Dirtbag teen opinions that I’ve mostly grown out of

Remember the good old days, when you were 16 and your body was weird and your parents were idiots? I definitely knew everything back then and was pretty sure I was the first person to think that normal social conventions were for SHEEP, not me! Here are some of the opinions I held that, thankfully, I’ve been able to move past.

Small talk sux! I hate and resent every second that I’m forced to do it in this dumb society!

Actually, small talk is fine. I’m not GOOD at it, but I understand its utility by now. As much as I would like to stare deeply into the eyes of a stranger and ask them how often they think about their own mortality, that’s just not a thing you can do in the normal course of life. So you start with the basics, about the temperature that you’re both inhabiting at that moment and what your job is and how you know the host and aren’t these snickerdoodle cookies good, and it’s fine. Sometimes it’s even fun and can lead to medium talk (pop culture is good! Let’s make a pun on a Hamilton lyric that relates to the crazy thing the president just said and have a laugh together) or big talk (how often do you worry about one day being old and alone and no one remembering you after you’re dead? I know it’s not just me!).

I still don’t like chatting about the weather with people I’m close to, but I’m trying to let that go too, because life is short.

Making plans in advance is boring and stupid! We should all be more spontaneous and flexible and stop wasting our precious lives on to-do lists and itineraries!

Ah, young Urs, trying so hard to rebel against her true nature. Like my father before me, I am a planner at heart (I do it for a living now, and I’m good at it!). Schedules make me feel secure and happy. I manage my anxiety better when I have a plan. Plus, I have real responsibilities now that I didn’t have at 16, when food just kind of appeared in my life and I didn’t have to make a budget or make sure my laundry was always done. Yeah, it bugged me that my dad could never seem to enjoy the elaborate plans he made for us when I was younger (vacations and so on) because he was always thinking about the NEXT thing we were doing, but I can try to avoid that without going full hippy-dippy.

If you don’t read books you’re stupid and I’m better than you.

This is a mindset that I confess I’m still trying to work my way out of, and I’m not all the way there yet. The thing is, reading is GREAT, but just because words are arranged in book form doesn’t mean they’re thoughtful or insightful or intelligent. Plus we’re living in the golden age of television and no one has a decent attention span anymore. Trust me, if you’d rather watch Bojack than read a novel, I hear you and I’ll probably join you.

I love to read–I joined the Book of the Month Club a few months ago and it’s been super rewarding–but there is so much institutionalized snobbery (and ableism!) around book-reading and it’s really unnecessary.

Ugh, caring about people is too hard. Hasn’t anyone read The Fountainhead?

I read some Ayn Rand as an older teen and it broke my head open and seemed totally fucking revolutionary. The Fountainhead was legitimately my favorite book for four or five years, until sometime in college when I realized I hadn’t thought seriously about it in a long time and the parts of it that I DID remember didn’t…quite…make sense anymore.

I can’t find it now, but I think there was a story on NPR several years ago about the phenomenon of people reading Ayn Rand between the ages of 16 and 20 or so, how Rand’s philosophies speak meaningfully to people in that phase of life where you can taste independence but haven’t quite achieved it yet. And that makes a lot of sense! Especially as an insecure, desperate-to-please young woman, I’m glad I read these novels and got a sense that sometimes, it’s right to put yourself first. I’m just MORE glad that I also moved along, got older, and evolved my thinking.

What did you hate as a teen that you’re basically okay with now? Tell me your dirtbag teen opinions.

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