Category Archives: Teenage Angst

“Mean” — Taylor Swift

No matter how hard I try, I can’t shake my love of poppy country music. In that spirit, I present to you: Taylor Swift.

I love this tiny little blonde. She’s absolutely adorable and I could eat her up with a side of ranch enjoy her artistic integrity.

The first time I heard “Mean,” I could not stop the tears. Even with the upbeat tempo and her sparkly awesomeness, the lyrics really struck an old chord to which I suppose we all can relate… the pain inflicted by teenage bullies. Although I cannot speak from experience, I’m pretty sure even the most popular kids felt picked on during their teenage years.

But, who wants to talk about those people!? A little vanity never hurt anyone, so let’s talk about ME.

You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me
You have knocked me off my feet again got me feeling like I’m nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard, calling me out when I’m wounded
You, pickin’ on the weaker man

Well, you can take me down with just one single blow
But you don’t know what you don’t know

Someday I’ll be living in a big old city
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

Think back to elementary school… Do you remember that one fat kid everyone made fun of? The one that was the last to be picked in P.E.? The kid that came in last during the mile run and had to use an inhaler daily? The one that tried to fit in to every “group,” but ended up embarrassing themselves? The one that hadn’t figured out how to dress or fix their hair?

Surprise! That was me. As a chubby, freckle face ginger kid with no fashion sense or ability to tame my thick red hair, I was the antithesis of cool.

Did I mention I was VERY aware of it? Yeah, I was pretty miserable.

I did have some friends… and I loved them dearly, but even an army of friends cannot save you from bullies making jokes about you. And what’s worse than the jokes they make in front of you? The ones you’re never meant to hear… but you do.

You, with your switching sides and your walk-by lies and your humiliation
You, have pointed out my flaws again as if I don’t already see them
I’ll walk with my head down trying to block you out ’cause I’ll never impress you
I just wanna feel okay again

I’ll bet you got pushed around, somebody made you cold
But the cycle ends right now ’cause you can’t lead me down that road
And you don’t know what you don’t know

And then there was high school. Ahhhhh, high school. Oh, don’t worry. I lost a little weight and figured out how to use a flat iron, but in exchange I found something far worse. BAND. Mattus can back me up on this one! Not only was I a self-proclaimed “Bando,” I was a freaking drum major for two years. For those of you that have been living under a rock for 100+ years, band geeks are not exactly popular. If anything, we lived in that band room to hide from the harsh reality of those high school hallways. I loved our music and formed some wonderful friendships that I still cherish to this day. Even so, we were still the brunt of many jokes.

And FYI, This one time at band camp DID NOT HELP ONE BIT.

One of the most painful omfg-we’re-actually-that-lame memories came from my senior year. I’ll spare you the gritty details (that’s what I pay my therapist for), but here’s the short version. I was in the orchestra and we played for the senior class during an awards ceremony. After playing our little nerdy hearts out, to my great surprise we got a standing ovation! … or so I thought. I looked into the crowd and saw that a lot of people were just standing so they could stretch after sitting so long. Their claps were sarcastic and the were laughing at us. Laughing AT us. It stung.

At that particular moment, I wanted to either pull a Carrie or have the earth open up and swallow me whole. Neither one happened. I simply got to sit back and soak up the reality of our lameness.

And I can see you years from now in a bar, talking over a football game
With that same big loud opinion but nobody’s listening
Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can’t sing

But all you are is mean
All you are is mean and a liar and pathetic and alone in life
And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

But someday I’ll be living in a big old city
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean, yeah
Someday, I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean

Why you gotta be so mean?

This song reminds us of some simple but important truths. High school (thankfully) does end. We do grow up. Bullies are (and probably always will be) assholes. You should ignore them as much as you can and save the rest for your therapist and/or blog (Voila!). Just keep your chin up because it does get better. A lot better.

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite shows…

The funny thing about growing up is for years and years everyone is desperately afraid to be different in any way and then suddenly, almost overnight, everyone wants to be different… and that’s where we win.” (Mitchell, from Modern Family)

Find more artists like Taylor Swift at Myspace Music.

