Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Am a Teenager

Except, of course, I'm not. I'm 26, so my teenage days are significantly behind me.

But teenager is, I think, as much a state of mind as it is an age. When people ask me why, as an adult, I read and write for teenagers, my thought is always:

"... I'm an adult?"

Being a teenager is about figuring out who you are and how you relate to other people. It's about finding your place in the world. It can be a brutal process, with lots of ups and downs, and I've got news for you guys: it doesn't stop when you hit twenty.

It doesn't stop when you graduate college, or when you get your first job or start paying rent on your first apartment. I don't know, but I'm willing to bet it doesn't stop when you get married or even when you have kids of your own. I keep waiting for the magic day when I'll feel like a real grown-up -- like I finally have things figured out -- but I'm not sure that day will ever come.

Because here's the secret that no one ever thinks to tell you about life when you're young: we're all just making it up as we go along. Everyone around you - your parents, your teachers, everyone - is only faking being a grown-up. Most of them aren't anymore sure of themselves or what they're doing in life than you are. You just learn to fake it better with age.

So, in the end, we're all teenagers in some ways. Millions of teen readers can relate to books written by adults and millions of adult readers can relate to books written about teens because trying to figure out who you are and where you belong is universal and pretty much unending.

It would have scared the hell out of me if someone had told me this when I was sixteen, but now I find it oddly liberating. At least I know everyone else is in the same adrift and confused boat, just doing their best to keep paddling and hopefully have some fun doing it.

Plus, my perpetual teenage-dom means I'll never have to read/write boring old adult books!

There are no grown-ups. Tell your friends!


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