Embracing Our Stupidest Years: Ignorance Is Bliss, and Boy, Are We Ignorant!
March 27, 2014
A Ke$ha song from 2010 plays on the radio so loud it shakes the beige Honda Civic filled with over-caffeinated high school girls that I find myself crushed into. It is 12 a.m. as my friends and I pull into the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru.
For a brief moment before I order six “whatever-donuts,” I pause to absorb my surroundings. To feel the cold air pouring through the windows, the uncomfortable pain induced by the studded purse that is crushed underneath my thigh, the lyrics of Tik Tok pouring out of my mouth like drool induced by Ryan Gosling’s smolder. I then commence to sing as loudly as I can, thrashing my body around as much as my 90’s-esque mini dress will allow, shaking the car to the beat of horrible hip hop.
This is perfect, this is happiness, this is teen. This is one of the moments in which it is kind of okay being a half-child, half-adult, where I am out doing wonderful things without parental supervision but can still act like an idiot because I am not technically old enough to be required to act fully sensibly.
So often we complain about this period of our lives, attaching it to adjectives such as “terrible,” “hopeless,” “wasteful,” but these are transformative years that are also exhilarating and independent. They ease us into the world of responsibility, but still allow us to cling to our favorite parts of childhood while sampling the freedom of the adult world. These are the years that are crucial to our growth and development as human beings.
Thanks to economics class, I have determined that being an adult sounds terrible–taxes, children, grocery shopping, rent, watching crime shows religiously and raving about “Blackfish”–let us shove that as far into the future as we can and continue to meander through the downtown mall on Friday nights, buying Cook Out’s Cheerwine floats with only quarters after a rambunctious night of driving through Earlysville blasting the Breakfast Club soundtrack.
Now is your time to dye your hair and to wink at people you don’t know but would like to! Now is your time to write terrible songs and dabble in different stereotypes! To sport three pairs of Nike socks or let your pants dangle a foot below your waist! To wear your favorite black Chelsea boots to concerts filled with faded college students who are wearing Toms and drinking Bud Light! Now is your time to do the socially unacceptable and it be relatively accepted just because it will be written off as “something a teenager would do.”
We are dilettantes of the world! Yes, we have to get up while it is still dark outside, we have to outline and spend 8 hours in uncomfortable plastic chairs but in every minute of what we label “educational hell,” we are living the parts of the high school movies they never showed: the getting-to-know-you’s, the group projects, the history lectures, the uncomfortable flirting, the bad hair days.
There is a satisfaction that derives from being able to be so dramatic and stupid and strange during our high school years. The miserable moments of being a teenager are the valued moments of being a teenager. You sort of love being able to relate to Taylor Swift’s lyrics and worrying about a prom date, you sort of love tweeting about all the mango frozen yogurt you just ate by yourself.
Before student loans, before taxes bear down on us, before we spend every week night watching Scandal or NCIS, let us appreciate the blissful ignorance of adolescence. Let the late-night sob fests and the failed tests be overshadowed by the midnight Slurpee runs, the car speakers blasting Beyoncè, your head so far out the window in the nighttime air that you can’t hear her regal voice against the wind, but you can feel the bass.