How Drum and Bass Ruined/Saved My Life


I walked into the dark, sweaty, smoky backroom in Loretta’s where Hazeus towered behind the decks bouncing a tangled mess of dreads to the roll of the ragga drums. It was love at first bass drop! (Insert every Hollywood movie cliché.) My heart skipped a beat, I had goose bumps, time froze…I was head over heels. Up until that moment I was very much into the rave scene but I loved the culture more than anything. House DJs were basically interchangeable to me and like most anything else to a 19-year-old boy, it was only a matter of time before I grew tired of it and moved on to the next “greatest thing ever.”

Drum and Bass was a completely different animal. While trance and house concentrated on simple, repetitive drums used to drive inspirational synth patterns and elevate the crowd into a sense of faux-euphoria, DnB took another approach to move the crowd.  It almost completely threw out all the pretty melodies, sped everything up nearly double time and turned its focus to… drums and bass. (duh!)  It was deep, moody, heavy and inspirational in its own way, and it was exactly what I needed in my life.

I felt empowered, important and privileged to be a part of this movement, as nearly every college kid feels about whatever it is that they are passionate about. Drum and bass quickly engulfed every aspect of my life. Nearly every CD in my car was a DJ mix, nearly every outfit in my closet was completely out-of-place anywhere but a nightclub, and every waking moment was spent thinking about the next party. Within a year the music was everything. “How can I go to class?  Tech Itch is playing tonight.” “Dom and Roland is playing Saturday. I never liked that job anyway.” “Family?  My family is at the party already.” Before I knew it I was a college dropout, unemployed and essentially homeless. I floated through life for half a decade like this and I had never been happier.

All great highs are followed by devastating lows and mine hit like a ton a bricks. I woke up one day to realize that somehow I had enlisted in the military, gotten married and become a father. What? When did I become so utterly normal? Wasn’t I special? I should’ve been someone by now. Why was I not a famous producer/DJ or at least running a record label? That was my path in life, right? I mean, the only thing I ever wanted to be was a rock star as far back as I could remember. While most boys were dreaming about being fighter pilots or firefighters, all I could picture was a stage in my future. But there I was in my mid 20s…aging early, overweight and nursing what had to be an undiagnosed case of clinical depression. I gave Drum and Bass my heart and she gave me nothing in return.

I look back now at that angry, ungrateful “man” with overwhelming embarrassment. If anything I am lucky to be alive, let alone a father to two beautiful children and a husband to a wonderful wife who stuck with me for better or WORSE. I can’t pinpoint the turning point when maturity knocked at my door. I’m just glad that it finally joined the party. It brought with it a peacefulness that I had never felt and a realization that I am anything but normal. I have seen half the world and I am nowhere near the end of my travels. I have never tucked a Hawaiian-style shirt into a pair of bermuda shorts. I have never owned sandals with Velcro straps and most importantly, I do not listen to Nickelback. I can’t be angry at DnB. In fact, I thank her for shaping me into who I am today. I really like this guy.

Drum and Bass, and more recently its offspring Dubstep, is still a huge part of who I am. I exercise to it, I dream to it, I drink to it. It is the soundtrack to a heaving handful of meaningful memories. It’s where I fell in love with the mother of my children and my partner in life. It’s playing as I write this. It will forever be a part of who I am. About a year ago I saw Dieselboy in San Diego and it was nothing short of amazing! After the show, out of nowhere, I actually shed a tear. The next morning it became clear to me that for the first time in a decade, I felt the magic again. I caught the dragon I had spent the last third of my life chasing. The music never left me out to dry and it certainly didn’t owe me anything. It has always been there — growing and evolving with me.

Find more artists like Roni Size at Myspace Music.

“6 Underground” — Sneaker Pimps


There was no way I wasn’t going to go and see The Saint as soon as it was released–I was infatuated with Val Kilmer at the time and 116 minutes of him on the big screen was something I couldn’t bear to miss. Once I heard him slur “I’m your huckleberry” the first time I saw Tombstone, well, I was a goner. So in April 1997, off to Carmike I went to see Val playing a recreated version of Simon Templar.

