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  1. There are many beliefs and notions regarding teenage life that I would agree with, and equally, many that I would not. Much of these ideas are presented by ‘experts’, the people who claim to have a higher understanding of teenage life than the subjects themselves. The difference between myself and the experts, and it’s a big difference, is that I am the one who is actually living with all the things they believe they know so much about. My friends and I, we all co-exist with the problems and flaws of teenage society. We live side by side, and thankfully, we rarely touch. But existing in such close proximity to what is surely danger alters our views, enough to make them seem at ends with those of the experts.

    But who are the experts? These psychologists and psychiatrists alike dedicate their lives to studying and understanding not only teenagers, but every human. Well I believe it’s impossible. You cannot predict a person’s behaviour or reactions based on statistics, paired with the person’s character profile. How can one individual possibly comprehend the mind of another? And how could you prevent yourself from going mad if it turns out that you can.

    Experts always talk about the issues of the teenage years: what we have to accomplish in a short time, the dangers, the risks, the difficulties, and the struggles. It’s all we ever hear, and it is swiftly accompanied by methods of prevention: how to talk to your kids, what they need versus what they want. And it’s all clearly aimed at parents. They’ll throw around statistics, studies, and findings, and it all gets shoved down our throats until we feel wracked with guilt over actions that may have had nothing wrong with them to begin with.
    But does anyone realise the problems we, as the teenagers, might have with this? Having the experts talk to your parents only and never to you (like your stupid and wouldn’t understand), having your parents feeling like they have to listen to a stranger in order to control you, being so afraid of making a mistake because it would mean ‘taking a new approach’ all over again. I imagine that it would be lonely, and more detrimental (in some instances) than it would be when no action was taken.

    Communication is a delicate subject. How much is too much? How much is too little? Will there never be a universal standard as to how we, as the human race, communicate?
    But teenagers do need help in these years, as long as it can start and stop when we want it. Teenagers would all benefit from having their parents there to help, and to guide them. There are going to be many things that a child moving toward adulthood would not understand and I know from personal experience that it is so emotionally beneficial to have a parent there to reassure you. But the immediate image that comes to mind is of a parent, desperate to discuss these changes with their child but not wanting to push them, and a teen, who’s desperate to know but too nervous to ask. Perhaps the hypothetical teen is afraid of how the parent will react, and perhaps the hypothetical parent is fearful of an argument between themself and the child.
    Communication is beyond important. And it’s not just communication; it’s also trust and being comfortable with the people around you, having them close to you always. Having people there to lift you up and support you no matter what, is a thing that should never go unappreciated.
    It’s not only a child having trust in their parent, but a parent having trust in their child. Allowing the child to make their own decisions and fend for themselves on occasion. The relationship between a child and a parent is something irreplaceable, so it stands to reason that it has unmeasurable influence on a child’s life.
    But there is another type of relationship that holds high priority for any teen: friends.
    Friends are of paramount importance to many teens. Friends are of high influence and can easily persuade any person, depending on how much you trust them.
    Personally, I think that an individual’s relationships with others can influence them to a greater degree, then the media, the environment, anything.

    And on the subject of the media, I'm sure that it does have a huge affect on some. But back to my previous point, a specific group of people, such as teenagers, can’t be rounded up into a ball of generalisations based on statistics and averages. So, a ‘percentage’ of teens would be highly and negatively affected by the images of the media (body image, social pressure etc.). And a ‘percentage’ of teens are hardly affected at all. And naturally there is another percentage situated directly in between the two. As to the debate that the media projects negative images, of course that’s true, but by who’s standard are the images negative? Clearly not the standards of the people running the TV stations, the newspapers, the magazines, the radios. Maybe there is something wrong with the censoring of the media. But who am I to say so?
    Technology as a whole presents both problems, and advantages.
    Advantages, for teenagers especially, include better communication and time-saving with things such as mobile phones, iPods, and the internet. Gone are the days of sending a letter to plan an outing, getting up to change a record, and going to the library to gather information for homework.
    The disadvantages include being bombarded with useless images and harmful ideas, all of which hinder rather than help. And then there is the classic and the all-important issue of cyber-bullying. Undoubtedly a tragedy for any teen and even adult, cyber-bullying leaves victims scarred and even depressed. What people don’t realise is that if you were to be cyber-bullied, it’s not as if the perpetrators are strangers. You know all of them and they know you. These are the people in your school, in your class or even in your circle of friends, the people you have to see every day. But everyone reacts differently, and not everyone responds to help when it’s offered. So no counter-action or prevention technique is fool-proof, no matter how hard you try.
