I don’t know why there’s such a generational divide between parents and children. Why is it normal for teenagers to rebel against parents/authority, to be depressed and to feel misunderstood? Is there seriously some biological reason, or is it our society which promotes this?
In the moment, it seems crazy. Nothing made me angrier as a teenager than to have my ideas, passions and feelings shoved aside as ‘typical teen angst.’ Some of the activities I felt most passionate about were seen as ‘just a phase.’ Given the words of the poem below, it was probably written during some kind of fight with my parents.
Written on January 22, 2005, I was a freshman in high school when I wrote this poem.
They will never understand,
The depths of my mind.
I can never let them see,
The part of me I hide deep inside.
They refuse to listen,
and the refuse to hear.
I try to show them a part of me.
They don’t see it.
To them, it’s not even there.
How can I leave behind,
Something that’s a part of my life?
How can I find a truth within myself,
If you refuse to understand?
How can you truly know,
if you refuse to lend a hand?
Open your eyes and open your ears.
Use them; Can’t you see, can’t you hear?
Do you see me shut my door?
Do you hear the music pounding through?
No, this isn’t just entertainment.
It’s not just a place.
This is who I am.
This is how I feel.
These are the words I need when I can’t stand you.
Still, you refuse to listen.
Still, you refuse to open your eyes.
And this is why the fire of hate,
Still it burns, it never dies.
Well, that took an angry turn, didn’t it?
I can follow my thought process throughout this poem. In a way, a lot of the ideas here are still within me today. The things that motivated my creativity as a child are nearly the same as today. The books and manga I read, the shows and anime I watch and the video games I play all mold together to inspire my ideas. Reading books was the only activity in that list that was praised by my parents. At one point or another, all those other activities were downgraded to a phase I would grow out of.
This inspirations moved my writing forward. They made me curious about other counties and cultures. Eventually, they would help me choose my college majors and set me on my career path. I would literally not be who I am today without their influence.
I don’t fault my parents for finding those activities childish. They and every other adult to this day seem to have that view. Yet, for me, their ideas about these interests caused me to doubt their support for my passions. I wasn’t sure if they would support my writing or my poetry. If inspired by something they thought was childish, will they think those my creations are childish, too? What about my ideas about how the world works, about society or about my future? Were those childish? Of course, I was only 14, so maybe everything was seen as childish because I was a child. Seems like a poor excuse to me. I needed someone to believe in me. I had a handful of teachers who were very excited about my interests. Clearly it was possible for an adult to acknowledge the value of my interests.
This divide between my parents and my teenage self was likely as much my own fault as my parents, especially as high school continued. For better or worse, I felt the need to hide ideas and dreams from my parents, knowing they wouldn’t understand. That idea is in this poem as well. I don’t want to hide. I want to be just who I am and be accepted. Eventually, I gave up on that prospect, opting to hide anything I thought my parents might have any problem with.
Nothing drove the need to hide myself more than the period of time I spent avoiding communication with my father. I’ve mentioned how my father and I wet through a period where we could only talk to each other through my mother. It wasn’t that we were trying to be mean or didn’t like each other. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t speak without angering or offending the other. The solution, on my end, was to just avoid certain topics. This is something I do to this day.
Sometimes, it’s terrifying. I don’t dare talk to my parents about religion, because I will just make them angry or disappointed. I don’t dare discuss the prospects of moving in with my boyfriend, because all I’ll get is anger and judgement. There are things I do talk about, but with great hesitation, like traveling the world or writing my book. I know they’ll be supportive of the ideas, but only if they don’t know the specifics.
Did you grow up feeling like your parents didn’t understand? Is this actually normal? Do you think teen angst is something biological, or is it something instigated by our society? Is it possible to create a new normal, where parents and teenagers get along? What do you think needs to happen for such a reality to exist?