I can remember that the reviews of The Saint weren’t all that great, but I didn’t care. I really enjoyed watching Val the movie. I used to have a VHS copy and I’ll still watch it once in a while if it happens to be on HBO or OnDemand. I also loved the music that was incorporated into the film, so I bought a copy of the soundtrack shortly after seeing it in the theater.

That CD lived in my car from 1997-1999, and for the last half of my senior year of high school I found myself constantly putting “6 Underground” by the Sneaker Pimps on repeat. I was mesmerized by how the combination of the piano motif (which was sampled from the Goldfinger score), Kelli Dayton‘s sexy vocals and everything else that made up that song sounded just like I felt.

I’ve got a head full of drought, down here…

It isn’t an easy feeling to verbalize, but the word that comes to mind is bored. Not the “wowthereisnothingontvtonight” variety. I’m talking about the “whydoeseverythingfeelsoemptyandpointless” type. Perhaps bored isn’t the word. Hmmm… stifled? Smothered? Trapped? Maybe those are better.

Anyway, that’s how I felt for the last few months of my senior year. I hid it well (I think) but I was damn sick of everything. I was tired of the persona I was wearing: smart, straight-laced, predictable. I wanted to reinvent myself. I wanted to be reckless, mysterious, alluring. I think that’s why the line “I’m open to falling from grace” resonated with me.

If you do a little reading online, you’ll find many interpretations of the “6 Underground” lyrics. Some believe it is about a prostitute. Some believe it is about being in the grips of a drug addiction. Some believe it is about dying.

I’ll be honest: I don’t have a clue as to whether any of those suggested meanings are correct. I guess I never really heard the song as a narrative. I don’t think it tells a story, exactly, but I do think it captures a feeling of dissatisfaction and that was something I could relate to at the time. The words are dark and I liked that, because I was so over being a *good* girl (whatever that means) and I desperately wanted to break out of that role. “6 Underground” was a great place for me to go to process and try to figure out those feelings, strange and frightening as they were. It was a song that was all about wanting to go a different way, to be a different way. Maybe that way wasn’t the *right* way (again, whatever that means), but to me it promised the excitement of new experiences, new people, and a new scene. And, you know, I guess I just really wanted to misbehave.

After graduation and during college, I was finally able to take off my good girl hat–at least some of the time anyway. I was never brave (or stupid?) enough to push the limits as far as I imagined in my high school dreams, but I did have a bit of fun and I escaped it all with minimal damage. I suppose I was lucky since I know that not everyone who makes similar choices comes out okay on the other side. But I did. And it was awesome.

Find more artists like Sneaker Pimps at Myspace Music.

“At Seventeen” — Janis Ian


I don’t remember why I bought the soundtrack to Teaching Mrs. Tingle; I certainly hadn’t yet seen the movie. The disc was probably on sale at Hastings and as I knew of the movie as something daring, risqué and above all, popular, I decided to purchase it. In it, I found my home.

“At Seventeen” was originally performed by Janis Ian, but the soundtrack featured a cover by Tara MacLean. I prefer the original but both women sing with a haunting, ethereal elegance. It’s the lyrics, though, that held—and still hold—me under their spell.

I learned the truth at seventeen

That love was meant for beauty queens

And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles

Who married young and then retired”

This became my anthem. I can still see myself, literally at seventeen, ripped from the relative comfort of my hometown (where, if not exactly universally loved by the boys in my class, I was at least universally known as “that smart girl”) and placed into an overcrowded dorm hall teeming with the impossibly beautiful. To me, they seemed unapproachably perfect, leaders of lives I could only dream. It’s no accident that my Meyers-Briggs score shifted from extrovert to introvert during that first year of college. Faced with other women who appeared so much more confident, happy and special than I, I retreated into my shell. While my roommate partied, I hunched over textbooks and listened to this song on repeat.

