Being fourteen was so uncomfortable, that is probably the best word for it. At fourteen your body is changing, your interests are changing- you have the emotions and mentality of something not quite a child and definitely not quite a woman. My experience at fourteen is probably similar to most women’s, but in the immortal words of Justin Bieber, “when I was thirteen, I had my first love,” my experience was so uncomfortable.
When I was thirteen I was so afraid that I would never ever, ever have my first kiss. My best friend at the time always one-upped me on the womanhood scale! She had boobs and I was flat as a board. She had dark eyelashes and looked great without makeup while I looked something like a little boy who had been crying and rubbing his eyes (needless to say makeup is my friend and without it, I am a solid 1.25 out of 10). SHE EVEN GOT HER PERIOD FIRST (mind you, this was before I realized how horrible periods were, but at this point in my life I was so focused on becoming a woman, that the ultimate rite of passage was, in fact, getting my period!) She was so funny, sporty, and friends with all the upperclassmen. Everyone loved her and wanted to be her friend; and more than that, all the boys would’ve died to be her boyfriend. She had a line, and I had no takers when it came to people interested in us romantically. Needless to say, she also got a boyfriend first. She had it all, the looks, the boys, the period- she was a woman. I, on the other hand, was still awkward, flat, and ugly. I’m sure her first kiss was magical- everything a thirteen-year-old dreams of; I wouldn’t know seeing as I was never going to be kissed.
After she got a boyfriend, everything changed. I wasn’t number one in her life anymore. We were on different levels more than ever.
Long story short, after many tears, hurt feelings, and periods of low self-esteem, the HOTTEST boy in school confessed his love for me. I had liked this boy for years, and he was perfect (as far as fourteen year olds go). I could’ve run 1000 miles, I was finally going to find true love and live happily ever after.
My first kiss was about as fairytale as you can get in the 21st century- at night, sitting on a blanket beside a lake, watching the fireworks overhead (it was the 4th of July), the love of my thirteen-year-old life leaned over and kissed me very shyly on the lips. I was in heaven- also I was now a woman, and that meant I was invincible.
This was my first attempt at a boyfriend, my first real relationship. It lasted a year and a half. The first six months were great; we were in love, planning our lives together (yes at thirteen, I’ve always been eager to grow up). Then came the next twelve months. He ignored me, and on top of that, actually preferred talking to my former best friend over me. I was heartbroken- I was ignored and drug along for an entire year. I should have broken up with him long before, but I thought I was in love, I thought it was my fault, I thought it was normal, and I thought no one else could ever love me as much as him (looking back I realize we were kids and we didn’t know what love was, but living it was a different story). I got accustomed to being unwanted by my “significant other”. Being ignored and undesired became my level of normal.
As I went into high school, and turned fourteen, I became a much wiser woman. I realized I had needs that this boy was not, and would never meet (namely, actually be invested in our relationship). In high school, new man candy caught my eye. In high school, boys paid attention to me. In high school, boys wanted me. I said goodbye to Boyfriend Neglect and set out to fine me a real man.
My second boyfriend was sooo much better. I was his world, he wanted to be with me all the time and I couldn’t get enough of it. He texted me back, held my hand, and even gave a secret smooch in public (something Boyfriend A never did). He wanted to be with me… maybe a little too much.
The first time we dated, his intensity scared me. I was fourteen, and had just spent the last eighteen months being ignored. I was at a new school, I was in high school, I was fourteen, literally I had no idea what I was doing (as if anyone else did either). The second time we dated, it lasted a longer. Long enough for me to make decisions that I regretted, but that prepared me for life. I didn’t know what to expect, from this relationship; I expected it to be more negligence and loneliness, where everything was my fault and I couldn’t express my feelings. This relationship was the same but opposite- I felt pressured to do what he wanted me to do “because I was his girlfriend” and I didn’t want to be the reason we broke up, I didn’t want to be lame to his friends, and I was scared he’d tell people everything- everything I said, everything I felt, how he touched me and how I touched him- I couldn’t tell him I didn’t like it, because id already said it was okay (I didn’t realize I had the option to change my mind). I was so thankful that someone actually took the time to put up with me (after being trained by Boyfriend A that I wasn’t worth caring about) that I didn’t want to risk losing him, regardless of how much I didn’t want what he wanted.
The one thing I can say is that at least I didn’t give him my virginity, but he made me feel like trash all the same. Finally, we broke up after he told me I was brainwashed (because I finally told him I didn’t want to do things anymore). Instead of respecting my wishes, he blew up on me, cussing and telling me how much of a hypocrite I was. I was crushed. I trusted him. I loved him. The hardest thing for a fourteen-year-old to learn is the lie “I love you.” The words he said didn’t hurt as much as the realization that he hadn’t stopped loving me, but that he never loved me in the first place, and I had been so venerable with him.
My relationships at fourteen broke me. They set a terrible standard in my mind of how I should be treated and what I should look for in a man. I had so many regrets. I knew that I wasn’t worth loving. I knew that I was trash, just like Boyfriend B said, just like Boyfriend A made me realize I was. I was not a person; I was only made so that a man could be happy. This is what dating taught me at fourteen. I realized there were worse things than being alone.
Luckily, with the grace of God, I have grown, and come to realize that the lessons I learned at fourteen are FAKE NEWS! Now at twenty I know that no matter who other people are, I am the same, I am me. I am a woman made by God for great things. I work hard and I succeed. I have bad days and I grow through them. I have friends, and an incredible boyfriend who helped me learn what it means to show love instead of say love. I know my worth lies in who I say I am and not whom others say I am.
If I could say anything to my fourteen-year-old self, or any fourteen-year-old girl, it would be this:
This is temporary. Everything about this- how you look, who you think you are right now, the pain you feel, the bullies, the fake friends, the self-hate, the uncomfortableness of being trapped in this in-between phase- is temporary. What is not temporary is you- how you love, how you survive, your goodness, your heart, the way you are going to overcome and get through all the bumps of growing up- is not temporary. Each bump in the road is a lesson, everyone makes mistakes, and no one knows what they’re doing. Forgive others, forgive yourself, and wait expectantly for your bright future.