When I was fourteen.


At the moment, I’m hanging out in the Girl’s Dorm every evening during study hall. I get to be part of a Freshman Mentor Program that was started this year to help freshmen transition into high school, both scholastically and socially. It’s been a blast-with all the drama and serial dating that goes on, I’ve been challenged to go back in time and remember what it was like to be fourteen. I wrote this for those girls to show them, "See, I do know what it's like to go through all of this!", but their reactions to hearing the essay were priceless. They thought I made it all up.

I wasn’t very shy. I could talk to anyone at my small school, and I was pretty thrilled to be one of the oldest kids at school. I was extremely competitive in school subjects, and was determined to have the best grades in class. I was so driven in this feat that one day, I found out that I was no longer the fastest typist in keyboarding class so I would race the 2 other guys and try my hardest to become faster then them.

One day, in the middle of a typing race, with my eyes glued to the computer screen and my fingers clicking across the keyboard like water in a rainstorm, I felt something wet and slippery slide into my ear. A chubby, nasty boy named Kenneth had taken advantage of my concentration and given me a Wet Willy. Trying not to vomit in my mouth, I ran after him kicking and screaming. Kenneth wasn’t afraid to hit girls and I soon realized that I would probably get seriously injured if I were to fight back, so I ran to the bathroom to sanitize my ear canal.

Did I mention that I was a tomboy? I think a lot of my competitive nature came from my internal drive to show the world that girls can do things as well, if not better, than boys. Up until this point, I had been right about this, but around this age, my guy friends began to change and biceps would appear out of nowhere. Where were my biceps?

I think that because I was so tomboyish, the boys unfortunately were not attracted to me. I definitely bore the brunt of a lot of jokes, probably because I asked for it with my smart attitude. I remember wondering, Why do no boys like me like that? And then I would come to the conclusion that maybe it’s because I didn’t really wear much makeup or have boobs yet. Yes, must be the boob thing.

When I was fourteen, I discovered the greatest invention on the planet; instant messaging. I remember carrying on six different conversations with six different people at once, all with the touch of a button on my computer screen. All I wanted to do was chat. I think I spent countless hours lost in meaningless conversations with friends.

The summer after I turned 14, I did have a little romance in my life. While no boys in my hometown were into me, I seemed to have some remnant of princess in me, which was recognized in a staff kid at my summer camp. I didn’t know he like me until the last day of camp, when he told me in a smudged, ragged letter that he hoped I’d had a fun time at camp and that he wanted to keep in touch with me. I remember how jealous it made the other girls in my cabin and it felt so good to finally be the girl that is sought after. This boy and I wrote letters to each other a couple times a month on regular white notebook paper and had a very awkward phone call every other month or so. His letters were very deep and caring, and yet I felt like I didn’t know him at all. I remember one phone call and hearing his voice that seemed deeper and more foreign then I had remembered, at then end of a long series of awkward silences and weird topics, he said, “I love you”, and then waited for me to say it too. I could hear him breathing on the other end of the line. My mouth went dry and my hands turned numb as I tried to think of what to say. All that came out was, “Okay, bye!” and I hung up as fast as I could.

After a while, I grew bored with this fantasy fake relationship and wrote him an email that said that I thought we should see other people, because that’s what I’d heard teenagers say before. I felt bad that I didn’t really feel bad. I squeezed my eyes as hard as I could after I hit the “Send” button just to see if I could make one tear, just one tear, come out.

When I was fourteen, I really tried and tried to figure out who I was. I was tired of people telling me who I should be, and tired of being the same person I always was-a tomboy, perfectionist, competitive, and a little bit bratty. I was tired of trying to live up to my parents’ expectations of me yet I was too scared to actually do something rebellious. I was really self-obsessed and thought that everyone was always looking at me, and yet I was scared, so unbelievably scared to really “be myself”, whatever that means.

I do remember seeking God though it all, and feeling a peace among the onset teenage storm. I remember moments when nothing made sense and just praying for God to come near and take me through that hurricane of whatever it was at the time, whether it was after a fight with my parents, a bad heartbreak, or just because I was feeling very misunderstood.

And God prevailed. He spoke to me in a language that I could understand. In the midst of feeling so misunderstood, I felt Him listen. During times when I felt alone and helpless, underneath it all I sensed His presence. He told me to keep hanging on, that this was the beginning of something greater than I ever could hope to understand. And so I did.