I am moving. I’m also attempting to create a believable sixteen year old girl for a new story line. How are the two related?
I’m fifty years removed from being sixteen. And I had no children. How can I recall what it looked and felt like to be sixteen, and then reconstruct that to reflect a 21st century version? It was so long ago, I don’t trust my memory of my inside self in those days, nor do I have any idea if the core feelings of a sixteen year old in 1966 are remotely similar to a sixteen year old today.
Moving always involves sorting and packing. As I was sorting through boxes that have remain packed since our last move, my goal was to purge and consolidate. That required going through all of the contents of the “persistently-packed” boxes. What did I come upon but a journal I kept at the ripe young age of sixteen!
My first thought after skimming the first few pages (AFTER congratulating myself for never throwing anything out) was “Holy Crap! Was I really ever that schmaltzy and self-centered?”
Once I admitted to myself that the proof was in the print (or rather, neat script), I moved on to wondering: do sixteen year old girls still think like this?
“Happiness is having parents who don’t compare the boys you go out with and tear apart the one you like most.”
“Misery is spending only five minutes in the bathtub with my favorite magazine before dropping it in the water.”
“Happiness is understanding your physics homework and passing the next test.”
“Misery is coming home from school, seeing your mother has cleaned your room–and found your journal.”
Heard enough yet? I could go on with my sixteen-year-old self’s quotes from Longfellow and Tennyson and Shelly – who remembered I was so into poetry in those days? And my favorite: “O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circled orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable…” Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene 2. I was so deeply, madly in love.
I sort of miss that girl, now that I’ve had a glimpse of her again. She was so immersed in feelings and so much more artsy than I was through most of my adult years, after I was brainwashed into believing I couldn’t make a living with writing. Is it possible to reincarnate her in a 21st century version?
My point is, having little or nothing to do with teenage girls since my own teen years which were, admittedly, half a century ago, I haven’t a clue how much has changed in the core of sixteen year old girls today. I can see the external changes, of course – the smartphones that are an extension of their limbs, and the piercings and tattoos, the clothes (sorry to say this, but even the “trashy girls” in my day didn’t expose so much of their midriffs and tushes and breasts). But who is the real girl inside the exterior?
I know some of my FB friends are very young – if not in their teens, then close enough to remember what it felt like. And I’m guessing the same of my blog followers. So I’m asking for your help:
Please share with me what it is like to be sixteen in the twenty-first century.