Ah, the essence of youth. We are all obsessed with it. When we were young adults, we wanted to be older. Now that we’re older, we spend billions of dollars a year to look and feel younger. We crave our youth and the flexibility in our bodies, the stamina we once had, the carefree ways we enjoyed.
When I was a teen, the world was different, but the problems were still the same as now. We had the popular girls in school who got pregnant and had abortions. We had the smokers in the bathrooms and the jocks that had all the girls. There were evil teachers, fantastic teachers and those that couldn’t teach at all. We had the jokesters and the druggies, the slackers and the bookworms. The beautiful and the unattractive. You were either popular or you weren’t. Those were the two cliques. Somehow, we muddled through the heartaches, the disappointments, the dates that went horribly wrong. We clung to our achievements and moved on to college, jobs, marriages, and families. Only after years of struggling for financial freedom, moving up in our jobs, placing careers before family, do we sit back and wonder why we didn’t hold onto our youth just a little longer. Why were we in such a hurry to grow up?
I suppose that is the underlying reason I like to write YA. It takes me back to a time I should have not been so anxious to leave. Through writing, I can experience things I never experienced as a teen. I can pretend to know what it feels like to be popular or pretty. I wouldn’t trade the bookworm part because I think smart and pretty go really well together. I could be more of a daredevil, a risk-taker. I could be a bit rebellious, say “To hell with the world, I’m going to live!” In writing YA, I can re-write any scenario to alter the tragedies of my youth. I wouldn’t have to lose my father 2 weeks before my 12th birthday. I wouldn’t have ‘Danny’ abandon me at the 10th grade dance to make out with and leave with a pretty cheerleader. I wouldn’t be the ‘four-eyed geek’ of the school.
As a mom, I’ve lived and relived the trials and tribulations of youth with my four kids. My oldest just graduated college, is a teacher and has a beautiful little girl. My second will graduate in 2013 with her Master’s in costuming and plans to travel the world. My third is floundering. He’s 20. He hasn’t found his niche’ and high school was a nightmare experience. But he has a heart of gold and an amazing way of making people laugh and feel good. My fourth is seventeen and is so done with high school. He has one more year to go. He wants to join the Air Force and eventually get a job in computers. He’s a video game junkie and an avid fantasy/dystopian reader who loves the military channel.
Each one of them has had their struggles as young adults and each one will tell you they’re glad it’s over or will be over. They will each tell you they would never do it again, that being a teen was too hard and there were too many bad memories to outweigh the good ones. I hope I’m around when they get to be my age and wish, for just a moment, they could go back to a simpler place in time where muscles didn’t ache, stamina was abundant, there was no illness and moms and dads were still around to kiss and hug the boo boo’s away.
To youth…I salute you. I wish I hadn’t been so anxious to leave you behind. Thanks for the memories, both good and bad. They’re all fodder for future books. Now to just write them all down.