Most of my poetry up to this point has questions my identity. Who am I? Who do I want to be? Why am I in pain and what do I need to relieve myself from suffering? Those poems were mostly from my late middle school years. The last couple, including the one below, come from my freshman year of high school.
This was a new experience to me. There was a lot of fear associated with going from a Catholic school, where my entire grade was made up of about 20 kids, to high school, where my class size bloated to more than 140. My world had changed with the influx of people, but that wasn’t where I felt the most influence.
I felt like my parents suddenly suspected me more. All of a sudden, there were discussions about what I was mature enough to handle. There were drugs and sex and alcohol. I wonder if my parents feared I would be tainted or something.
The reality is, I probably blew it all out of proportion. That didn’t prevent me from feeling hurt at their seemingly sudden suspicion. It is from that center of pain that I believe this poem was written.
This poem was written on August 16th, 2004. I was 14-years-old and a freshman in high school.
Angry At Nothing
Angry at nothing
It must be that attitude
that teenage thing
No, I don’t think the world circles ’round me
But yes… I don’t give a damn what you say
Your yells are so loud
I can’t hear my heart
What’s it saying, which way do I go
Yells too loud
I’m angry at nothing
The world will not stop
So I block it out
I block you out
to listen in
What I feel I have yet to learn
I hear more now
I understand a little more
I have stopped listening
to hear myself
Maybe someday I will be happy
I’m angry at nothing
There is another side to this poem that whispers in the background. At the time, I couldn’t hear. Upon revisiting, it almost seems louder than my own words. I can hear the whispers of my parents’ fear. Some of it may have been related to my transition to a public school system. More than anything else, though, I think they were afraid of how fast I would grow up. They knew what high school was like. I wouldn’t make it through my first year without learning who could supply me with drugs and all male attention having sex could bring.
I don’t think any parent is 100% confident in their child rearing techniques. Back then, I was be taken aback. Who do they think I am, I thought. They thought I was their only daughter and they worried if what they had taught me would be enough to keep me safe through high school. What came off as suspicious to me was just concern on their part.
If I could go back and discuss this poem with my 14-year-old self, I would tell her she was right on the money with the first few lines. It is a teenage thing. It’s a teenage thing to feel like you’re ready to be an adult and to be frustrated when you’re not treated with that level of respect. I think the reasons teenagers so often feel this way is because they have gotten so close. Those mid to late teenager years are when we really discover ourselves, if we choose. Those years are when we stop doing what everyone tells us and start considering what our own morals and values are.
I was angry, because I was trying to figure out who I was while my parents were working to preserve their values in the girl they raised. I think that may be the true cause behind the tumultuous teenage years. Those years mark a time where we are finally starting to understand a part of ourselves that may not match up with the morals and values imposed on us. That’s just a part of growing up. It’s not about being evil, lost or immoral. It’s a confusing time where, among all the peer pressure and college applications, we try to define who we are and what values mean the most to us.
What caused arguments with your parents when you were a teenager? Did you ever feel angry or hurt without understanding why? How did you deal with those negative feelings? Do you think this anger and confusion is a natural part of being a teenager?