“The valentines I never knew

The Friday-night charades of youth

Were spent on one more beautiful

At seventeen I learned the truth”

The rhetorician in me appreciates the antimetabole in lines 1 and 8. It’s a subtler form of repetition than I encounter in current songs (Justin Bieber’s sixty-four—yes, I counted, and you would too if you had to listen to it twice while chaperoning an eighth-grade dance—repetitions of the word “baby” come to mind).

“And those of us with ravaged faces

Lacking in the social graces

Desperately remained at home

Inventing lovers on the phone

Who called to say come dance with me

And murmured vague obscenities

It isn’t all it seems

At seventeen”

It’s easy to look back with nostalgia, isn’t it? Sometimes I long for those days, at seventeen, when the world was wide open, its realities undiscovered, a place where “vague obscenities” were all I knew to imagine because my reality was wholly innocent. This song reminds me that time has dulled the edges of my teenage angst as it has swept away the all-too-real pain, leaving only fond memories behind.

“To those of us who knew the pain

Of valentines that never came

And those whose names were never called

When choosing sides for basketball

It was long ago and far away

The world was younger than today

And dreams were all they gave for free

To ugly-duckling girls like me”

No one in my generation had to experience the first pain. After all, we were required to bring valentines to every member of the class. Remember trying to choose the non-sappy pre-printed messages for the people you simply didn’t know? I do. Besides, I’d have been absolutely grateful if my name hadn’t been called during a basketball game. Still, “The world was younger than today” because I was younger, unacquainted with the paralyzing complexities of life.

“We all play the game

When we dare

To cheat ourselves at solitaire

Inventing lovers on the phone

Repenting other lives unknown

They call and say

Come dance with me

And murmur vague obscenities

At ugly girls like me

At seventeen

At seventeen”

Isn’t that a powerful image? Cheating oneself at a game of solitaire. How utterly fruitless. You still lose, don’t you? But it’s the line “Repenting other lives unknown” that speaks to me now. Countless times, I’ve frantically reviewed every event in my life to try to pinpoint that one moment, that one decision that would have changed everything. Maybe, if I’d done it differently, I’d have become a completely different person—thinner, perhaps; happier; deserving of (and possessing) love . . .

In a little over four months, I’ll be twenty-seven. And ten years later, I’ll admit that this song still speaks to me. After all, I am single, and not exactly by choice. I miss myself at seventeen—the innocence, the earnest desire to help others, the hunger for new experiences. To me, this song is about embracing that time in my life . . . and, perhaps, leaving it behind.

Find more artists like Janis Ian at Myspace Music.

“The Wood Song” — The Indigo Girls (i.e., the song that saved my life)

I tried to kill myself when I was 17.  I know, I know… you’re thinking “hell, who doesn’t?”… but really.  I did.

It wasn’t a particularly dramatic attempt.  No pills, pistols, nooses or knives.  I simply lay down in the parking lot of City Park East on a bitterly cold night in January and decided I wouldn’t get up again.  Hypothermia: effective, yet kinder to the people who would find me later.

Earlier that evening, I had gone to a funeral home for the very first time.  The body of a dear friend was laid out on display which was slightly amazing since he’d shot himself in the head two days prior.  I walked up to the casket and stared; I had never seen a dead body before.  He looked strange… his face and hands looked waxy and fake… a body sans soul.  Everything that made him look like him was gone.  And it was never coming back.  Ever.

Our last interaction was a fight.  The day he shot himself, I had actually written “Call John” on my to-do list so maybe we could reconnect.  That same day, he told the last person to see him alive that he hated me and wanted to make my life a living hell. He very nearly succeeded.

The rumors spread.  He did it to spite me.  It was my fault. Or so my little grief-mortared brain believed.  And so I lay down on that asphalt, determined to make amends – life for a life, right?  I stayed there a long, long time.  Long enough that I stopped feeling my fingers.  Long enough that I stopped feeling cold.  Long enough that I stopped feeling anything.

And then an odd, startling sound broke my reverie.

