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Life As We Know It

By , Denver, CO
Forword

Enjoy the little
things in life …
… for one day you’ll look
back and realize they
were the big things

--Robert Brault


Prologue

Each and everyday anew
Each moment spent completely true
Time moves on each waking minute
Our blank world, waiting to greet us

The colors seeping through and filling in,
Our experiences creating the place we live
The little things we used to do
Become the things that get us through

This story we call Life


The daily news, simple articles about the economy, the latest and greatest gossip at school, my parents; small things influence who I am. It’s my world. There hasn’t ever been an event that truly impacted my life in such a way that it changed the way I live. It’s the things around me, the people, the environment, that shape who I am.

I live the average American teen life. School, friends, and family make up a big part of it. I wake up, go to school, see all my friends, come home, spend time with my family, do whatever other activities I do, like homework, sports, etc., and then go to sleep. Sounds like an exciting day, right? Well no, not really. But it’s the little things I do during that day that make it more enjoyable and something to remember. I love writing and whenever I need somewhere to escape, I write. I can be sad, happy, or fearful. Fear also makes up a big part of not only mine, but just about everyone’s life. We are afraid to try, to love, to do something different. It’s only human to be afraid, though, and being a human means that you have to live.



Fear
One will never reach distant shores,
if he chooses to remain upon the dock,
In fear his little ship of dreams
may be dashed against the rocks.
--F. Bolen

Fear. The word explains itself. Whether it is a person, animal, supernatural force, or something else, we want nothing to do with it.
Humans’ lives are completely fear based; we do what our instincts tell us to do. Instead of staying out with your friends till one in the morning, you go home, afraid of what your parents will do to you if you don’t. In this case, fear is a good thing. I guess in some cases, you could also call fear your conscience, it warns you when something isn’t right.

For me, fear isn’t like a certain “thing”. I get more nervous than anything. I freak out when I have a big test or project coming up, I procrastinate, have a recital or some activity I have to do in front of other people, or when I see a scary movie or spider.

I think that one of the biggest fears people have is other people. We always try to measure up to each other and are afraid of what our peers think. Most of us shower the people we want to hang around with, with attention, and completely blow off the other people because it makes us feel better and we’re fearful of what others think.

Scientists call human beings the most intellectual creatures to ever walk on Earth, but I think that in some ways we’re pathetic. Yes, we have opposable thumbs, thinking minds, and feelings, but are lives are controlled by those feelings. We’re not even close to being perfect, and yet as flawless as we are compared to some species, they have traits that humans will never be able to copy. . .

Tall, blonde, and skinny. Oh, how most would wish themselves that way. But skinny just wasn’t enough. She had to be skinnier than skinny; she had to be anorexic.
Something inside of her kept telling her she was too fat, she needed to lose weight, stop eating for a while, or cut back. In her eyes, she wasn’t pretty until she could see just about every bone in her body. Something had changed her.

She used to laugh and make jokes, run around with us and think up the craziest, most amazing ideas. Her smile was pure and happy. She’d do and say the most hilarious things and we’d all crack up, drops of laughter rolling down our cheeks. She was different then.
A few weeks into second quarter was when she started to change the most. Everyday she would complain about how she felt fat; then she started eating less and skipping meals. That’s when I got worried. She lost weight in a matter of weeks, looking more tired as the days passed. She got scary skinny. She was quieter, and stopped smiling as much. It was like she grew up 40 years in a month.
After talking about it for a while, my friend and I went and told a counselor about her problem. A few days later she was called into the counselor’s office, and that’s where her help began. She went to the doctors and was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. It turns out she was 30 pounds under weight. You could tell just by looking at her that she was a lot skinnier than most people. So I guess I wasn’t that surprised. It was more of a shock that it happened to one of my good friends who I had known for a long time.

I don’t know how well she’s doing, if she’s doing well at all. I haven’t talked to her for a few months, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m afraid, or if I’m lazy. From what my mom tells me, she’s still in denial and doesn’t know why she is in rehab. “Problem? What problem? I don’t need this. I’m perfectly fine, really.” I can almost hear her, her thoughts ringing in my head. She was so skinny, so tall, and so not herself anymore. I want her to get better, to come back to school and be silly and weird and happy again. But I know that even if she were to come back, it wouldn’t be the same. She hates food, she hates fat, and I think she hates herself. I wonder what she’s feeling. Is she scared, or does she like the attention? Does she want to get better, or does she even know that she’s hurting herself? Minds are confusing and so are the actions they can cause, I’m just hoping that she’s not stuck in rehab for another 3 months.
As small children running around the pre-school room, our teachers, with throbbing headaches, would gather us around in a big circle and make us sing songs in order to bring the chaos down a notch. In the collection of nursery rhymes, the infamous spider song was bound to be apart of it. With a catchy tune, childish lyrics and a sweetened story, it almost makes spiders sound innocent and harmless. The reality, however, is a bit more shocking. . .

