On Being a Teenager

ALL this talk about teenage angst leaves me wondering if something is wrong with me. I haven’t the faintest clue what it is, even though I have been a teen for a good six months now. I hear you’re supposed to feel as if your parents are bothersome, and all you want is to talk to them as little as possible. I guess I’m a lucky teen because I’ve had zero angst and zero bad hair days. But as far as pimples go, I’m not so lucky.

My very first pimples arrived pre-teen, two months before I turned 13 in February, making me feel not very handsome. Like cloying, annoying friends who never leave you alone, they also have the most perverse way of festering on the nose and around it—not cool at all, considering I wear spectacles. The nose pads would either sit in their midst or on them, encouraging an oil fest of naughty new zits. But a teen’s sebaceous glands work round-the-clock, so no facial cleanser, however fancy, could ever turn the T-zone into healthy, glowing, oil-free skin, not even for an hour.

In a full-blown flare-up, I get a dozen or more tiny, pesky bumps around the nose. Other times, the eruption appears less democratic with one large inflammation holding fort, sometimes two, surrounded by tinier specks. There’s nothing much I can do except look glumly at the mirror each day, or not all, and drink more water, irked by that bulging, glistening red nose. You wonder why they call me Rudolph in school.

This only annoys me, which is another thing I notice about myself lately. I tend to flare up more easily, like a sea monster woken up from its slumber. Perhaps this has to do with puberty, or more simply this: I’m a monitor of the naughtiest class in the whole level. It’s tough work, and utterly exhausting. I comfort myself that the shouting releases my stress, but whether it really does, I’m dubious about it.

Even though the workload has more than doubled in school now that I’m in Secondary One, I don’t mind because it has forced me to manage my time better. What’s more, I get to study geography and history, both intriguing subjects, even though I haven’t scored fantastic grades. I’m sure they would move north in time, but if they don’t, I’m not going to sweat it.

One can think happier thoughts, like the informal graduation into a world of independence. I get to hop on a bus, instead of being chauffeured home. The bus may take twice as much time and may not be half as comfortable, but I like my newfound freedom. I’m still dependent on Uncle J. my chauffeur, though, on busy afternoons when I have this tuition or that other activity. And so, my independence is only illusory, since movie outings with my friends are still out of bounds—possible only if I were in the company of my elder brothers. I’m guessing that wouldn’t come until I’m 16, but for now, I’m happy with what I’ve got.

Hopefully, by then, I’d not only get to say goodbye to chaperones and chauffeurs, I’d also get some extra dollars for pocket money.

***
Chester Chua, Secondary One
August 2013

Also by Chester: Music, the World’s Only Real LanguageDeath To Distractions

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