Dear teenage years

May 24, 2024, 2:14 a.m.

Dear teenage years,

I am writing to you now because in a few hours I will be 20. I will blink and I will no longer be a teenager. By the time you read this, I’ll have been on this Earth for a little over two decades and your time with me will have concluded. It’s okay though — it was fun.

You encompassed seven years of my life. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 zoomed by. 19 feels like the most impactful yet.

I find it amusing that the older I grew the more uncertain I became of myself. I think part of it comes with reality seeping in. I still consider myself an optimist and maybe a little too idealistic for my own good. These are qualities I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life because I find it important to dream, to be hopeful that things can change. 

I think about all the changes that happened in my life. The biggest one being college. I have never been so far away from my parents, 939 miles to be exact. College has offered my teenage self a lot of freedom and even though I am an adult by law (thank you America), I don’t quite know when I will feel like an adult. 

It’s funny how in the beginning of my teenage years, all I wanted to do was be older, to leave my parents behind and live an independent life. Now, all I want is to be 13 again on Christmas day, curled in my bed wearing my pajamas, with my parents in the next room putting presents underneath the tree, trying to be as quiet as possible.

Things will never be the same, and I thank you for teaching me that this means I have to appreciate every moment, even the bad ones. I miss the physical presence of my parents. I still wish that I could teleport to them whenever my life gets hard or a minor inconvenience strikes. But I can’t.  

The truth is that I will never be able to be with you again, teenage years. This is our last goodbye. It was a joy to spend seven years with you and I want you to know that it’s not you, it’s me. I’m physically growing older.

I will miss you so much. I will miss being a moody 13-year-old who can’t spell “synonym,” an annoying 16-year-old who knows everything about the Marvel Cinematic universe and an insufferable 17-year-old who just got into Stanford. I will miss you, truly. I want you to know that I will always remember your lessons. 

I want to thank you for helping me understand the need for loneliness. I used to hate being on my own, maybe because I was afraid of what I would find about myself, didn’t believe in myself or I thought I was boring. I’m glad to report I’m not.

I want to thank you for teaching me to learn to love myself, for enlightening me on how unique of a person I truly am. My mom always says “tienes que amarte a ti mismo antes de amar a otra persona.” “You have to love yourself before loving someone else.” I know she is right, because she’s my mother and also because it is true. How can I expect anyone to like me, if I don’t even like myself?

As I say goodbye to you, year 19 specifically, I thank you. I thank you for the tears, the late nights, the break-ups, the crushes (aka delusions), the films, the embarrassing moments, the introduction to Nina Simone. Most of all, thank you for the times where the happiness made the struggles worth it. Thank you for my Dad’s hug, the Hunger Games, the Dominican Republic, the Pentagon, Roxane Gay, the high views at McMurtry Building, San Diego, colorful Colorado, Minneapolis and ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”

I’d like to end this goodbye letter by ultimately thanking you for the mistakes that made me realize that life is never that serious. Thank you for setting up a great foundation for my 20’s. Thank you for helping realize that what matters most is Adele, familia and friends.

Ultimately, thank you for showing me that there are people who care about me and that I am actually a really cool person. I think my 20s will be a crescendo, that they will feature everything, of sadness, frustration, anger and failures that will lead to happiness. I hope that it features great movies, health and, most importantly, cake. 



P.S. A mortician once told me that “It doesn’t get easier, but you get stronger.” I think I understand what she’s getting at. 

Anthony Martinez Rosales is the vol. 265 Screen desk editor.

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