    And technology goes hand in hand with another problem: alcohol.

    Alcohol ruins lives, it’s a fact. Sure it’s okay to have a drink now and then, but at least when you’re over the legal drinking age. And though I criticise experts’ data so much, studies have shown that the brain is not fully developed until the mid-twenties, so any damage done by alcohol before then is exaggerated.
    Alcohol makes people crazy, some people are simply rendered to a relaxed state, and some black-out completely. Black-outs can mean that you’ve done something horrible, or that you’ve done something you’ll regret later when it comes back to haunt you. On average, one teenager dies every weekend from alcohol related incidences, a statistic that shouldn’t ever exist. It’s sad that so many young people have died, and even if just to help others, have become a figure in a statistic.
    Naturally, you’ll never be able to eliminate alcohol from teenage culture. Not only do we have alcohol, but we have binge-drinking, rave parties, underground nightclubs and more.
    From my point of view, that of a teen, the thing that would most deter me from drinking in excess, would be knowing the affects. Similar to how I would never smoke, because I know about its link to cancer and other diseases. The beginning of this education starts at home.
    My mum and my family allowed me to have maybe a few drops of wine diluted down with lots of water, but only on special occasions. Now some would say that such behaviour would only encourage me to drink in later life. But, paired with my early tastings of wine, would be constant reminders of how dangerous alcohol is, and such things were drummed into me until I fully understood. So further education into the affects and damage caused by alcohol consumption is essential if such horrific statistics are ever to be lowered. I also think that utilising the media to project confronting images of dangerous, drunken behaviour would help. This has already started with the “Don’t turn a night out into a nightmare” campaign.

    Until such time as these problems have lessened, teenagers will just have to deal with it, myself included, which shouldn’t be too difficult.
    A decent reality check is that being a teenager doesn’t have to be difficult. But you need priorities, motivation, goals, everything that they say we need. Teenagers don’t have to go out and ‘party’, we don’t have to have mobile phones or iPods, and we certainly don’t have to do drugs or consume copious amounts of alcohol. These are all choices. Yes they are bad choices. But nonetheless, they are choices made at will. And not having the will or the want to do some things makes all the difference. Regardless of influences or pressures, the thing to remember is that all the consequences of a person’s behaviour lies on the shoulders of that person alone, and they are the only ones that can be held accountable. Sadly, not everyone realises this, and so teens do make mistakes, often. And sometimes those mistakes can have dreadful repercussions.
    And yes that is sad, but life at 15? For me it hasn’t had to be anything more than a challenge.
  2. “Are you here to tell me you want me, just, all of a sudden?”
    Will had to admit that such an accusation was quite close to the truth. After all, he did come here for a reason, a reason he intended to make explicitly clear.
    “That is the reason isn’t it? Well spit it out, I’m aging here.”
    My God, she’s stunning when she’s frustrated. Even in hiding it, her vexation showed through in her pink lips and her slightly creased forehead. And her hands, her long slender hands, were resting at her sides with her fingers teased into being claw-like. So beautiful.
    “You’re half right you know, but you’re wrong about something,”
    She waited, knowing he would continue. Will smiled in recognition of her patience; it was always a golden quality with her.
    “You’re wrong in the respect that wanting you isn’t sudden, it’s been plaguing me for months.”
    He looked away, he couldn’t bear it if she rejected this as more folly, when it was the torturous truth.
    ”So what then, you’re just going to use me and then ditch me huh?”
    “Don’t be so foolish, it nearly killed me leaving you before, and at that point I didn’t even know how I felt. Why would I want to hurt either of us ever again? I just – “
    “Oh. So you would stay because it prevents you from getting hurt, do you even give a **** about me or what!?”
    “Just shut up for five seconds! Please! I have to say what I came here to say. And you can yell at me all you want afterwards, but please, please just let me say my piece. Would you?”
    She made a small gesture. In preparation for his big confession, Will turned away to face the wall.
