence barely contained
and so few of you realize it.

Be angry!
It gives you strength
and often it’s well-deserved.

Be passionate!
You are more powerful than you know
and it’s this tumult of emotion and desire
that fuels your might
and sparks your wonder.

It stabilizes, eventually;
the chaos settles out,
you find a balance
and if you’re very lucky
it’s the one you need.

But first there is the transformation
you are all shapeshifters, half-formed.
This is when you form yourself,
this is when you shape your identity,
this is when you separate, thread by thread,
from the hard-carved grooves of upbringing.

Not everyone makes it.
So many remain trapped
in the patterns of their surroundings –
i’ve seen it, again and again,
where the wounds are cut too deep, too often,
roots bound too tight in shallow earth
to ever expand,
despite the raging
despite the fighting
to be free
to move
to live.

It can take a lifetime
even for the kindest of histories,
but now is when it starts.

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