I flinched… who the hell is at the park at this time of night?  Is it a drug dealer, a rapist, a psycho?  Is someone going to kill me?  And then it occurred to me… maybe I didn’t really want to die just yet.  I crawled to my car chanting “I’m gonna live so goddamn long and be so goddamn happy just to spite them…” under my breath.

That’s how the next couple of months went – metaphorically speaking.  I was too numb to walk, so I crawled.  I felt wooden.  And tired.  And old.  And every day I listened to the Indigo Girls remind me that it was supposed to be hard but that it was worth it.

…but what it takes to cross the great divide

Seems more than all the courage I can muster up inside

But we get to have some answers when we reach the other side

The prize is always worth the rocky ride


Now… I didn’t really believe them.  But I wanted to.  I wanted an answer.  And a prize at the end of the ride.  And so I listened.  Sometimes just wanting to believe is good enough to get you through.

I wish I had an answer to the great big “WHY?” that hangs over this memory, but I don’t. The song speaks of a “greater hand” and a “tricky plan,” and while that gives many people comfort, I’m not convinced that the divine plan ever includes things like suicide.  Or murder, or drunken car wrecks or childhood cancer or any number of other awful things.  I just don’t think God is an asshole, sadist or tyrant.  I don’t think S/He sends tragedy to teach us lessons.

And yet tragedy happens.  With alarming (ir)regularity.  And we are changed by it.  No other event in my life has shaped me like this one.

How are we to live with this?  This knowing that tragedy can strike unbidden at any moment?


But the question drowns in its futility

And even I have got to laugh at me

‘Cause no one gets to miss the storm of what will be

Just holding on for the ride

We walk.  We crawl if need be.  We laugh at ourselves and we hold on.  To each other especially.

Seventeen years have passed since that night.  I still miss my friend.  I include this song on almost every mix cd I ever make.  I refer to it as “the song that saved my life.”  I have tried to wring some good out of his death by allowing it to change me for the better, but you can bet your ass I would trade any virtue I may have gained for a single night at the Waffle House with him.  But until a genie pops out of some half-empty bottle of Shiraz and offers to alter time in exchange for my firstborn, I keep sailing my little wooden boat and chuckling to myself how things work out — I grew up to be a grief counselor.

Find more artists like Indigo Girls at Myspace Music.

“The Suburbs” — Arcade Fire

“The Suburbs” is the heavy opener and titular track from Arcade Fire’s grammy winning latest album. It is, in my opinion, a near-perfect opening and a summary for the entirety of the album. I myself, and I believe anyone, can connect with the universal message here that is perhaps not unique, but nevertheless both heart-wrenching and beautiful.

In the suburbs I
I learned to drive
And you told me we’d never survive
Grab your mother’s keys we’re leavin’

You always seemed so sure
That one day we’d be fighting
A suburban war
your part of town against mine
I saw you standing on the opposite shore

But by the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored
We were already, already bored

There is a clear idea here of an apocalypse, be it a literal one or rather the emotional wrecking of one’s reality. The secure bubble of childhood lost, “moving past the feeling” into the crushing sterility and starkness of consciousness, “into the night.” Right off there’s a sense of nostalgia, a feeling that for me almost becomes bitter throughout the song. The idea of a naïve sense of boredom even as “the first bombs fell” lends itself to the prominent theme of childhood.

Kids wanna be so hard
But in my dreams we’re still screaming, running through the yard

There’s a heartbreaking realization there: the difference in today’s youth and that of the suburb-dwelling generation of the 1970s. The responsibilities given and the adult roles taken by today’s youth are in stark contrast to the quieter, simpler beauty of a childhood spent in what seems in retrospect a dreamlike innocence.

The poignant image of “all of the houses they built in the seventies finally fall,” i.e., the death of the quintessential suburb, is I believe one of the key lines of the song. There’s a repeated reference throughout of a reverence for the past, the time before the end of the peaceful life of the suburbs. That part of life passes like “it meant nothing at all.” I see it as less of a physical end and perhaps more of a coming-of-age story, a classic pining for the days before the stifling, mind-numbing complacency of adulthood. The playful, simple chords would help suggest this; there’s a clear childlike playfulness throughout, despite the underlying melancholy of the lyrics.

