Iasmina Crăveanu, XI A
There is, perhaps, for all concerned, no period of life so bewildering, so unstable (swinging between moods), and so downright confusing as that of adolescence.
Problems of physical beauty, grave though they are, are not at all that beset the unwary teen. Philosophical, spiritual, social - a veritable multitude of difficulties daily confront him. Yet, an elderly one frequently discovers a lack of sympathy for the troubled youth. This shortfall in compassion is undoubtedly due to the teenager’s insistence on dealing with his lot in a boisterous fashion. In power to keep nothing to himself, there is no impulse too fleeting, no sentiment too raw, that one does not feel compelled to share it with those around him.
In 1978, with the “interest of encouraging, if not greater understanding, at least greater decorum” for this specific age group, Fran Lebowitz, the celebrated American author and speaker, published an essay titled “Tips for Teens” that she originally wrote for Newsweek magazine, in which the following were stated:
1. ‘Think before you speak. Read before you think. This will give you something to think about that you didn’t make up yourself–a wise move at any age, but most especially at seventeen, when you are in the greatest danger of coming to annoying conclusions.’
2. ‘If in addition to being physically unattractive you find that you do not get along well with others, do not under any circumstances attempt to alleviate this situation by developing an interesting personality. An interesting personality is, in an adult, insufferable. In a teenager, it is frequently punishable by law.’
3. ‘Wearing dark glasses at the breakfast table is socially acceptable only if you are legally blind or partaking of your morning meal out of doors during a total eclipse of the sun.’
4. ‘Should your political opinions be at extreme variance with those of your parents, keep in mind that while it is indeed your constitutional right to express these sentiments verbally, it is unseemly to do so with your mouth full–particularly when it is full of the oppressor’s standing rib roast.’
5. ‘Try to derive some comfort from the knowledge that if your guidance counselor were working up to his potential, he wouldn’t still be in high school.’
6. ‘The teen years are fraught with any number of hazards, but none so perilous as that which manifests itself as a tendency to consider movies an important art form. If you are presently, or just about to be, of this opinion, perhaps I can spare you years of unbearable pretension by posing this question: If movies (or films, as you are probably now referring to them) were of such a high and serious nature, can you possibly entertain even the slightest notion that they would show them in a place that sold Orange Crush and Jujubes?’
7. ‘It is at this point in your life that you will be giving the greatest amount of time and attention to matters of sex. This not only is acceptable but should, in fact, be encouraged, for this is the last time that sex will be genuinely exciting.’
8. ‘Should you be a teenager blessed with uncommonly good looks, document this state of affairs by taking photographs. It is the only way anyone will ever believe you in years to come.’
Of course, she meant for the examples to be satirical in nature, aiming to induce a state of ease in the readers as well, to make one realize their superficial gravity.
Concurrently, another significantly reassuring reference to the teenage years that comes to mind is of the prolific Romanian writer Mircea Eliade, in one of his ‘waking up to reality’ novels: ‘I think the primary duty of a teenager is to ignore the tragic, to detach from his sentiments of helplessness, pointlessness, of agony and insignificance. Firstly must he live like men and cattle: whatever will be, will be; whatever happens, happens.’ (Return from Heaven, 1934)