Derek was fascinated by my adolescent journal. He began reading it out of curiosity, and kept reading out of compulsion. After a few pages, he said he had no idea teenage girls were like that, that he has been completely oblivious to other people’s feelings all these years, and he wishes he’d known when he was a teenager, so he could say things that would make people understand their own worth.

When I started this particular journal, I was 11 years old. I wrote about things that concerned me: being ugly, being rude, boys, which school I would go to the next year, guppies, best friends, wearing makeup and pantyhose, music, and my family. I had no idea at the time that my writings would provide such a window into my soul. I was fairly certain that no-one would ever read what I wrote, so I was uninhibited. As a result, my teen-age self consciousness shines through like a lighthouse on a foggy night.

I can’t speak for all teenage girls, but I know many went through the same things I did: feelings of inadequacy, especially when compared to friends, or those who I wished were my friends, desire to be recognized by authority figures such as parents and teachers, conflicting emotions about physical change, feeling invisible, feeling misunderstood.

I wrote down every compliment I received. Everything my parents said to me, every time a friend told me a boy “liked” me, every time a teacher praised my work. It’s like I was trying to convince myself that I was worthy of that praise, or that I was sure I wasn’t worthy and wanted to explain why it could never be.

Other people have feelings like I do, I know I’m not the only one. Yes, I still feel those exact same things now, only it’s about whose kids are better behaved than mine, who is a mom of 5 kids and still always looks like she just stepped out of a salon, who is teaching literacy to the underprivileged, who has a clean house, who home-schools and still likes her kids, who is famous for her awesome blog because she’s so witty and poignant at the same time as being a great writer, who has a PhD and teaches and goes to Europe every summer, who sews millions of original stuffed animals,who never loses her temper with her kids, who plants a giant garden and keeps chickens and goats in the back yard, who runs marathons every year, who takes her kids to museums and planetariums and parks, who spins her own yarn and knits up beautiful sweaters from it, who lost all the baby weight after 3 months and is now smaller than she was before, who reads scripture and prays with her family every day, who decorates her home with things she finds at the thrift store, but makes it look like she spent many hours an lots of money at antique shops.

I know I’m not the only one who does this. I know it doesn’t end when you become an adult.