After these unpleasant truths we’re asked:

So can you understand
Why I want a daughter while I’m still young
I wanna hold her hand
And show her some beauty
Before this damage is done

This phrase almost brings me to tears. After the clear ending of an entire way of life, growing up on a natural, untouched beauty, the onslaught of adulthood and the horrors faced in this modern age by ourselves and by nature brings a desperate desire for a daughter before it’s too late. To show her the beauty of the world while it still stands, before the evils we’ve set upon it rend it to an incomprehensible form. I can’t wait to have kids, because even in my short lifespan I’ve watched my childhood playgrounds become dangerous, supervision-dependent havens in what were once green and unfettered imaginariums. Even as air quality warnings prevent us from setting foot outside with a clear head and a worry-free heart, it’s imperative that we show our children the beauty still left in this world…that we watch the cool air kick up the skirts and blow the hair of our futures as they run out to play.

Image courtesy of

Under the overpass
In the parking lot we’re still waiting

It’s already passed

So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass

Cause it’s already passed
It’s already, already passed

Whatever thing passes, be it a storm representative of the dangers we’ll face or indeed a hint of the coming end of our kid kingdom, we’re beckoned to move off the steaming pavement and feel the pleasantness of the cool grass between our toes.

Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling
Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling again

I know I already can’t believe the years that have passed, though I still (God-willing) have many yet ahead. Here we see that the narrator is moving past that stage of his life, moving on for better or for worse. But there’s clearly a lingering memory of a simpler time, of a better time. What we make of our future is all on us, and perhaps the only saving grace of the loss of that physical and mental world is that we learned from it what lessons we could. Regardless of how much we separate ourselves from whatever golden age we experienced, in our dreams “we’re still screamin.”

Find more artists like Arcade Fire at Myspace Music.


A couple of years ago, as I made the short drive home with the divine future Mrs. Kiefer at my side, we were treated to the intense rhythmic chanting of a rising pop superstar courtesy of our local top-40 pop station.

At that moment, we were not aware it was someone new. The music was dance-able. The lyrics were a scathingly sarcastic treatment of what we believed to be the typical evening of the loosely-moraled club-going crowd. We bantered back and forth about who it was, pointing out inflections and styles we thought to be signature of Gaga or Perry. Who could pull off this brilliantly satirical, self-parodying song?

At the close of the song, we were crushed when the station DJ neglected to speak the name or the title of the song. Left in the dark, we quickly forgot about it and started singing along with the next song.

A short time later, while cleaning the house, we were tuned into the pop cable music station, and again comes the song! This time — thanks to the on-screen information provided by Comcast — we saw, we learned, we smiled.

Ke$ha, it was.

Okay… who? To the internet!

As that repository of all things possibly true revealed, it was not for no reason that we could not agree who Ke$ha sounded like. She sounds like every pop singer, having demonstrated her backup vocal talent for such household names as Paris Hilton and Flo Rida. However, armed with a notebook bursting with her own creations, the time came for this budding star to take her place among the giants of entertainment.

Her debut single, entitled Tik-Tok, first startled the sleepy pop nation into awareness in late summer 2009. Half-sung, half-rapped, Tik-Tok deconstructs the deplorable, self-destructive lifestyle of a broke, shameless twenty-something woman whose lifestyle revolves around the practice known as “clubbing.” While clearly an outsider observing this walking wasteland of humanity, Ke$ha nonetheless manages to step into the shoes of this depraved club-goer and presents us with a beautifully tragic portrait of a woman trapped in a cycle from which it is implied that the only possible escape may be death or imprisonment.

The remainder of Ke$ha’s extensive musical library contains similar glimpses into the drug, drink, and debauchery-filled life of this young woman. While one may dance to the beat and thoughtlessly ape the lyrics, I implore you to take a moment to be still and absorb the words of Ke$ha. As Waylon Jennings once admonished the country fans of the world concerning cowboys: Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be club-goers.

Image courtesy of

Find more artists like Ke$ha at Myspace Music.

