As a teenager, I am always surrounded by the stereotypes and various preconceived notions society has of us as a demographic. Some of them - most of them - aren't true.
I'm not that person smoking marijuana and getting drunk on the weekend. I'm not the person that grandmothers should be scared of. I don't steal from stores, or loiter and look menacing in the parks.
But, at the same time, some of those stereotypes are true. Sometimes, I am filled with that familiar teenage angst. The typical questions that define generations run through my head. I ask myself the unanswerable questions, like "What do I want to do with my life?" or "Who am I?" And the thing that makes me who I am is the fact that I can't answer these questions.
I'm stuck in that awkward transition between children's innocence and adults' responsibility. I'm in that place where I start maturing, growing into my adult self. But right now, that adult self fits a bit too big. A little long on the arms, it hangs a bit too low; it doesn't quite fit who I am. But at the same time, I've long outgrown my childhood memories.
Right now, I can't decide which I'd rather wear. Some days, I long for the simplicity and sheltered life society has provided kids with. There were no issues about where I want to go to school, what I want to spend the rest of my life doing, and what kind of person I want to be.
There was only sunshine, play dates and whether you had a cheese string or a pudding for dessert with your lunch. I wistfully look back at my formative years when I didn't have to do much except enjoy life.
Yet at other times, I can't wait for adulthood and all the privileges that come with it. I want to be able to pick what direction I take my life in. I want to be able to have control over my own life. However, as a teenager, I'm torn between two different paths. I want to reach the land of adulthood, but I'm not sure I want to take my first steps on the path.
This constant struggle during our transition leads to a lot of the characteristics of our demographic. It leads to our insecurities, because we can't quite figure out who we are yet. It's a never-ending war throughout our teenage years, with neither side ever gaining complete dominance.
I walk through my school everyday, and marvel at the maturity and leadership each student possesses. They are out in the community, making the world a better place, or they are participating in school athletics or music or drama. But these same kids are also the ones that I see pettily squabbling and arguing over minuscule, insignificant things.
It both pains me and fills me with hope, because although I see the constant bickering, we teenagers always seem to be able to eventually rise above the egos and machismo that define us, and unite to be able to use our not-insignificant influence as a collective to change the world.
For me, I too am caught up in this ebb and flow of the tide of teenage hormones. I can feel the child side of me yearning for my preschool days again. I can also see the adult me, as well as my potential, and it excites me. I want to reach out and grasp this future, pull it tight and never let it go.
I look at the past and I see the golden memories that I still cherish today. I look to the future and see the boundless opportunities that I am presented with. But right now, I look at the present and I wonder who I was, who I am and who I will be.
Andrew Chang is a Grade 12 student at Gleneagle Secondary in Coquitlam.