Nobody knows where teenagers really came from. Most of them can remember that they definitely didn’t always exist. Children usually just became adults and grew up! But somewhere in the early part of the 20th Century (allegedly), people began to really take notice of a period of time when children behaved very, very odd; just before they could be considered adults. Of course, scientists plunged into the study of biological factors contributing to this fact, sociologists and anthropologists relentlessly searched for social reasons for these changes and heartless corporates lunged at the opportunity to financially exploit another seemingly more vulnerable demographic of people. None of this has stopped today either. Nobody has figured out teenagers. They don’t know when they came into existence, why they made this explosive entrance into human history and what they are really up to. Nobody understands their actions, why they are so remarkable and what the world did to have to put up with this. But today my point is not to dwell on the origins of this phenomenon, or to explain it. Rather, in the last week of my teenage years, I want to write about this motley crew of mostly misunderstood and stereotyped class of children (or young adults) trying to find their way around sudden burdens of adulthood.

Despite consistently hearing from my parents that teenagers didn’t exist when they were young, nothing has changed in the fact that I relate to this class of people that have been singled out for their age. Apparently people in older generations never acted up or fiercely fought against authority while hiding behind the veil of being teenagers, but I’ve found myself placed squarely within those identifiers. I’ve found myself waking up some days drowning in inexplicable melancholy and other days wading through incomprehensible fury at nothing in particular. I’ve found that whether teenagers are a construct or a biological development in a new age for humanity, they now exist in society and in their own minds.

On the verge of shedding my teenage skin, I’ve realised that there’s a comfort in this age that I’m going to lose. There’s a certain leeway for being “young” that I won’t have, even in my own eyes. The world is going to be a lot more uncertain, and life is going to have more twists and turns. I’m going to be closer to the age where I look back at myself now and laugh at the child I was. Youthful idealism is going to be completely eaten away by reality. I’m going to be one step closer to the people who look back and knowingly laugh at the passionate and fierce opinions of children who think that the world can still be changed. The blinds hiding the true colours of everything I’ve found comfort believing in are slowly lifting further and further. But the emotions I feel at these revelations are not bold and outspoken; they are being bludgeoned into where they can just be a muffled screaming in the little box in the old trunk in the far left corner of the wine cellar of the basement of the house that is my mind.

Slowly, the cocoon is falling away and comfort is fading into the background leaving nothing but the loneliness and intimidation of coming of age. On the brink of approaching this milestone, I’m looking for reassurance by trying to collect all that I’ve learnt about myself and the world in the last 19 years and 51 weeks so I don’t lose myself in the unfamiliar. It is in this act that I’ve realised the importance of having seen myself as a teenager. Whether it was real or all in my head, all the inner conflict, glimpses of the ugliness in people and the world, irrational passion and stubbornness that I possessed has helped me show me who I am and who I want to be. So now that I’m starting out with a fresh canvas, I know that I want to stand by what I believe in. I never want to lose my heart in the material distractions of the world. I never want to get so caught up in the whirlwind of life and responsibility that I forget the essence of what made me who I am and where I truly want to go. I know it’s easier said than done. I expect the approaching hurricane to strip me of most of what I’ve built around and inside me, but now I also now know what my most precious possessions are which I’ll hold on to as tight as I can.

In the end, I know that people have a thousand things to say about teenagers. They are argumentative, loud, stubborn, unpredictable, hormonal, and naïve but still think they know everything. In some countries, they are also very scary! But they are also frightened, vulnerable and finding their feet before fast-approaching adulthood. It may be a state of mind, but it is a state of mind that is required before they are all alone in the world and have nobody to shield them when they are raw and defenceless.

I write this to raise a toast to every tantrum I’ve thrown, every unfathomable mood swing I’ve had, every argument I’ve started for no good reason and every time my parents have wanted to pull their hair out because they don’t understand who created this monster. Each of those times, I’ve come closer to realising the value of what is important in life and that’s where the diamond lies in the dirt of such emotional upheaval.

Here’s to teenagers everywhere, frantically searching for the shore in a sea of the blurring black and white of life.

Chitrangda Jai Singh enjoys reading fiction, travelling, and dining at quaint cafes. She spends her time whining about the intricacies of law school, immersing herself in existential crises that afflict most 19 year olds and laughing uncontrollably at the most inopportune moments. She is currently grappling with real life at Jindal Global Law School in Sonipat, Haryana.