Being 15 is hard anywhere. Most of us feel alone, silently worried about our changing bodies, people’s perceptions, bigger responsibilities, and powerlessness. When I feel these things, I don’t share my thoughts, which makes me even more isolated.
I was recently inspired by a National Public Radio series, #15Girls, which told the stories of 15-year-old girls around the world and shared the social media posts of women and girls in America who answered the question, “What was/is the hardest thing about being 15?” I asked Truckee/North Lake Tahoe women the same question; below are their answers.
Renee Koijane, 43 | Longing to feel accepted, wanted. Not being fully secure in my skin, spending too much time concerned with how others perceived me: The clothes I wore, the things I said, how I walked, but mostly how I looked. If I could go back, I’d wear less makeup and look within for my true compass.
Niki Kates, 17 | Seeing my peers grow up and start to do more “adult” things while I still looked and felt like a kid. As a result, I pretended to be someone I wasn’t to be normal.
Joanne Knox, 38 | Feeling divided between a number of things and trying to be “good” at all of them: Soccer, acting, school, friendships, family. It was lots of emotional, physical, and mental energy all the time! It was an exhausting and exhilarating time.
Maria Duran, 15 | Realizing I am no longer a kid and soon I will be done with high school. It’s scary thinking about going into a world unknowing of what to expect, but things ease the process, like friends, family, and some very helpful adults such as counselors.
Laurel Lippert, 67 | I was “too” everything. 5’11” when girls longed to be 5’2”. I was very shy and two years younger than my classmates, wearing clothes my mother sewed. I survived and, in time, embraced it all and am happy to be that girl today.
Mitzi Ayala, 15 | Responsibility weighing on your shoulders in the household. Following the right road to be successful because if you don’t, you’re giving bad examples for the younger ones in the family.
Christine Villaman, 45 | Figuring out where I fit in to all the friend groups in school.
Isabel Gonzalez, 15 | Lots of responsibility in life and lots of people depending on you.
Patricia Johnson, 62 | I felt I knew it all, that I was wiser and smarter than I was given credit for — especially by adults. It was very frustrating to be discounted and not “heard” — especially by adults.
Hannah Halvorsen, 17 | Being mature enough to do things on your own, but parents have to shuttle you around.
Kristen Giordano, 33 | Feeling misunderstood by family and friends. Thinking you know who you are but feeling like you’re ever-evolving. It took me a long time to be comfortable enough with myself to understand who would make me the happiest in my life.
Maria de Jesus, 15 | Feeling it’s your life. Feeling like your parents are your worst enemies. Having a boyfriend, wanting everything with him, and, when he leaves you, feeling like the world is going to end and life is worth nothing.
Phebe Bell, 49 | Being deeply uncomfortable in my own skin. Being intensely self-conscious and somewhat horrified by this unfamiliar adult body I now lived in. I watched my daughters evolve from beautifully un-self-conscious physical beings to seeing the rug of self-confidence be pulled out from underneath them.
Sophia Sanchez, 15 | Beginning to make more important decisions that have an actual impact on my future.
Leanna Jacuzzi, 52 | Getting used to my body changing. Being an athletic girl, I wasn’t prepared for that.
Eleanore Hamilton, 16 | Expectations to be perfect are everywhere. Some come from people and things around you and some come from inside yourself. But there is also a quiet voice within you saying imperfection is real and perfection is fake. Finding and acting on that truth is the hardest thing.
Jenni Dewald, 48 | Remarkable things happened during those awkward times: I met two dear friends in my life today when I was 15.
Eliza McCullough, 18 | Struggling with self-confidence in lots of areas, but specifically with my body. I remember looking in the mirror, feeling unhappy with the way my stomach looked for the first time in my life. I know many girls who had those feelings much earlier than I did. I lost that incredible lack of awareness little girls have about their shape and appearance.