Dear Teenage Self,
I have been thinking about you a lot lately and I wanted to tell you how happy I am that you got to be you in all your teenaged glory in the 1990’s. I’d feel really stressed for you if you had to be a teen today, because let me tell you, it’s not easy.
High school was amazing wasn’t it?
As your adult self, I like to remind teenagers today not to take their high school years for granted, because you can’t ever get those days back.
Now there are so many families who send their children to school with fear in their minds and hearts. Many communities live in fear of violence and attacks on their schools and community centres. I am so happy your high school experience was completed in safety.
You must remember the first time you got a cell phone? Wasn’t that exciting? You know what else must have been fun? Checking in for your voicemails. Getting your own phone line, and a phone in your room. How cool was that? And those days when you were waiting for the boy to call, and you were out, dialling in to check those messages with excitement in your heart and butterflies in your stomach. Or how about the late nights you spent on the phone with your latest crush, maybe even falling asleep with the phone at your ear. You must have had some great conversations, in real time.
Most people today, including teens, don’t ever use their phones to talk.
Texting is the main vessel for conversation and can you imagine not even knowing your best friend’s phone number by heart? And how about all those notes you passed in high school. Thank you for remembering to keep them in a box, it’s so great reading them and getting lost in the high school memories. I love having tangible reminders of things from the past.
You are so lucky to have spent such good quality time with your friends. Every day after school racing home to watch General Hospital, or taking the 206 to Fairview Shopping Centre where the $3.99 poutine and drink deal was irresistible. Do you think mom and dad would have been down with a $20 salad from a fancy salad place?? (Trust me, everyone is doing it now.) Sitting around playing Bullshit or waiting for your favourite song to come on the radio so you could hit the record button on your stereo.
It seems to me that you were free of many pressures that teens are feeling today. You ate freely, you were not concerned about what your body looked like and you wanted to get out there and have fun.
Your early days of riding your bike around the neighbourhood with friends and going to see movies with 15 other kids was amazing. There was even a club created for under age kids where you could go out on a Saturday night and dance! You got to go to Club Buzz for a little while there, and trust me when I tell you, you will laugh about it for years to come.
Let’s talk fashion. I’ll tell you now, your fashion sense will get a lot better in your thirties. Mom took you to the mall stores to shop. They were reasonably priced and easily accessible. I loved your jam though; Smart Set, Dalmy’s, Jacob, and in the earlier days, Au Cotton and Boca. Thank you for hanging on to that one last pair of white slouchy socks from Au Cotton all these years. I still wear them and love them to death. There were a few items you were set on though and I’m so glad you stood your ground for an authentic pair of Doc Martens (I know, Mom wanted to buy you the fake pair)- now that is an item I wish you had kept!
Living in the suburbs your whole life, it must have been really cool when you and your friends started driving. Your shopping experiences started to get a little more interesting, buying those too tight-for-your-particular-shape Tees from Space fb. But then again….everyone was wearing them. I want to congratulate you though, because you did a pretty good job of sticking to your own style. I now know it’s because you were just so happy being you that fashion wasn’t all that important – but also, you probably just didn’t know any better. Girls these days have gone mad, making sure they have what everyone else has at all times. And body parts have become less private and more public if you know what I mean.
Knowing the kind of makeup junkie you were growing into, you wouldn’t even believe this store they have now called Sephora. It’s a far cry from the lipstick section at Cumberland’s. All that time you spent watching Mom apply her makeup, begging her to let you use it. You wouldn’t even have to do that now because on the Internet, there are thousands of girls just like you making videos, showing you how to put on every kind of product imaginable.
All I can tell you is that sometimes, I wish I could be you again. Even if it’s just for 24 hours. Although you might not have thought so, life was simpler then.
The world had less expectations of you. You had enough hours in the day to see your family, talk to your friends and focus on your studies, without so many technological distractions and cyber social interactions. Your private time was yours and there was no need to tell anyone what you were doing on your own time. The element of surprise was still there. What you and your best friend ended up wearing to the party, who showed up, going shopping to just browse and see what was out there. You had it good girl and I am so happy for you. So, it will come as no surprise that you won’t have your own teenage daughter to tell your tales of hanging out at the park and pigging out on McDonalds and junk food, but I’m sure you can round up some fun details to tell your boys because by the time they are teens, who knows what sort of personal interaction will be left for them.
My advice to you for the future is to encourage your kids to lift their heads, be kind in person and in text, play a board game, remember a phone number and don’t take life too seriously. because no matter what gets in the way, they will always be loved.
By Sidra Rubin