By Pobodys Nerfect
The following is an essay that I wrote for English class, on the topic, “Growing Up.” Enjoy.
Many people have a hard time digesting the following information about my past, but I guarantee it is no jest. Despite my current appearance as a happy, religious, and overall normal young adult, my turbulent teenage years saw me as an angry and rebellious punk. For some, the most shocking aspect of my transformation is that I speak about it readily; they expect a closed attitude of, “Let history remain history and move on.” However, I feel differently. Though my past may conjure up some unpleasant memories, I have made a conscious decision to learn from my experiences and use the lessons to better my present and my future.
During my early high-school years, I hated everything Judaism represented, mostly because it had been misrepresented to me. Many teachers refused to acknowledge my questions on the existence of G-d or explain the traditions we were being instructed to practice. My persistence in questioning eventually rewarded me with answers, and I am ever thankful to the patient few who guided me in the proper direction. The truly influential people in my life were the ones who never forced their beliefs on me, allowing me to instead come to my own realizations. What affected me perhaps the most was that I saw my mentors apply the principles they were teaching into their own lives. I anticipate the day when I can use the knowledge and insights I gained through my journey to help others who are seeking the truth.
The change in my attitude towards Judaism brought about a change in my outer appearance as well. My wardrobe back then was very black- right down to my nail polish and spiked leather bracelet. Like most teenagers, I was expressing myself through clothing. My goal was to convey to the world that I was displeased with everything life had to offer. Since my spiritual metamorphosis, my closet has also morphed into a more conservative, button-down blouse and kick-pleated skirt style. Due to my drastic change, I that people would be changing their mental judgments of me. This brought me to the realization that dressing as an observant Jew is a responsibility. My future actions would be stereotyped as typical of Orthodox Jewry, whether that became my objective or not. It is my hope that I can accurately represent my people and my faith before a judging world.
Perhaps the most important discovery I made as a teenager was about the true path to happiness. I spent much of my punk stage miserable that my life wasn’t perfect. I blamed my unhappiness on the dysfunctions of my family and on my own character flaws. What I didn’t realize was that I was bringing about my own sadness; I was not allowing myself to become happy. Happiness requires constant effort and self-control to keep from thinking depressing thoughts. That might be to be a lifetime battle, but I am confident I will succeed.
To quote the character Rafiki from Disney’s The Lion King, “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.” My experiences as a teenage punk helped form the person I am today. The journey is not over, but I hope to take the lessons I’ve acquired with me as I struggle to soar higher.