Deprived (A Note to My Teenage Self)

Dear Teenage Self,

Look around you. Listen to the excitement of your peers. They are whispering behind their textbooks, giggling in the corridors, and talking nonstop about the same topic. Boys are nervously approaching girls, whose eyes shine as they anticipate those eight words–words which they have hoped to hear since their freshman year of high school.

“Will you go to the prom with me?”

The Prom! A real, actual ball, where the boys dress like Prince Charming, and every girl gets to be a princess, in colorful gowns and sparkling jewelry and fancy shoes. A magical night of dancing and beauty, celebrating the final days of childhood with music and friends.

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I know, teenage self. No one has asked you. You are so shy about boys, even at the age of sixteen. You are so afraid to shine, to be pretty, to blossom. And so you will feign indifference. You will shrug your shoulders, pretend that the prom is silly. A waste of money. A boring cliché. But inside, you will feel wistful as your peers shop for the perfect dress and agonize over hair styles. On the inside, you can picture yourself wearing a long, floaty dress–purple, or maybe deep blue or red. You would put on shiny satin gloves and glamorous, dangling earrings. A boy would escort you into the ball, and you would dance, dance, dance beneath the twinkling lights. And you would feel like a storybook princess for just one night.

You will never attend the prom, teenage self. No one will invite you, and you will not dare to ask anyone else. You will miss one of the greatest rites of passage of American teenagers. Today, you will convince yourself that you do not care, that it is unimportant. But oh, teenage me…here is what you do not know. One day, twenty years in the future, your 36-year old self will walk past a group of teenagers heading into their prom. She will marvel over the beautiful dresses and sparkling jewelry. She will smile wistfully at the happy, excited faces of these kids, who will be princes and princesses together for just one night before they leave childhood behind forever. And then she will cry as she drives home, thinking about days that she will never get to relive, and missed opportunities, and memories that she was not brave enough to make.

I wish that I could befriend you, teenage self, and give you courage, and teach you to blossom. I would buy you a ticket to the prom, and fasten a corsage on your wrist, and stay by your side as you dance the night away, as every teenage girl deserves to do.

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