I was teenager once. It was awkward.
I was pretty run of the mill. Unfortunately the mill that year was cranking out knobby kneed, gangly armed, pimply faced manboys who, despite devoting every waking moment to the art of faking cool, squawked like a chicken every time we laughed. I was (like all of my counterparts of the same patent) a strange and confusing chemical mix of misguided uber confidence and confusingly low self esteem. In my head I was some combination of Michael Jordan* (athletically speaking) and Arthur Fonzarelli* (with the ladies). In Actual World I regularly tripped over the free throw line and let’s just say that went much better than it ever did with the ladies.
*links to MJ and the Fonz included for younger readers.
They called me Jerry Jones chicken bones and my strongest comeback was . . . “I know you are but what am I?!” I remember holding my breath with high hopes of squeezing out a chest hair. I got three new pimples that night.
It was a strange and surreal time. Confusing. Painful. Weird.
You couldn’t pay me a bajillion dollars to go back and do it all again . . . and yet . . . here I am — weeks away from yet another international move and I’m flashing back.
Transition is like puberty . . . in so many ways. If you’re in the middle of it maybe you can relate.
Here are my symptoms:
1. Mood Swings
I’m sprinting the gamut between high highs and low lows. I’m finding that as we move closer to yet another massive life transition I can (multiple times in one day) make the jump between feeling like Tigger with a cup half full and Eeeyore who doesn’t even see the point of cups . . . or water . . . or being awake.
Between the visa applications, the doctor visits, the downsizing, the packing, the intentional eye contact goodbyes and the fact that time itself is moving much too fast and much too slow simultaneously . . . yeah . . . transition makes me irritable.
Is there a problem with that or could we please just move on to number 2 like a normal blog?!
I am scattered to say the least. My brain is all over the place and no matter what I’m thinking about I have a secondary nagging thought that there is probably something else that I’m forgetting to think about.
This nonsense ironically made perfect sense when I was 12 and could blame it all on hormones and girls.
I have no good excuses now. My brain is just full . . . and consequently funky.
In the context of our chaos, when meal time comes, I am pathetically unmotivated to make wise decisions about food . . . so I make stupid ones. I also have little ambition towards cleaning up afterwards considering the fact that clutter is the bain of our transition right now.
The simpler the better.
Somehow eating uber-hydrogenated cheesy puff munches out of a plastic bag or feeding my family with a sack of double cheeseburgers feels less daunting and just easier. I’m even inclined to try convincing my wife that $5 pizzas are a better choice than a home cooked meal . . . every day.
I’m flashing back to age 14 when my stomach was a bottomless pit and my metabolism burned calories before they even went in my mouth.
This is no longer the case.
Stop judging me.
4. Fighting with people I don’t disagree with
One thing I remember, very distinctly, from my adolescent years is that everyone who lived in my house was wrong . . . about everything . . . always.
It didn’t much matter what the topic was or where they landed on it. If they said it, I disagreed . . . wholeheartedly . . . and even if they changed their position to agree with me one hundred percent . . . I still disagreed.
Recently I’m finding myself (once again) prone to taking the alternative stance even when there is no good reason to do so. When everything around is a chaotic whirlwind it’s easy to forget that the people in my boat are not actually trying to sink me.
I talk to a lot of people in transition so at least I know that high tension and pointless arguments are par for the course. Unfortunately knowing it hasn’t given us immunity.
It helps to call it out though . . . we’re on the same team.
I was a part of the generation who discovered that there is no limit to the hours a teenager will spend playing video games or watching TV. We were hard core. Kids these days have no idea.
We numbed our brains into the wee hours of the morning long before PS4 and Netflix. We were trailblazers. Ground breakers. When we ran out of lives we started all over from the beginning of the game. When we rented a movie we had to leave the house. Our playlists were called mix tapes and they took days to get just right. When we sent a text message there was paper involved. And stamps. The licky kind.
It was a tougher time.
Times of transition (much like the formative years) present an often overwhelming temptation to disconnect from a stressful reality. Now more than ever, the digital options that enable unhooking from real life are without boundaries.
Let’s just say it takes longer to write a blog post while you’re binge watching 90’s sitcoms.
I get it now — why my parents feared for my generation.
6. My ears are broke
My wife tells me this is true and I really have no strong argument to prove otherwise. I can look straight at you. Make eye contact. Nod like I am absorbing every word. Even respond with noises that make total sense in conjunction with what you have just said . . . and immediately have ZERO recollection that the conversation ever happened.
I can ask you a question and you can give me a clear, concise, perfectly constructed answer. I will make a purposeful, cognizant effort to register that data and store it in my brain . . . and three minutes later I will ask you the exact same question again.
I am either regressing to my teens or fast forwarding to my 90’s.
Either way . . . what were we talking about?
I am so, so tired . . . and yet never so much that I can sleep well. It’s a vicious cycle.
8. Weird things are happening to me
I’ve been having regular headaches and tiny little anxiety attacks. That’s not like me. I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. I’ve learned that I can increase my heart rate at will just by thinking about the next few weeks and I have regular dejavu.
I’ve also learned that I can increase my heart rate at will just by thinking about the next few weeks and I have regular dejavu.
Seriously. Is there not a pamphlet for this? With charts and graphs and awkward diagrams. At least when I was sixteen my mother gave me a book called, “So You’re Turning Twelve.”
(pausing to let that sink in)
There is hope
Whiny as I may be, the silver linings are not absent here — in fact they are multiple. The change of life (I mean the big one years ago) was not entirely horrible. It was certainly filled with paradox and there were challenges that I would never want to relive however, between the knobby kneed bumbling and the hormone driven awkardness . . . it was a rich, wonderful time.
I was surrounded by great people who poured into my shaky life. I probably laughed harder and more often than I have since. I was impressionable (although I tried my hardest not to be). I was formed during that time and my life (the grown up one) has been better because of it.
And the best part . . . it didn’t last forever.
The awkward development years served as a beautiful gateway between two wonderful stages of my life.
I expect that this transition will be the same.
How about you? Anyone else out there in transition and feeling 13 again? Or is it just me?