What is it like to be a teenager today?

My application to the Movella's Summer Internship. I decided to write about what it's like to be a teenager in a mix of form and fiction, and also I included my thoughts about what it's like to be an aspiring teen writer.

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1. Young, Wild and Free

“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”                                                                                  Goodbye to Berlin, Christopher Isherwood (1939)

 

“Why do we read?” the English teacher asks slowly and simply, pausing for dramatic effect while she scans the room for any reaction. Her words tumble through my mind, spinning and searching for the answer. Why do I read? The question is simple on its own, and yet there is a sly gravity behind the question.

 

I read every night, it's all I can do to get me to sleep. I devour books; chew them up greedily, my eyes hugging the written words with every line. I am not selective; whether it's a ridiculous fantasy or the sinister mystery, the riveting thriller, or the longing romance - I've read it all. I'll stay up for hours, when everyone is long asleep, their snoring a radio to my live slumber. I'll sit there in my makeshift nest; the covers surrounding me, a book in my hands, my eyes straining to read, the pages crinkle in my hands, a feeling of utter pleasure wriggles down my spine.

 

Yes I like to read, but why? That one part syllable word, that leaves me stuttering and speechless. Do I find comfort in the pages of books, to read about another persons life and know it'll turn out perfectly for them? Or am I an escapist? Do I sneakily step into the close up and personal life of the character, eagerly ready to enter someone elses life, other than my own? Or do I simply enjoy the freedom of ploughing through books, studying the many different persona's, picking at the author's mistakes and dreaming of the day it will be my own book on that shelf?

 

My friend Mandy sighs heavily beside me and I instantly jolt out of my reverie and back into the world of the living. She takes one last fleeting glance at the sheet about ‘literature theory’ the teacher has placed in front of us, makes a face and then decidedly pushes it further across the table and further away from herself. “I don’t get any of this!” she whines dramatically holding her hand in her hands. She winks at me knowingly and I smile back. The world of teens is a world of drama queens; it’s a secretive world; a closed society where to understand us, you may just have to be one of us.

 

We are undoubtedly distanced from our parents by the irrevocable fact that they were born before us. We’re somewhat distanced from teachers due to the uncomprising relationship of ‘you teach’, ‘I listen.’ As a group, we stand proudly alone while the majority of the world seems to be quite convinced we will live a scarred and empty life due to our addictions to Facebook and iPhones and all the other new options technology can provide us that makes our lives just that much easier.

 

Our world is expanding and changing so fast; universities becoming more expensive, competition for education increasing… Let alone why we read, how will we read in the future? Will all books become digitalised? Will computers become smarter than humans? How much higher will life expectancy increase? Big questions such as these make my head spin, and yet at the same time they need to be asked; not only by adults and professors but also by us ‘youth’, the so called ‘lights of the world’. Once in a while when we’re at the cinema or eating out, our conversations will stray to,‘Why is the sky blue’? And we’ll argue and debate and probably end up laughing at ourselves as we go round and round in circles, because we’re always coming to the strangest of conclusions about random topics.

 

We carry the burdens of our parents’ expectations; for great careers and high grades and at the same time we’re told that we’re young and that these are the years we’ll never get back once they’re gone. Everybody’s squeezing their eyes tight and hoping that they’ll make their ambitions, but at the same time we're crossing our fingers as we secretly hope that our future is still worlds away.

 

I like to close my eyes and imagine myself in parallel worlds. I love to put my characters in the nastiest of situations because through them I can outlive my personal nightmares and at the same time fashion a perfect solution – a happy ending. I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. I am a silent observer as I drink in the world of the 21st century with my unique perspective of a sixteen year old. Through words and metaphors I have the power to explain the ineffable, to express myself freely and creatively. Similarly, as teenagers we’re constantly fighting to get our voices heard, prove our individuality, that we’re more than just the average person; living young, wild and free.

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