I Was Bad at Being a Teenager

Palms sweating, I had no idea what to do. I consciously struggled to keep my eyes glued on the screen. Anthony Hopkins grinned slyly and horribly as his well-known Hannibal Lecter. She leaned against me, my body went rigid. I liked this girl, but I had no idea what to do. My still best friend, two seats over, mouthed to me “put your arm around her!”. I defiantly shook my head “no” as I felt my heart simultaneously race and sink. I was seventeen and, apparently, bad at being a teenager.
I still fight with insecurities, still cave in to the temptations of material comfort. Overall, though, I say I came out a better adult than most likely was projected. I’m not an exorbitantly uptight asshole seeking to make the world a more politically-correct place, nor a drug runner pushing weed cigarettes to make a buck. Sure, I may be a hipster-douche, but, according to my wife, that’s just the evolved form of the nerd. Thank you, Pokemon!
I was that kid with the target on his back. The sensitive guy who people mostly seemed to pity more than actually like, tease more than show respect to. I now realize there were people that were actually my friends and I took most of them for granted, but that doesn’t change the fact that I never, actually until the past two years, felt like I belonged anywhere.
I escaped a lot. I read, drew comics, watched excessive amounts of movies and TV and played video games. I’d even act out stories by myself outside, talking and walking. I rarely was able to have friends over, losing my small neighborhood crew when I moved to a more isolated part of Silver Spring, Maryland.
I see a lot of people around my age trying to justify narcissism, cynicism and trying to be “politically correct” and, apparently, never wrong. Maybe what I went through, and I’m purposefully not telling the whole story, wasn’t all that bad. I think of my still wounded ego and my luck of being married to a wonderful woman whose children love me (and I love them). I don’t feel like I’m entitled or special because I’ve lived and have done things. I don’t feel like I’m always right simply because I have an opinion. I just go on the assumption that trying to make your life the best it can be when you’re an adult is just what one does.
Maybe I was just bad at being a teenager. I didn’t go out with friends at night until Community College. I grew up believing an argument was over when someone was overly offensive or said something like “No, you’re just wrong”. I didn’t go on a date until that event described in the first paragraph. I watched Saturday morning cartoons until I started sleeping in until 11-12. Hell, I still love cartoons.
I feel like I do the best with what I have. I feel happy and mostly content. It could have gone drastically different for me, none of the ways being better. I’m lucky to have the life I do and to be the person I am.

20130924-194226.jpg