OliverasRight now I’m on Pandora listening to “All in” by Lifehouse. There is a Glade candle burning in the background of my almost silent room. The clicking of the keyboard on my laptop and the music in my earbuds are the only sounds in my house at the moment — everyone else is asleep.

It is 2 a.m. and the rain has started up again. The train across the river in Oregon City just went by, right on schedule. I’ve been chewing the same piece of gum for the past two and a half hours because I’m too lazy to throw it away. I still need to put my PJs on.

This is a typical night. It’s a routine, same one every single night. Go home from school, grab a bite to eat and then do the enormous amounts of homework that teachers give us. After homework usually comes dinner, a shower and then countless hours of music a few clicks too loud or the neverending universe that is the Internet.

By the time I start to feel sleepy it is usually midnight. While getting ready for school the next morning, like any other girl, I have to take two hours to do my hair and makeup in order to impress other people. School comes, and the routine repeats. Over and over again.

This description seems to be typical of today’s teenagers. Our main focus appears to be the Internet and food. We seem to care only about our outward appearance and the number of followers we have on social media accounts. Many people believe that school is the last thing on our list.

We stay up until all hours and are too complicated for words. We are complicated, but not impossible to sum up in words. defines a teenager as “the numbers 13 through 19, especially in a progression, as the 13th through the 19th years of a lifetime.”

We are so much more than that 19-word definition. We are an infinite amount of words and stories bound to a single page, our body and mind.

Growing up is a job, and a hard one at that. There is a reason why we listen to our music so loud and why we stay up until all hours of the night. It is to convince ourselves that we will make it past this stage.

Personally, music gives me a sense of protection. Even if there is no one there who I can talk to, music will always be there and it is infinitely strong, even when I’m not.

Contrary to many peoples’ thoughts, many of us do care about grades, but our lives cannot revolve around school 24/7. We need time to relax. Many of us stay up late so we can relax. School and homework can be draining, and night is our time to think about what we want instead of the ratio of cations to anions.

Yes, we tend to lose focus in school and may appear self-absorbed. That is how we deal with the world. We focus on ourselves because that is who we need to focus on before we can help other people.

Growing up isn’t about learning how to pay taxes or how to deliver the perfect speech; it’s about learning how to be yourself. Yes, there will be times when we drive ourselves and others insane, but after all, we are only 19 words. How much damage could we really do?

Sarah Oliveras is a sophomore at West Linn High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Tidings this school year.

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