My Teenage Angst Renaissance

I feel like I’m 16 and grounded.

Something about being locked inside with no physical, social contact for weeks at a time really takes me back to my teen years. It’s not so much the fact that I’m not going out to see friends, but the fact that I’m not allowed to go out that’s giving me the teen-angst de ja vu. I am the misbehaving kid, and the CDC is the strict parent: no friends until I’ve thought about what I’ve done and learned by lesson.

My high school experience was similar to the quarantine.

As a teenager living in a semi-rural community I didn’t have friends nearby. My primary friend-group lived in various small towns peppered across the county. Unless you had access to a car (which few did, since we were all broke) you didn’t see each other much on weekends. There was no mall, only 1 bowling alley, and a really crappy movie theatre that none of us could afford to go to regularly. We couldn’t, and didn’t go out much. Our friendships were conducted at school, on rare occasions someone could get a car, and through texts and social media. Basically, my high school experiences have been great training for this pandemic.

The valley of the uncanny bring back old habits.

I feel as if I’ve gone back in time to 2010. I am 16 years old, stuck at home with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Without going into work and living my more “adult” life of dates, girl’s nights, and dinner parties, I find myself reverting to my old teen habits. I’m binge reading some of my favorite fantasy and genre novels, and watching TV shows I haven’t seen in years. I’m listening to my old high-school teen angst playlists and revealing in the misery those old songs drag up. This weekend I even drove out to one of of the old, deserted, dessert highways we used to speed down to feel free. It’s been a nostalgic few weeks.

All this nostalgia brings back memories.

Like any old photograph or song from the past, these old habits bring back memories. Some are good, some are bad, and some are a mixed bag. This time of year has a few special dates, like anniversaries, birthdays, and even death days that serve as ghosts of times gone by. Many recollections have been tinted rosy or blue by the passage of time.  I find myself thinking about how big a difference 10 years makes, and wonder what another decade will do.

The teenage angst still remains.

As I sit in an apartment 16-year-old me couldn’t imagine, working a job that my teenage self never fathomed, and living a life my younger self would envy, it’s easy to think that I’m not the same person I was back then. Then, I hit “play” on my old, beat-up Ipod Classic and listen to the heavy metal playlist I compiled then and realize the lyrics hit the same as they did back then. The pain has new meaning, and new layers, but the initial spark and connection is still there. I am still my teenage self, both suffer through and enjoying a teen angst renaissance.


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