Daphne is a sixteen year old from California whose interests pertain to nearly everything, but often revolve around writing, dance, playing music, and family and friends.
As often as I do to establish a profile of my personality, I cannot simply classify writing as a hobby. After crafting a short story about fairies one sweltering midsummer’s day when I was seven, I have needed my daily fix of injecting lead from my mechanical pencil onto insignificant plains of paper. Writing is something I chose to do. If my words will never be worth an editor’s passing glance, I will never stop. Writing is simply what I do, what I think about, how I attempt to figure out whether or not my thoughts are relevant to reality. Writng is how I give those thoughts shape rain or shine, through idleness or chaotic daydreams. For garlic, for shame, I think as I try to focus my curious, wandering mind on my notebook once more.
Then one day in middle school while I was feverishly scribbling away, someone asked me, “What are you doing?”
“I’m writing a story.”
The person’s face immediately contorted in confusion. “Why is everyone writing a book?”
And so I was confused. The person’s face and even why he approached me resides in my mind as a blur of colors and zits, but his words permanently implanted themselves in my memory. They seemed to serve as new kind of lens, and when I peered through them, I realized that many of my peers were indeed writing novels of their own. I have met the nocturnal poets with their roseate dawns and silver skies and poets my age writing about broken hearts and black pits of despair. (I was twelve.) Then there is the darkly ensembled group of kids at school carrying acoustic guitars over their backs and playing common chord progressions. If it sounds as if I am mocking them, I am not trying to place myself above these people and say that I artistically surpass them all. This was what I noticed: a growing amount of kids were utilizing creative outlets, and proclaiming them to the world as their passions. However, I found that many of these passions were short-lived. In a few months these kids would be ridiculing their notebooks or trading in their guitars for well, whatever’s next- perhaps hockey sticks? Calling oneself a diehard artist was undoubted
Why might kids suddenly put themselves through phases where they are cooped up in their rooms, trying to capture the favor of their muse? My friend once showed me a pink binder of songs that she had written, with the latest one based on the recent disbanding of a relationship that had lasted a good four weeks. The lyrics basically consisted of rows of questions asking why he had stopped wanting to hug her, kiss her, laugh with her, and carry her bags and throw away trash for her. I decided that teenagers were attracted to the idea of being an artist for at least two reasons.
1. Hey, I know several chicks that will fall all over a guy who can play some decent acoustic guitar. Some teenagers that look up to rock stars might feel that they can identify with their heroes by playing music.
2. My worst ordeals that I’ve suffered as a teenager are the ones where I felt as if I were suffering alone and I wasn’t exactly certain what was what anymore. Of course I knew low points were a part of growing up, but I couldn’t even recognize if I had hit rock bottom- at least that constituted as solid ground. Since people associate artistry with esoteric meanings that spew some bottom line of truth all over the place, teenagers will resort themselves to lamenting about their latest inner tragedy through painting, dancing, songwriting, etc.
For the latter reason, parents should not discourage kids from artistic binges, if they choose to go through them. If your kid wants to start a band in the garage or paint their entire room, try to give them a chance (unless it relates to something psychologically disturbing). To be honest, it is a better method of expression than self-mutilation or any other activity where their feelings are suppressed.
If one openly declares they are keeping up the hobby, both kids and parents should know that applying longevity to an extracurricular is far better than brushing briefly with many different ones. Experimenting with activities is a great way to find one’s footing in a particular passion, but one must dedicate themselves to what they want to do if they wish to achieve success. The effort must not only be made by the child; the parent has to provide support by both pushing and cheering them on. Teenagers can be trusted with deciding whether or not they will do it for the rest of their lives.