Forever Awkward

So Young. So Awkward

So Young. So Awkward

We are sitting in the Sokol on a Tuesday night. Beer. Becherovka. It’s a way to celebrate a good day or forget a bad day while handicapping the next day. Somehow we get onto the subject of our awkward teen years. The things we did.

My friend confides that were I to visit his neighborhood a few decades before, I might see him wandering around, running errands, doing garden work, and even working his part-time job at a video store in a full gi (aka: karate uniform).

Not to be outdone in the awkward area, a space in which I can confidently and comfortably assert myself, I tell him that from the age of ten(ish) to fourteen(ish) I desperately wanted to be in the army. I dressed in fatigues, boots, marched everywhere in close order drill, and nicknamed my bedroom The Swamp, after the surgeon’s tent from M*A*S*H.

We laugh hard. But the speed with which we order another round of shots is no coincidence.

Oh there’s more, too. So much more. 

There are the four attempts I made at a “beard” between the ages of twelve and seventeen, before it finally took when I was twenty-two. My friend is permanently tortured with a mental picture of himself in a Jheri curl and the knowledge that he alone was responsible for dozens of activator stains on couches.

Our awkward pasts are funny, but nothing will cause a level of retroactive embarrassment so high that it will actually cause your body to wince. And this happens no matter how far removed you are from it.

There is some solace to this, namely that almost everyone goes through it. Awkward teenage phases are Mother Nature’s way of letting us know that we are all one under the category of Life’s Bitches. So while I remember my own with a painfully embarrassed groan, you remember yours in the same way. Maybe at this very moment you are cringing as flashes of an Emo Phase, a Deadhead Phase, or a Ninja Phase do the Tarantella through your mind.

And these are the big ones. There are dozens upon dozens of smaller awkward teen moments that sting just as much as recalling the physical manifestation of our awkward teen phases. There are the sex talks with parents, the lying so as not to feel out-of-place, the hormonal leaps and valleys, the first attempts at flirtation. Additionally, there are the stubborn stands taken and the unshakeable personal beliefs held with absolute conviction, with no understanding that just a few years later we’d be altogether different people.

This is probably never going to change. The only difference nowadays is that a teen’s awkward phase has a megaphone that can potentially reach millions of people. With Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, teens have the conduits to express little tidbits of teenly wisdom, share personal information and feelings, and post pictures to a huge (faceless) group of witnesses. Remember the tidbits of wisdom you had as a teen? Remember the personal information you shared? Remember the kinds of photos you took as a teen?



And this is just the information that teens want to share, there is more shared about or featuring them. The more awkward and embarrassing of these are captured forever in memes, viral videos, and Buzzfeed lists. Star Wars kid comes to mind, or the seventy zillion gone wrong videos featuring teens dancing on tables, pulling dumb stunts, or twerking.

Even the ones that aren’t getting such universal attention are imbibed by that particular teen’s local community and friends. Do you remember how you felt when someone caught you doing something embarrassing? Imagine that on a scale 100 times worse. And permanently documented.

Whenever I catch a video of teens being teens, I always feel bad for them, no matter how purposeful the act is on the part of the teens themselves. And then I get down on my mental knees and thank the on duty deity that the internet wasn’t around for my awkward teen years. I thank him further that when I was being an awkward teen I wasn’t surrounded by people with cameras and video cameras in their pockets.

And if you are in your early thirties plus, you probably do something similar.

So I guess it boils down to the fact that people will always have an awkward teen phase. But while ours can be largely forgotten, forgiven, and remembered with private and humorous embarrassment, this is not always the case for many teens nowadays. Their awkward teen phases are captured and kept in Internetland forever.

Would you want a day by day reminder of your teen days?

Me neither.

So, the next time you are belly laughing at an awkward teen video or picture, just think back to your Karate Phase, your Madonna Phase, your Army Phase, and then be nice.

Moreover, the next time you are attacked by a reminder of your awkward teen self, I recommend Becherovka. It does wonders, just make sure you don’t have a busy morning.

  1. #1 by HP Trainer on May 23, 2016 - 10:17 pm

    So, do all 40-somethings laugh at teen memes?

Comments are closed.