They say, “It’s okay to be you. Just be yourself.” I am quiet. If it’s okay to be quiet, why does it feel so wrong in a world that’s so loud? I am a loner. If it’s okay to be a loner, why does it hurt so much to sit mostly alone during lunchtime? I don’t show much skin, due to insecurities. If it’s okay not to show skin, why does it make me feel like an outsider when everyone around me wears tank tops and shorts?
They say, “School is important. Excelling academically is great.” If people care so much about school, why am I called a nerd, when all I do is care about school, too?
They say, “Family is important.” If someone spends a large amount of time with their family, like their parents, they are deemed uncool by society. If family is important, why do they call a certain amount of familyness uncool?
They say, “That is not cool.” If that is not “cool”, why is she (over there) doing “uncool” things, and yet, still managing to be “cool”?
They say, “Reading books is not cool,” but she reads books and no one calls her uncool.
They say, “Don’t act weird,” but weird is what she acts, and no one calls her weird or looks at her funny.
They say, “Perfection is impossible.” If perfection is impossible, why does Hollywood and society keep feeding us the idea of perfection? The perfect house, the perfect school, the perfect looks, the perfect boyfriend.
They say, “Love yourself and don’t change.” If I’m supposed to love myself, even with extra pounds, why do they glorify weight loss and bikini bodies by constantly running these types of TV commercials?
They say, “You’re too young.” How can they know whether I’ve grown up or not, if it’s a mental thing? Can they see into my mind?
They say, “The only dumb question is the one not asked.” I just asked you a question not too long ago, and you looked at me like either I was dumb, or the question was dumb. I don’t know which.
They say, “Stop being a hypocrite.” I say, “We’re all hypocrites, in some way or another.”
They say, “You are a teenager. Teenagers this and teenagers that.” I say, “No, I am not a teenager. I am just a human being. I am just a person growing each and every day in ways only a person could.”
Mariel Arriola lives in her home state of Minnesota. She will be a high school senior in the fall, but will also be earning college credits at a local community college and the University of Minnesota. She is unsure of what she will major in, but knows she will remain a writer for life. Since she wrote her very first stories, which were about dinosaurs, back in the fourth grade, Mariel has had a passion for the world of literature. She has had plenty of pleasant experiences with literature from loyally reading the 25 book-long “From the Files of Madison Finn” series, staying up late reading fan fiction about her favorite TV shows, writing a short story about a chlorophyll super heroine, to constantly imagining expansive fictional worlds and characters. She aspires to publish at least one novel for young adults – no matter if it is vampire-themed, retro, or about comas. She has more than 100 pictures of her cat on her iPod Touch, craves for smoothies, and enjoys yoga.