5 Teenage Love Lessons That Are Still True Now
Whether you were the high school weirdo who held on to her virginity well after graduation day or the well-experienced upperclassman schooling all of the freshmen about sex, I bet that high school gave you access to some kernels of wisdom about love and relationships.
I've always felt that the combination of swimming in a hormonal soup, teenage angst, and the last traces of childhood make 13- to 18-year-olds some of the wisest creatures on the planet. It's just too bad that feelings aren't seen as a superhero strength.
Even now, you probably still have access to that teenager deep inside. And she probably has some lessons about love that she can give you, too. Here are mine:
1. Your Friends Are Probably Right
When I was 16, my best friend met me in the second-floor bathroom after history class, took me by the upper arms, and gave me a good shake.
"He doesn't make you happy!" she hissed at me. "You're clutching your stomach all the time and so worried, you can't think!"
It was true that the senior I was seeing made me nervous, but wasn't I supposed to be feeling butterflies in my stomach the whole time? According to my best friend, no. This was beyond butterflies. This was an anxiety emergency.
She was right, of course. I was too eager for an older boy's attention and thought that whatever he thought about me was true.
But I didn't listen to her. At the time, it seemed impossible that she could know something about my feelings that I didn't know.
For the next three relationships, my friends would be able to see something wrong that I couldn't see. Every time, I didn't listen.
They were usually gracious enough not to say "I told you so." But that didn't mean I forgot their words when it was over.
2. Nobody Else Will Be As Interested As You
Every time I catch the feels, I think that there is no one as fascinating as the person of my affections. And every time I catch the feels, I end up boring everyone.
That first time you have a serious crush... you know how you always find some way of bringing the conversation back to them?
Yeah, that never goes away. It also never stops driving your friends crazy.
As somebody who really only had one major crush in high school, I wasn't usually the one who was going on and on about anybody. I was usually the friend who had to listen to my other friend go over the details of their text exchange in T9 word.
During sleepovers, I was also the friend who would sit next to her at the computer, coaching her on what AIM message would give that perfect combination of flirtatious, but still cool and aloof.
Since I was always the friend, I was surprised when I fell in love during college and started doing exactly the same thing.
By then, I had developed a few coping mechanisms that I still use today. See below.
3. Journal Your Way Through Your Feels
I was a weirdo in high school — a country kid who somehow ended up bussed to a suburban school. I had maybe, maybe three friends over the course of four years.
Besides the fiasco with a senior my sophomore year -- and was that ever the talk of the 10th grade -- I never really had a reciprocated crush.
One might say that my love experience was a bit stunted, even for that age, but I had plenty of observations about love that I kept to myself.
While much of my love as a teen might not have been reciprocated, I still had a lot of it. The rumor mill at my school was vicious, though, so I kept most of it to myself.
I learned that the safest place to put my feelings was in a notebook that I put under a pillow at night. There, I could record all the feelings I was sorting through, the crushes I had on classmates of both genders, my worries that I was gay.
I could confess about hooking up with a friend during a sleepover at her house, and I didn't have to worry about anyone else telling me what it might mean. In my journal, I could make that meaning for myself.
And, unlike at school, I wouldn't have to worry about whether I was saying too much or too little. I could devote pages and pages to my crush if I wanted to, or say nothing at all. There wasn't anyone to pester me for gossip.
Even though I shed my shyness when I got my cap and gown, I still keep a journal to document how I feel, partly because I want something to look back on, in case I forget.
Mostly, though, I use it to keep figuring myself out.
4. Playlists Are The Best Love Letters
I think it was pretty common knowledge in high school that a well-constructed mix CD could contain coded love notes as intricate as a cryptogram sent by carrier pigeon during World War II.
My friends and I would spend hours arranging songs in the perfect order to give to one another and our boyfriends, if we had them. I remember agonizing over iTunes, listening to make sure that the end of one song smoothly transitioned into the next.
The songs I chose always meant something, and they were usually strong declarations of passion and proclamations of the desire to have sex. The genius was that if somebody questioned me, and I got embarrassed, I could easily deny my true intentions and just say it was only a song.
Even today, I still can get engrossed for hours arranging the perfect playlist for every occasion -- not only about love, but breakups, new jobs, and relocating, too.
Each one has the perfect arrangement and songs with specific lyrics to convey my feelings, too.
And they still often go over peoples' heads.
5. Car Rides Are A Sacred Space For Feelings
Love as a teen means that it's hard to be without supervision, which is hard for young love that craves to be alone.
Sophomore year, when people started getting their drivers' licenses, I learned that an aimless drive was the best occasion to be honest with each other.
When we were in the car and by ourselves, that senior and I could say whatever we wanted without our parents or our classmates overhearing.
If my memory serves me correctly, we shared a lot of things in that car that we probably wouldn't have felt secure saying anywhere else. We talked about everything: our parents, music and movies, books.
My friends and I liked to talk in cars, too, and even now, taking road trips is my absolutely favorite thing to do when I am in love. I've even taken car trips to West Virginia in the middle of the night, just to get something off of my chest.
I admit it isn't the best thing for gas consumption. But sometimes, a girl just needs to feel 16 again.