Things To Do While Still In High School #1 – Own the Angst

While everyone else was out drinking, getting high, or, you know, going on dates with actual girls, I was doing this, with apologies in advance to any Depeche Mode fans:

Can you feel the angst? It drips from the ceiling. The story behind this video is not the point (it’s a good story, maybe for later). The point is, you should do this.

I don’t necessarily mean making an angst-ridden video, although I know that happens a lot on YouTube and elsewhere. (Here, I was going to post an example YouTube video, but I got too depressed reading the comments people were leaving. The shit people feel free to say online drives me insane, hence my novel RANDOM, which is inspired by real events and by events you probably have experienced yourself, statistically speaking.)

The reality is adolescent brains are cooking on overtime. You probably know that much. That’s not an excuse to do stupid or dangerous things. Don’t drink and drive, for example. Don’t get pregnant or get anyone pregnant (just trust me on that one, okay? You’ll be glad later if you dodge that).

But while I’m a huge proponent of #stayhere and not doing things your body or mind can’t recover from, I also believe you should be yourself, and experience everything there is to experience right now. Angst is good.  It can be harmful, but it can also be a lot of fun. It’s like, on the one hand, people are always telling you to grow up, and that’s fair; this is your origin story. The decisions you make today will reverb down through the rest of your life. They will. I promise, they will. Good and bad ones, they’ll stick with you. So make good ones.

But on the other hand, don’t grow up too fast, either. See, the other side of this “grow up” mentality that most so-called grown-ups won’t tell you is that this is when you should fail. You should reach for the sky and get knocked down. It’s so much better to do that now than in your twenties, and better in your twenties than your thirties, and so on. (We’ll talk about your twenties some other time. That’s a whole other mess.)

I’m not saying to be irresponsible. On the contrary, you should be exceptionally responsible, because that’ll pay off later. But go up and ask that guy that out! Ask that girl out! Go on adventures. Stay up till the sun rises once in a while. Confide your secrets. Give your heart to someone, and then survive when he or she tosses it casually into a woodchipper. Which he or she will inevitably do.

And when everything goes wrong, make an angsty music video.

Then go dance, sing, lip-synch, whatever. This is your time. Own it. Yes, be careful…but own it all the same. Life will settle down soon enough. Sooner than you can imagine. Don’t rush for it.

Maybe I’m telling you stuff you already know, in which case—good! I’m glad you’re out there kicking metaphorical ass and having a great time.

But if you didn’t know this, if you didn’t realize that this was your time to both shine and suffer, then I encourage you to try both. I’m not advising you this because I regret not doing it myself—I’m advising you this way because I did. We lived up every second of high school, good and bad, diving deep into whatever the moment brought. I got hurt. I hurt others. I regret the second one, but not the first.

I don’t write YA because I didn’t have a great time; I write YA because I did. And I want you to. All of you. All of us.

Anyway. Sermon over. Have a great weekend, huh?

And, P.S. Just in case any friends want to leave snarky comments, remember – I have your videos too. Don’t push me, man. Don’t push me.

 Take care, stay here, say words.

~ Tom


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