“It’s taboo to admit that you’re lonely. You can make jokes about it, of course. You can tell people that you spend most of your time with Netflix or that you haven’t left the house today and you might not even go outside tomorrow. Ha ha, funny. But rarely do you ever tell people about the true depths of your loneliness, about how you feel more and more alienated from your friends each passing day and you’re not sure how to fix it. It seems like everyone is just better at living than you are.
A part of you knew this was going to happen. Growing up, you just had this feeling that you wouldn’t transition well to adult life, that you’d fall right through the cracks. And look at you now. La di da, it’s happening.
Your mother, your father, your grandparents: they all look at you like you’re some prized jewel and they tell you over and over again just how lucky you are to be young and have your whole life ahead of you. “Getting old ain’t for sissies,” your father tells you wearily.
You wish they’d stop saying these things to you because all it does is fill you with guilt and panic. All it does is remind you of how much you’re not taking advantage of your youth.
You want to kiss all kinds of different people, you want to wake up in a stranger’s bed maybe once or twice just to see if it feels good to feel nothing, you want to have a group of friends that feels like a tribe, a bonafide family. You want to go from one place to the next constantly and have your weekends feel like one long epic day. You want to dance to stupid music in your stupid room and have a nice job that doesn’t get in the way of living your life too much. You want to be less scared, less anxious, and more willing. Because if you’re closed off now, you can only imagine what you’ll be like later.
Every day you vow to change some aspect of your life and every day you fail. At this point, you’re starting to question your own power as a human being. As of right now, your fears have you beat. They’re the ones that are holding your twenties hostage.
Stop thinking that everyone is having more sex than you, that everyone has more friends than you, that everyone out is having more fun than you. Not because it’s not true (it might be!) but because that kind of thinking leaves you frozen. You’ve already spent enough time feeling like you’re stuck, like you’re watching your life fall through you like a fast dissolve and you’re unable to hold on to anything.
I don’t know if you ever get better. I don’t know if a person can just wake up one day and decide to be an active participant in their life. I’d like to think so. I’d like to think that people get better each and every day but that’s not really true. People get worse and it’s their stories that end up getting forgotten because we can’t stand an unhappy ending. The sick have to get better. Our normalcy depends upon it.
You have to value yourself. You have to want great things for your life. This sort of shit doesn’t happen overnight but it can and will happen if you want it.
Do you want it bad enough? Does the fear of being filled with regret in your thirties trump your fear of living today?
We shall see.”
God we fuck up teenagers’ heads. We tell them that biological conditions are moral punishments and then we get all shocked when they don’t practice rational risk management of biological conditions. We teach them “sex is super desirable and all the cool kids do it, and it’s hideously shameful and will destroy your life” and we wonder why they act an eensy bit neurotic about it. If you tried to design a system for making sexually active kids confused and unsafe, you couldn’t do much better than the American media and school system.
And for once, the answer is relatively simple. Just talk about sex like it’s a part of life. Some people have sex and some people don’t, because people are different. STIs aren’t bad because they’re Dirty Crotch Rot; they’re bad because they’re contagious illnesses like strep throat or whooping cough, and you can ask a doctor to check for and treat them just like you would with strep throat. Unwanted pregnancy isn’t a scarlet A; it’s a mostly-preventable accident that sometimes occurs when people are going about their normal business of having sex. You can ask the school counselor about a variety of topics, including career planning, problems at home, questions about sex, or conflicts with teachers.
If we could just get the goddamn stick out of our collective ass and accept that sex is a human activity and teenagers are humans, maybe there wouldn’t be quite so many plaintive “I don’t understand my body and I’m confused and scared and I don’t know anyone I can ask in person” messages flying out into the world.
… the socialization of boys regarding masculinity is often at the expense of women. I came to realize that we don’t raise boys to be men, we raise them not to be women (or gay men). We teach boys that girls and women are “less than” and that leads to violence by some and silence by many. It’s important for men to stand up to not only stop men’s violence against women but, to teach young men a broader definition of masculinity that includes being empathetic, loving and non-violent.