I remember 13. It was November, and we had just moved from my hometown to Peoria. I was a freshman and not at all happy to leave my friends, let alone start a new school two months into the year. Double bonus: my first day of school was my birthday. I cried all the way home.
Life sucked. In part because of the circumstances, but in large part due to my attitude toward those circumstances. I was unhappy, had a chip on my shoulder, and was going to let everyone know about it.
It took me about a year to come around. The August before I started my sophomore year, I asked my mom if I could change schools. She must have been desperate at that point (I know the feeling now) because she obliged. Year 14 gave me a fresh start, and a new outlook on life. Sure, I made a ginormous amount of mistakes, but I had come from the depths of 13, so I could survive anything.
"You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone." -John Ciardi, Simmons Review, Fall 1962
I was lucky. What happens to these poor pre-teens who just get off on the wrong foot and are never able to turn it around? And even if they DO turn it around, does anyone bother to notice? Or are they destined to always be labeled as they were originally perceived?
13 is complicated. Yes, it can be a fun, carefree, interesting and cool part of your life. It can also be depressing, helpless, emotional and full of angst. 13 is trying on different personalities to see if they fit. Sure, you have your own, but you're not comfortable with it. Or it's not accepted. Or cool. So you act like you think you should, or how your friend does, or how the cool people do just to fit in.
"Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own." -Logan Pearsall Smith, "Age and Death," Afterthoughts, 1931
You make mistakes. Again. And again. There's no "learning from them the first time" at 13. You question authority. You ask why. You don't understand. You wonder when you're just going to grow up and then everything will be OK. You have no idea that your parents are going through three times the anguish that you are, just watching you.
"Adolescence is a period of rapid changes. Between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, a parent ages as much as 20 years." -Author Unknown
My heart aches for 13, but I know it's a rite of passage that all humans must go through, some more gracefully than others. Unfortunately, I can only watch like a hawk, listen when it's needed and pray like there's no tomorrow.
"Figuring out who you are is the whole point of the human experience." -Anna Quindlen