Thinking back to when I was 16 seems like an accomplishment all in itself. I’m almost 30 now, that’s half a lifetime ago and a life lived. I wasn’t your typical teenager. I didn’t strive to get my drivers license like the rest of my peers, I was considered an outcast by the “popular” crowd, but I seemed to have friends from every “clique”, I didn’t go to the classes I thought were unimportant, instead I went to Art and music and expressed myself through homemade clothes and styles. I rebelled against my parents, stayed out all night with my friends and snuck out of my bedroom window countless times. I smoked pot, drank beer and even got brought home by the cops a few times. My parents would NEVER live my teenage years over again. Specifically 16.
I was in my Sophomore year in High School. Failing nearly all my classes, due to skipping them. Halfway thru, the school said it was too late to try to pass. It was either leave school and re-do my second year or transfer to an alternative High School. With the way I was acting out, the alternative was the best choice.
I transferred schools. I transferred to a school, that I now think about, was my saving grace. A school that didn’t follow teaching norms. A school that allowed you to be who you were with out dress codes or stipulations. A school that offered countless ways to express yourself through art classes, writing and even jewelry making. A school that was part of the community. But most importantly, a school that knew kids messed up and that some kids didn’t grow up like the rest of us.
My first day was like any other first day at school. I was shy and hesitant until I was greeted and introduced to all the teachers and staff. The students welcomed me with smiles and open arms. That’s when I knew this was a place that could potentially change my life. Within a few months of attending I had brought my GPA (grade point average) from a 1.3 to a 2.5. I was part of the school newsletter as Editor and assistant photographer. My creative writing had made it to the publishing block, and brought me to countless poetry readings and appearances. My counselor pushed me to sign up for the Kawanis Stars of Tomorrow program, which granted me the second place trophy in music. I was able to express myself through a mural I painted on the art wall in the gymnasium (sadly the school was later moved to a larger location and the painting was painted over, no photos). I accomplished more in half a school year than I did my freshman year and half a year at my other school. My parents saw the change as well. I was at home, always doing my homework and involving myself more with extra curricular activities. My attitude changed from being a rebellious teenager to ambitious and outgoing.
Right before my 18th birthday, is when I found out I was pregnant with my son. My school, being as awesome as it was, was the only school in our county that had a special program for pregnant teens. I stayed in school. I got a job, and even moved to my own place with my then boyfriend who later became my husband. I WAS going to graduate and get my diploma. I wasn’t going to let this stop me. Due to the pregnancy, I took 4 months off and stayed at home with the baby and also getting married. The following school year I attended the remaining classes I needed to get my credits and graduated. I went from a GPA of 1.3 and graduated with a sparkling average of 3.4. I was failing hard and brought myself back up. All while getting pregnant, getting married and taking 4 months off.
The age of 16 started a downward spiral to a very unsuccessful life, but it was when I was 16 I also realized, that is NOT what I wanted. Would I live 16 over again? No, I wouldn’t. If it weren’t for that year, I would have been someone completely different, and I like where I am now. I learned a lot at 16 that I’m glad I know now.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Only Sixteen.”