Protruding a sticky string from their butt, creeping along your walls, sucking the blood out of flies, there ain’t nothing sweet about this little character. You see, I have a theory. Run when you see a spider, and you won’t get bit. Simple enough.

Of course, at two in the morning that isn’t always possible.

Sitting on my bed, reading a book, thinking about how quiet everything is; then I look up. Curled up in the crease of where my ceiling meets the wall, is a crusty brown, eight legged, freaky eyed, venom carrying Devil … a daddy long leg. I jolt up, my heart leaping out of my chest, run to the tissue box, bring it over to my bed, and stand on the end of my mattress as far away from it is possible. Slowly I inch forward, not taking my eyes off of it for even a second. I grab the remaining tissues and wad them into somewhat of a “spider-smasher”. It’s just me and the spider. I can hear the music in my head, its me , then him, then me, then him again, just like in the movies. But this isn’t the movies, this real … it’s a spider, and it’s on my wall. My hand only a few inches from its twisted body, I pull back a scream, look into its multiple eyes, and completely freak out. My head spins a little and I drop the tissues, the spider’s body becoming bigger, taking up my vision. I jump off the bed, grab a pillow and a blanket, and run into my bathroom, locking the door behind me.

I’m completely shaken, standing the bathroom and wondering where the spider is. I know, complete overreaction. So I gather my nerves together and walk back into my bedroom. I shake my covers before getting back into bed and look over my room. No spider in sight; that doesn’t help. I pull the covers all the way over my head, cover my mouth and my nose (apparently you eat like so many spiders in your life time because they crawl into your mouth when your sleeping … I know, scary), and try to fall asleep.

Too bad it didn’t really work.


School
Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open
--Thomas Dewar
Between toddler and adult is that awful 13 year period where we have to go to school. Waking up at six, doing homework, sitting in a desk most of the day, and listening to teachers gab about boring stuff isn’t fun, but it does teach us stuff.

Knowledge is truly the key to life. Knowing and understanding how and why things work are the basics of life. Without school, we wouldn’t learn anything.
Coming to Ranch View was kind of a shock for me. With all the new people and teachers I was kind of overwhelmed. Getting used to the new environment was a definite adjustment. Back at my elementary school I was always top of my class and everything was easy for me, but here I have a lot more to keep track of. Taking Chinese, advanced science, math and doing extra work for language arts on top of all my other homework, can definitely be a stressor. In the end I think it’s good for me though. I’ve become much more responsible, although I still procrastinate quite a bit, and gotten better at time management.

I think I would be bored without school. Even though I don’t like homework or tests, it gives me something to do and to think about. School has definitely sent my life in a certain direction. I’m really hard on myself when it comes to getting good grades and have incredibly high expectations of myself. I don’t even like getting B’s … ask any of my friends. I work extremely hard and study my butt off for tests, even when I don’t need to. Along with my fear of spiders and psychotic, homeless people, I’m afraid of failure. I don’t like getting lower grades or loosing, and even though that’s not exactly failure, if I don’t do as good as possible, I get mad.

I guess you could say that I think of school as a competition, and that that might not be the greatest thing in the world, but I still believe that it’s better to be driven and accomplish something, than to not care at all.

Welcome to my world. I’m smart, know more than the “average bear”, understand more things than most 13 year olds, actually listen in school and know a thing or two about what’s right and wrong.

To my parents, school is the most important thing in my life right now. To me, it’s too easy. I pretty much know everything already, or it takes me five minutes to learn something new. I remember things easily and because of that I don’t really have to study for tests. All of this is helpful, yes; but school can get really boring. I basically sit at a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week, going over stuff I don’t need to know or am going to remember a year from now.

Ah, Social Studies. The class where we don’t need to know any of the information we are taught. I mean really, when am I going to need to know what a cirque is or what a hanging glacier looks like? Unless I’m going to scale the Alps when I get older, it’s not something I really need to, or want to, know.

It’s 10:30 in the morning (I’d usually still be sleeping on weekends) and I’m sitting in Social Studies listening to my teacher talk about “plucking”, half falling asleep, doodling in my notebook, and watching the clock tick, tick, tick by.

Wow … why am I learning this??? I’m glaring at the teacher. But he doesn’t see me. I’m bored out of my skull; my brain is literally on the floor since there’s no reason to think. For the past week and a half my class has been going over the structure of a glacier, taking notes, and writing stupid facts about chunks of ice floating in water … I don’t know why, but I hate it.

