A tribute to Jean Val-Jean, this post is about discovering identity as a person.
I dyed my hair purple. The grownups knew it was coming: I’m a teenage girl. I have started to truly unleash my own style and knowledge what I am expressing through it. The ultimate test of teenager-hood: are you beginning to express yourself? My dear friend Raven (The World is Ugly But You’re Beautiful to Me) and I were having a conversation a few days ago that went something like this:
Me: Tokyo in tulsa looks fun, ‘cept for the cosplay
Raven: oh come on. there is nothing wrong with cosplay! besides, i can very subtly dress you up as like some one from a meca or something.
Me: ahem, just one minue, and I will tell you what’s wrong with cosplay. *inhales* Little Mermaid, Toga, Flower Crown. brushing out steampunk hairspray, and eyeliner stains.
Raven: STOP YER COMPLAINING AND JUST HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF FREEDOM BEFORE YOU ARE TIED DOWN WITH A JOB AND COLLAGE! THESE ARE YOUR PRIME YEARS! MAKE SOME MISTAKES! DO SOME THING OUTRAGOUS! GO TO CONS AND CONVENTIONS AND SEE MOVIES AND GO TO CONCERTS AND JUST LIVE YOUR LIFE NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!.
Me: got to go study for the ACT. See ya later, k?
If you check out Raven’s blog, linked above, you will find loads of her thoughts on self expression, a thing that she does very well. For instance, she has electric blue streaks in her long red hair.
In order to express your self, in my opinion, requires them to let go of what others think about you, you can’t be held back by people trying to tell you who you are, what you are, and what you’re going to be.
The point I am getting at (inefficiently, because I’m tired, but all the same,) is that teenagers need to express themselves in one way or another. I do it in a lot of different ways: I consider myself an artist, a musician, a writer, and a friend, and through all these things, I try to let a little bit of me shine through. I express myself in my drawing and painting, emotions and passion smeared all over the canvas. I express myself in my music, turning the song into more than a song, letting the music ring within me and my emotion flying out with it. I express myself through my writing, my characters reflecting not only those around me, but myself and my struggles. A dear writing mentor of mine once told me, and I paraphrase, that a piece of the writer is left within the work, and that it is a hard thing to hand that work over to another person and say, “here, read my soul.” I discuss this extensively in A Grown Up Reads My Book: A Story of Heart Attacks and Other Ailments Resulting From High Strung Nervousness. Last, but not least, I express myself to my friends simply by putting every effort into pouring every last ounce of energy into loving them. Often a person’s love is the thing that really allows you to see them; it pulls aside the veil if you will. I like to believe that love is what makes us human.
Personal and non-generic self-expression aside, just about every teenager goes through a rebellious phase: exhibit A…my purple hair. I actually had to promise my Dad that I did not have any desire for a tattoo the other day when he saw a few inked up young people and came to the realization that his soon sixteen-year-old daughter, Yours Truly, would legally be old enough to get one. Other rather generic things I have done include beginning to dress a little bit differently, and really starting to discover what kind of clothes I like. Let us not even start on my homage to my Gypsy heritage: large hoop earrings.
The whole point of this post is honestly a matter of me organizing my own thoughts regarding my sudden jolt of self expression, and trying to convince myself that it is okay. I have many friends younger than myself, and certain ones became rather offended when first came the haircut and then came the dye. My particular enjoyment of wearing big earrings is also disapproved of, and I find myself stuck between taking more drastic measures to convince this particular friend that I am free to express myself, and simply going back to my old norm to avoid conflict with her. I take solace only in the fact that in a brief span of time, this twelve-year-old girl may feel a tiny itch to do something…rebellious. 😉
Feedback is appreciated as always my friends! *cuing triumphant fanfare of the teenage rebellion anthem, “Do You Hear the People Sing”*