To my teen self: on walls and anger
Illustration: Erin McPhee
All you see now are the walls. The tired din of forced high school attendance, of cliques and peer judgement. The limitations and the lack of choice.
Your world is cloaked in unspokens: no one talks about your parent’s mental illness, the yelling at home, the self-harm. Everyone means well, is doing their best, but these years are a big C challenge, with tumultuous changes to navigate, an identity to accept and to craft, and relationships to manoeuvre and to redefine.
I hate to break it to you but it’s going to suck for a while.
And as annoying as these tired old sayings are, what didn’t kill you made you stronger, kid.
Those years that will almost cost you your skin will, down the line, allow you to define the personal as political; will fuel your feminism, your activism; will foster in you the capacity and the desire to be a really solid advocate for youth and for marginalized folk.
The rage, the despair, the confusion, are proof that you’re asking hard questions both of yourself and of this world that you’re having a hard time come to grips with. Again, these rejections of a very shitty status quo will serve you. The anger will make way for understanding, for better framing, and for naming and calling out injustice.
The feeling of these walls all around you—the feeling of being stuck and of having no say—is very real.
But know that you can move outside of those confines. And you will.
Carry that knowledge with you. Because there will be other walls. And the agency you muster now will (with some work) see you through time and again.
Hang in there. Speak out. Find solace in kindred spirits and in writing it all out.
You’ll be okay.
You are okay.