“This is stupid,” my friend whispers to me.

“I know,” I say, “Why do we need to know any of this?” She rolls her eyes and shakes her head.

Just another lesson.

Fifteen minutes later, exactly, he lets us out of class. I’m free, and happy, and waking up from 45 minutes of doing nothing. It’s one of those moments when you wonder, What was the point of that again? And then realize there never really was a point. It was just something for us to do. Tada! That’s exactly what Social Studies is all about. And you don’t have to be “smart” to know that.

...I don’t hate school, I actually kind of like it, but it gets pointless sometimes. I would much rather be out exploring the world and learning about different cultures and things that way than through a textbook. It’s easier to remember life experiences than something you read.

I need school, I’m not so smart to where I can just skip school completely, and I’m not saying that I’m that smart. It’s just that things can get really boring and stay the same. It’s more interesting if you do something new and different from everyday life. I don’t think things should always be routine. It’s good to be organized, but it’s also good to be spontaneous and try new things. School almost limits creativity and what kids are capable of. Not everyone learns the same and I think it’s stupid to teach everyone the same way. I know that teachers are trying to give as much of a variety as they can, but it doesn’t always work.

I think it would be really cool to go to a school where the main thing I did was write – a school for gifted and talented writers. It’d be easier to express myself there and truly sink into my writing skin. I feel like at school I almost have to wear a mask. That doesn’t help either…

The mask. We all wear one.
We wake up every morning, brush our teeth, take a shower, whatever, to get ready for the day; and we put on our mask. But it doesn’t cover our face, it covers who we really are. We are afraid we won’t fit in, and that people wont accept us if we aren’t like they are.

I know that sounds pretty horrible that sometimes society won’t accept us if we aren’t a certain way, but people can be just that bad. Most of us are afraid of different, either that, or we are jealous of the people who aren’t afraid to show their true colors. If we all had the nerve to take off our masks and be ourselves, I guarantee the world would be a much more colorful place. But for now most people hide themselves in the crowd, hoping quietly, that they’ll blend in.

Wearing a mask is like being in a cloud; you can see yourself, but just your outline. Sometimes things become so foggy that we can’t do, think, or see anything, so we do what others do, hoping it’s the right thing, feeling helpless if it’s not. Soon we become so uncomfortable being outside the fog that we are afraid to let it clear, we condense into the same shape and size as all the other “raindrops” that make up the cloud. But in the end, we all fall down onto the same Earth, from the same cloud, in the same storm; so does it really matter if we’re different? Does it really matter what other people think if in the end we all end up in the same place? No; but does that stop us from putting on our masks everyday? Never.


Writing
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
--Cyril Connally

Paper is my favorite. It’s got everything I need already bundled into it. And what is that you ask? It’s nothing. Absolutely, completely nothing. It’s blank, boring, and begging to be breathed to life. That’s when the ink comes in. Oh, and of course the writer. When I fall into an idea, there’s a sort of weird energy that I bring out and pour thought into. Writing is an escape. It pulls me in. It’s not easier to write, it’s easier to come up with the words, but to make them mine, it takes a lot more time and thought than most would think. Everything that I write has my name on it, it is me.

THE ZONE. Most writers completely zone out when they’re writing and forget everything thing that’s going on around them. Though, I have never really experienced that, I can get into my writing, but I am still aware of all that is going on. For instance, as I am writing this, my mom is washing the dishes and my dad and brother are watching trashy TV. It’s hard for me to lose myself completely in a piece because I have so many other things I have to do and think about. There are a few times when I get this buzz and I write like a thousand words a minute and think of hundreds of new ideas, but it doesn’t happen all that often or last very long, maybe an hour or two. But when it does, it’s almost magical. There’s really no stopping me, I write, take a break, write, take a break, and so on. It’s almost easier for me this way because I can look over my writing more and make corrections or add ideas. It also gives me more time to think.
~It’s interesting how different the world you want and the world you live in can be. In your head everything is as you want it to be, but your real life may not be as good, so whenever I want to escape, I write. I love being lost in words, not knowing where I’ll end up. It’s like a puzzle that only you can figure out, so secret and curious. I think that’s why I’m good at it. Emotions also play a big part in writing. When coming up with an idea you really have to think about what emotions it brings and the overall feeling you want your reader to experience. I can take something so minute and simple and stretch it into something much larger than itself, make it interesting. And it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as I have a pen and something to write on, the vision is endless. ~
Even though writing is one of my favorite things, I have a hard time getting too into it. I think I might be afraid of what I can do, I don’t really know why, but whatever the reason, it kind of kills me. I want to be able to become what I write, but instead I think I write what I am and don’t tell too much.


