BY SUSANNAH CLARK
This Friday, at 5:35 a.m. I will no longer be a teenager. As I complete my second decade of existence, I find myself struggling to identify with being a twenty-something. For the past eight or so years, I have embraced the self-absorption and liminality that comes with being a middle-class teenager. Now that I have dropped the “-teen” suffix, I enter adulthood longing for the comforting ambiguity that is only Teenage Wasteland.
In a culture where Jamie Lynne Spears gets pregnant at 16 and the Olsen twins became billionaires at 18, it’s hard not to feel a little over the hill. As the Miley Cyri of the world continue to jeopardize their contracts with the Disney Channel with sexy Myspace photos, I’m still figuring out how to use Gmail. Here I am, 20 years old, without child, a house in the Hamptons, or even a Wikipedia page. Am I past my prime? Maybe it’s time to consider Botox.
Popular culture has faded the traditional definition of a “teenager.” I can no longer consider my adolescence the timeframe between ages 13 and 19. And thank God for that. I would hate to put my current self in the same category as a gawky middle-schooler with braces and a training bra. Teenage-hood is an era of rebellion, self-discovery, and heartbreak. Actual age is irrelevant. Despite numerous events debated as the “day the ‘60s died,” everyone can agree it wasn’t Dec. 31, 1969.
So have I already stopped being a teenager? Sabrina dropped her title of “teenage witch” as soon as she entered college. Lil Bow Bow dropped the “lil” at age 16, and started rapping under just “Bow Bow.” After turning 18, I can legally get married and watch Screech’s sex tape. I stopped reading Cosmo Girl years ago; we now keep Cosmopolitan in the bathroom. I no longer smell like Teen Spirit; I have upgraded to Degree for Women.
Though I will admit, I still watch Teen Nick. I still doodle my crush’s name on my notebooks during class, and I wear my Converse All Stars to work.
Maybe, even at 20, I still am a teenager. Maybe I want to embrace my naive angst and update my Livejournal for the rest of my life. If Archie and Jughead can remain teenagers forever, then why can’t I?
Last Tuesday, MTV announced that Total Request Live, its iconic daily top-10 video countdown, will air its last show in November. Like many former Boy Band disciples, TRL was an integral part of my daily routine throughout middle and part of high school. Every weekday, I would run home from the bus stop to catch Carson Daly’s earth-shattering interview with Christina Aguilera about her hair extensions. Though I haven’t watched it in five years, I still consider TRL the essence of mindless teenage banter.
It is with pure sentimentality that I proclaim the end of TRL as the end of my adolescence as well. It’s time to move on from 30 seconds of music video and 15 minutes of product placement and enter the real world—no MTV-related pun intended.
The idea of growing up and abandoning teenager-dom still terrifies me, but I think I’m strong enough to make it. In the words of the Four Seasons, and not Fergie, “big girls don’t cry.”