Vignette: a small impressionistic scene, an illustration, a descriptive passage, a short essay, a fiction or nonfiction work focusing on one particular moment; or giving an impression about an idea, character, setting, mood, aspect, or object.
Being fourteen is more than just going through one more of the “angsty and rebellious” years of your life. Being fourteen means being stuck between the endless cycle of “but you’re just a kid,” and at the same time “you’ve got to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.” Being fourteen makes you feel an utterly agonizing amount of unwanted emotions. They’re not all bad and scary; there are also wonderfully euphoric feelings and moments that become the highlights or our days, years, lives. That is my brief definition of what being fourteen is like for me.
The first time I ever fell in love is an event I can clearly still remember–most likely because it wasn’t even that long ago, to begin with. It all happened in my freshman year of high school. As it usually goes, I met a boy; we talked; we got to know each other, and then it all went downhill from there. Falling in love at such a young age is usually deemed as obsession and confusion about one’s feelings. But how could I possibly have been confused if just merely thinking about that boy made me feel all the stupid stomach butterflies and heart fluttering? It was all too overwhelming, so I just chose to ignore it and pretend my feelings never existed. Surprisingly, he ended up confessing he liked me and I reciprocated his feelings, but nothing happened because we were “too young to even know what love is or how to handle a relationship.” He thought just like an adult. And just when I thought that he’d understand and feel the same intensity of my emotions. Silly me. That really hurt my poor, inexperienced, sensitive, teenage heart.
The day I turned fourteen is one that I can vividly remember: balloons, and laughter, and cake, and family, and gifts, and Christmas decorations, and friends, and fourteen little candles, and tears, and the birthday song all seemed to be coming together for my special day. The strong, addicting scent of sweets that was coming from the kitchen was hypnotizing and immediately lifted my mood. It almost felt (dare I say) as if that day was truly meant just for me and the celebration of my life and accomplishments; like that day was only for my birthday and no one else’s. As a teenager, there’s nothing more satisfying in this world to me than feeling special and appreciated by all of those that you love. To me, my birthday is felt just like a holiday in my name; a holiday to celebrate my importance (however big or small) in this world. It might seem like I’m exaggerating this already hyperbolized statement of my importance since fourteen isn’t a very important age or number to anyone, but to me, fourteen meant I only had one year before I became a woman in front of the eyes of my proud, Latin culture; only three years until I had to leave the comfortable and safe nest I had created in high school, and instead face that scary “real world” that adults love to talk about; only a few more years before I finish growing up and have to work and sustain myself. Years go by too fast. It was all going too quickly–it still is. Despite all the fear and anxiousness I felt, I couldn’t wait to continue growing and living life; couldn’t wait until I could make a name out of myself and do what I love. But it was all still scaringly fast. I then left my overwhelming thoughts and went back to dancing to ‘Valio la Pena’ by Marc Anthony with my crazy mother, who seemed to be a little too drunk.
Here’s a quick, funny story:
I got lost on my first day of high school. I can still remember how I was searching around for the words “gym” displayed somewhere in some building on campus. I went inside pretty much every building except the one I was supposed to be in. At the moment, I felt as scared as one could be feeling in a haunted house or while running away from a murderer, but looking back at this moment, it was one of the funniest things that have ever happened to me. After several minutes of walking around like a lost puppy, a wonderful, serendipitous event occurred: someone finally told me where to go and how to get there. It all felt so shocking and overwhelming for me that I almost forgot to thank the one that helped me. I don’t remember who that person was, but I felt as if I owe them my life.
For about three years of my life now, I have experienced that thing that everyone begins to realize is there deep inside of them as they start growing up and becoming a teenager; that thing that leads to you hating yourself and wanted to change everything about you: the capability of feeling insecurity. My insecurities consume all of me: my soul, my life, my time, my tears. They make me feel like I’m never enough; like I could be doing much better, but I’m refraining myself from doing so. They make me feel like I’m a complete mess that has no sense of the direction that her life is taking. It kills me from the inside and is always there to remind me how much better other people are in comparison to me. It’s almost self-inflicted torture, but that’s just the most fun part about being a teenager, right?
The most beautiful moment in my life was that in which I realized how important my mother was to me. Of course, I have always known this and loved her but it wasn’t until I started school in North America that I realized how much she has done for me and how vital her existence is to mine. Thanks to my mother, I ended up coming to the United States, which helped me learn English relatively quick, which helped me get into honor classes in middle school, which helped me get into a magnet school, which helped me take AP and AICE classes, which is currently helping me get a better future than I ever could have had in Cuba. To my mother, I owe my entire life, and I would never want to change her in any way. It’s so bizarre to think about how dependent I am on her and how much love I am capable to feel for that woman. It’s almost funny how crucial people can be in someone else’s life and the impact that humans have on one another. It’s almost scary to think about how I wouldn’t even be here talking my story if it wasn’t for that woman. Fourteen is a fun age to realize how strong attachments and emotions can really be.
I glance up at the top of my phone, where the time is shown. It’s 12:15 am. I panic.
Why am I like this?
Why do I self-sabotage myself like this all the time?
It’s this late and I still haven’t finished my homework.
Why did I take that nap?
Why didn’t I do the essay for AICE Environmental, instead of taking that time to watch Shane Dawson’s latest video on YouTube?
My train of thought took away the last bit of sanity and hope I had left in me. I just want–no, need–to sleep. At this point, I can feel all the weight of my countless sleep-deprived nights crashing down on me and pulling in my eyelids to close them, but I have to resist.
I somehow manage to push myself into a sitting position and go back to finish The Things They Carried. By the time I finish my English reading, I look up from the book and look around my room; everything is dark, and the soft, lingering scent of my favorite perfume invades my nostrils and relaxes my body.
“Guess it’s time to move on to writing that research paper for Ms. Perez,” I say quietly to myself, scared that my mom might find out that I’, staying up until late…again. With my phone in hand and my head against my incredibly cozy pillow and my body now laying sideways in m bed, I am ready to start writing on Google Docs.
Starting to write, I notice that the only sound I can hear is that of my fingers tapping endlessly on my phone’s screen. I then take some time to shift around and look up at my ceiling. The quiet sound of the air conditioner lowly beeping every now and then fills my ear. Man, I had never realized how peaceful and comfortable my room was. The sheets under me were incredibly warm and soft. It all just felt so wonderfully calming and tranquil.
Suddenly, the weight my eyelids were fighting against seemed to be winning. I didn’t even realize. It feels so good to finally close my eyes.
Then everything went black.