“Someday You Will Be Loved” — Death Cab for Cutie

In the morning I fled

Left a note and it read

Someday you will be loved.

Death Cab for Cutie consistently create amazing music and lyrics. This song, like so many of their works, uses simple words to convey powerful feelings. This power of the simple, combined with the vocals and composition, gels into a song that is haunting, emotional, beautiful.

That said, this is not my favorite song. It can’t be.

I don’t listen to it very often. I can’t.

When I do listen to it, I don’t connect much with the *speaker* of the lyrics. Instead, I think of the girl he sings about. In my mind, she is the girl I used to be: my middle school and high school self.

I like that girl. She’s really pretty cool. She knows how to have fun, she’s intelligent, she’s cute, and she makes people laugh. But in spite of all that, I can’t hang out with her too often because she breaks my freaking heart.

Her tragic flaw is that she bases about 90% of her self-worth upon whether or not she has a boy’s attention. This is a dangerous game to play, especially if you aren’t the most emotionally stable kid on the block. And she isn’t.

In this game, she can’t win. So instead she loses. Every single time.

There are lots of reasons for why she’s like this, reasons that aren’t that interesting to me anymore. The *why* of it isn’t the point, anyway. The point is the *is* of it.

Since she is cute and fun, boys do take an interest in her from time to time. When one does, she clings to this guy and tries to figure out ways to keep him interested. Inevitably, the boy one day decides that he wants to date other girls or just be single. When this happens, she can’t handle it. Her reaction is huge, irrational, broken. The hammer smashes her heart. She isn’t being fair, but she can’t see that. And the cycle happens again and again.

With a couple of exceptions, these boys aren’t *bad* guys — but they are teenagers. She is, too, but her wiring doesn’t allow her to see that school-age dating is supposed to be casual and fun. She needs it to be something else, to do something else. She needs it to fill a void. Sadly, she doesn’t understand that high school romances aren’t real or deep enough to do that.

The worst bit is that she is so fixated on obtaining and holding onto a guy’s attention (which she equates with approval), that she misses out on opportunities for some really positive teenage experiences. I don’t mean to say that she doesn’t have any positive experiences. She does. But she misses out because she can’t always appreciate them because of the control she allows this unhealthy obsession to wield over her life during these tender years. That’s really tragic, you know, because she can’t have a *do over* (unless time travel becomes a real option).

I feel an overwhelming sadness for my teenage self. She’s so wrong about so many things. But she’s also important to me. I need to remember her experiences, honor her emotions (no matter how crazy they were sometimes), and accept that she plays a crucial — maybe necessary? — role in how I *finally* woke up. (That happened in college.)

I can’t do it often, but there are times when I need to take a moment to love on this girl. I like trying to heal her wounds, because I know that I carry a part of her within me. And so, “Someday You Will Be Loved” is the vehicle I use when I need to visit her. I imagine holding her hand, wiping her eyes, brushing her hair, and telling her about all the experiences she will have that will help her to understand that she is bigger than the trivial way she measures her worth. I try to explain that in a few short years the things she’s so worried about right now won’t matter to her anymore and that she will gain a new, clearer understanding of herself. I show her pictures of the friends she will meet in college, the man she will marry, the students she will teach, the son she will have.

I stay with her for a while and then I go, and while I can never change her past, I can always acknowledge it as a part of the journey that made me who I am today. It feels nice to do that.

Oh, and that stuff I said earlier about most of those ex-boyfriends being good guys? I meant that. Really. reallyreally.

But I have to say, the guy in the song is an ass and a coward. Yeah, yeah, I know. He is saying she will be better off with someone who will love her like she deserves to be loved. Sorry, I call bullshit on that. Good intentions or not, this dude gets no respect since he essentially breaks up with this girl (who he knows is in love with him) on a Post-It.


And even though I know most of the guys I dated in high school weren’t total jerks, I do get a sick sort of vicarious pleasure in really hating the guy in the song (calling him inappropriate names, imagining ways to make him suffer, etc.).

I mean, geez, I’m only human.

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