Friends
“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
--Hellen Keller

There are such things as scary stories, but most are fiction. A year ago in sixth grade, my friend revealed a secret about her that forever changed the way a looked at her.
We all have secrets, ones that we can be ashamed of, don’t want to remember, and have changed a little bit of us, maybe most of us. Letting in just one friend, though, to help with it, can make a difference. It’s hard, I know, it’s hard to have to live with what’s happened, but knowing someone cares and is trying to help can make things a little better. Smile, is what I say, laugh a little bit and the world becomes just a ray brighter. Dream about the things that you like and forget what you don’t, even if it’s always standing in you way. But in your head, I think things might be harder to forget. There is no safe haven to go to, to escape to. It’s just you and the world, and the mess inside your mind, how horrible I cannot think, and nor do I want to . . .

I sat there, staring at my friend, wondering what had been going on the past week; her missing school, being more reserved and quieter, avoiding everyone. I hadn’t seen her smile once. Dreary, purple bags hung under her eyes, giving her an exaggerated sickness kind of look. And she was paler than usual. Her mind was elsewhere, clearly not focused on the assignment in front of us.

She just sat there, unmoving, unchanging. I wasn’t even staring at her anymore. I was looking at a statue, fated for death.

“Are you okay?” I asked, already aware that she was nowhere close to being okay.
No reply. She just sat there, solemn, a rock.

“Hey, are you okay?” her eyes shifted to me for only seconds, then turned cold.

“No,” she almost whispered.

“What’s wrong?” my heart beat a little faster, frightened by her pained expression.

“It’s my mom,” her mouth moved, but it wasn’t her talking. It wasn’t the sweet and shy friend with whom I shared many memories with. It was a darker, twisted stranger speaking. “She’s not doing well.”

I realized immediately what she was talking about. Depression. Her mom was depressed. It got worse some days and would stay like that for weeks. I couldn’t even imagine, nor did I want to, how hard it must be for her and her family.

“And me,” she said, glancing at me again. I looked at her with curious eyes. She replied with, “I’m depressed too.”

I wasn’t shocked, I wasn’t scared. I just turned to stone too, stiff, unable to breathe.

“You’re depressed?” I asked, reality slowly creeping back. “How, when? How are you? Do you feel alright? Do you need help? A doctor? Does your mom know? Do you need medication? Are you already on medication? Are you sure you don’t need help?”

“I’m fine,” she interrupted. A thousand questions had flooded out my mouth. A million more still swimming in my head.
Of course depression isn’t an uncommon thing, and it did run in her family, but just knowing, and seeing what it did to her made my insides turn.
I stared at the floor, shaken and worried,
Her eyes were blank, we were silent, the world seemed to speed up. It burned to watch her, to see her hurt. I didn’t fully understand what it meant, but after seeing her mom, I could tell it wasn’t pleasant.

For a brief moment, it was as if I could feel it too, as if her feelings had some how penetrated my flesh, seeping into me. I hated it. It made my skin crawl and head spin. The anger, the sadness, the confusion, I didn’t know what to say so I just sat there.

It hasn’t gotten better, in some ways it’s gotten worse. About a month ago she showed me her arm. On it were scabbing cut marks, five of them. She had taken a blade to her skin. She told me thats all she did. That’s all she has done. Now they’re hardly noticeable, just small painful reminders of the darkness that can hurt us all.


Epilogue
I do believe that we are born as we are meant to be, only growing stronger and wiser and more able as time walks on. Though to accomplish the greatness we are all destined for, we are tested and changed, morphed into new creatures, good and bad.

The steps we take and the obstacles along the way teach us that sometimes it’s the journey that brings us to the end that is more of an experience than the ending itself. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the most difference. Simple words said by someone, quiet thoughts that make us wonder, or the sky, showing off all its colors in a final wave to the world as it ducks under the land; the moments that really make us appreciate the world around us, and the people who make it real and livable.

This is life as we . . . or I . . . know it.



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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

DevonW.This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 27, 2009 at 4:09 pm:
Omg thanks guys! Its so awesome when people comment on my writing! Thank u!!!!!!!!!
 
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raevyn_13 said...
Sept. 27, 2009 at 6:05 am:
This is absolutely great!!!! I hope you keep on writing and sharing what you write because this was seriously good. I mean, I was hanging on to every word!
 
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Brenda S. said...
Sept. 18, 2009 at 7:20 pm:
very good!!! i love it!! keep it up!
 
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Mac&Sam said...
Sept. 18, 2009 at 8:17 am:
A power memoir depicting a young teenager showing us the world around her. Shows thoughtful insight about everyday matters that have real importance when they're looked at beyond the surface.
 
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devvvThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm:
Hey! I'm soo excited this got published!! Please leave comments!!!
 
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