    “Ah...Danielle, do you have any idea how much you can torture me simply by being silent? You’d be surprised at the intensity of such a feeling. So I doubt you can comprehend the torrent of feeling I had when I left you. You have to understand that I only left because I couldn’t watch you throw everything away for me, you shouldn’t have, and I couldn’t let you. I realised that I didn’t know how I felt about you. I was too doubtful. And if it turned out that my feelings were less than what you thought...well I couldn’t let you abandon all the things you loved for something you thought was there, when it may not have been. I just couldn’t have had that on my shoulders, knowing I had taken you away. And, more importantly, I was sure that if I had stayed, then some day, not soon, but some day, you would have hated me.”
    He paused, had he really just said that? Had he ever thought it in the first place? All he knew was that he wasn’t lying, and that he couldn’t stop telling the truth.
    “One day, you would have realised your mistake, that you had left your family and friends for me. You would eventually have thought it to be an unfair deal. Admittedly I should have just told you everything before I went, but foolishly, I decided to run. I though it would be easier for both of us if I just left, like ripping off a bandaid. I thought, Ahh I might as well lose her now while she still has a chance, so I wont be here to see her despise me. But I was wrong. And now, I want to apologize for that. I’m sorry for leaving you,”
    He chuckled slightly, remembering what he was doing to her right now.
    “And for coming back, I suppose.”
    He turned to look at her. The sheer shock of seeing her face was enough to completely distract him. She was no longer on the defensive side of the court. In fact, it was like she had crossed the half-way line to better see his face. His fiery and confident Danielle was now defenceless, un-armed, completely engrossed in his words, and staring relentlessly through him.
    Suddenly, he understood. She was never told why, why she turned into a broken girl, why she refused to let anyone any nearer, most basically, why her William left her. Now she knew, and she had an explanation, and an apology. But she was still waiting. So he continued.
    “When I left, it was like there was something lacking in the very atmosphere, you weren’t there, and I knew it. I realised that for that one blissful year I had gotten used to feeling you around me, sensing your presence, if you will. And I couldn’t seem to figure out why I felt so heavy, when only a few days previous I hadn’t even known how I felt about you. I lost everything when I lost you. I’m on the edge of a peak that I can barely see or understand, and I’m terrified of falling. I – I just, want...Ah...”
    Danielle was crying, not hysterically, just two tears; one on each side. Her cheeks were a bright pink, flustered and, so, so irresistible. But her expression was the same; blank, resigned, waiting.
    Gathering himself, Will tried to focus on what he was saying. But his thoughts had only one destination, her sweet, tormented face. Remembering suddenly his final, most climactic statement, Will fixed his gaze on her face. It eased his fumbling and hesitation to do this, to see her, with ears only for his coming words.
    “Love or hate me, I’ll always want you. Only you. In my arms. Forever.”
  3. The Sun and the Moon
    Once, many thousands of millions of years ago, before the world had even truly begun, there was the Sun and the Moon. This fact, of course, is much like that of today. However, in those many million years ago, the Sun and the Moon were in love.
    It was a glorious time, filled with joy and equality, there were never any problems. With both astrological gods next to each other, their beauty was always reflected upon the earth. Crops grew in great abundance, animals were spectacularly coloured, people were not divided or competitive and all was well and just. There were no such things as race, religion or discrimination. The glory of the day left nothing else. With the light of the Sun, and the peace of the Moon, a vibrant glow was shone onto the world. The very atmosphere was filled with sparkling fragments of light and colour, as the light of the lovers’ reacted with the gasses in the air itself. And the pallor of the people’s skin altered the colour’s vibrancy, so when the light fell upon the people, it appeared darker and more solid. The plants made the light paler, and the animals altered it to be almost smudged. The air and the life all seemed to be painted with such lovely, vibrant colours. And with such beauty, the Sun and the Moon could do nothing but sing and dance constantly from the sheer joy of it.
    The earth lived like this for one thousand years. Then in an unexplainable minute, the grief suffering and pain, earned but lacking in all living things, was stored in one most evil being, the Devil.
    Fuelled by his hate for the entire world, he set out to destroy the earth.
    At this time in undiscovered history, the earth had an Emperor; also known as a king, ruler, czar, etc. The Emperor was generally a kind man, with a wife and children. It was the Emperor’s duty to communicate with the heavenly lovers above him. He would be the one to praise the Sun and the Moon on their beauty and passion, and to ask them to always bless the earth with their presence.
    With a perfectly masterful plan, the Devil began to set himself to work. He went to the home of the Emperor, a magnificent structure with a golden sheen, and sought out the Emperor’s wife. Once she was found, in the garden planting flowers, the Devil morphed into a classy, charming young man, with slick hair and a startling smile. He approached the Emperor’s wife, who was very beautiful, and began talking seductively with her. He offered her flowers, gold, beauty, marriage, love, and children. After such persuasive pleading, the wife was swayed into helplessly loving the Devil in disguise. Within one week of being seduced, the Emperor’s wife left her husband, and fled with his children to be with the Devil. The Devil’s plan was working out splendidly.
    The Emperor wept for many days, huddled and hiding from the despair that continued to find him. In a moment of broken-hearted-ness, the broken Emperor looked to the sky for salvation, and was enraged and maddened by what he saw. As always, the Sun and the Moon were dancing and laughing in pure, uncensored joy. Why should they be so happy if I can not? The Emperor was beside himself with an accumulation of grief and anger.
    The next hour, the Emperor summoned a Mage, a mystical human emblazoned with magical power. Mages in that era were habitually ready to help any one who required service, regardless of the service itself. With a traitorous act in mind, the Emperor paid much in gold for the Mage’s services.
    Within in the same hour, the powerful Mage had done his work.
    Before the eyes of every soul in the world, the Mage lifted his power high into the air and gripped the Sun and the Moon. Holding them both fast, the Mage, by the emperor’s orders, pulled the two celestial beings in opposite directions. As they were being torn apart, the Moon wailed in sadness, and the Sun burned increasingly brighter, in an attempt to burn the invisible hands of the Mage’s power, but to no avail. They reached for each other, they scratched at the magical hands, and they tore at their own faces in desperate sorrow and anguish. The shrieking rang throughout the world; no ears were left free of blood. The animals hid, frightened by the sight. The people wailed and gripped their cheeks in imposed pain, willing it to be over. The Sun blazed so bright, men and women, children even, went blind. The Moon screamed so violently, craters appeared on her surface from the effort, and many humans became deaf.
    Eventually, the Sun and the Moon were at opposite ends, with the earth’s mass blocking their view of one another. As this was done, all colour left the air, and the skin of the humans retained only one dull colour, the animals learnt to make their own colour, as did the plants. And when the lovers were parted, the world was plunged into darkness, for the first time; night was created. The people screamed and wailed, the animals bellowed, voices full of sorrow. The plants drooped heavily to the ground with resignation. The humans looked up to see the Moon, alone in the dark night, with no sighting of her beloved Sun. it began to rain all around the world, perhaps the drops were tears, or perhaps not. The people cried for the Sun and the Moon. With the rain came a cry of despair from the two lovers, a raw weeping and wail. Such a cry hurt all the ears that heard it. The cold came to join the night, and the humans and animals longed for the warmth. By the next twelve hours, they received the warmth they craved. As the Moon rolled submissively over the sky, the Sun reappeared, and catching a glimpse of its beloved Moon, became enraged by the injustice and sorrow thrust upon them both. The anger burned and burned, seeping through every pore of the Sun’s being, it heated the earth to a staggering degree. For the first time, the people and animals knew what it was to suffer in sweltering heat. And after a time, the people grew used to dull earth, blue sky, white clouds, and all assigned colours. But in their longing for the coloured air to return, the humans grew bitter and heartless, as did the violated Sun, while the Moon grew weary and ever sadder. Toughened by the hardship of labouring under the sun, the people sought to ease their vehemence by the taunting of others. No longer did people help one another and no longer was there such a thing as equality in everyone, no, as long as there were people, there would always be a competition. And so it went, day after day, hate and misery absorbed everyone, and it was all the people could do to bear it.
    During this time, the Emperor’s wife was shown the true face of her demon lover, and she fled with her children. When she approached her first husband, who was weak with guilt and surrender, she begged for his forgiveness. When she explained the trickery that was used, the Emperor forgave his wife and allowed her to be his love once again. In his relief of having his partner with him once and for all, he summoned the old Mage, who was to try and reunite the Sun and the Moon. It was now fifty years after the separation, but with the life expectancy for humans in that time, this was merely a quarter of a human’s life. The Mage came swiftly, but by now he was older and some of his power had faded, and though he was not as brilliant as he used to be, there was still no other mage in the world to equal him. He tried for many days to reunite the celestial lovers, but to no avail. Word spread of the Mage’s attempts, and soon the whole world was begging for the restoration of their old lives. The Mage worked for a whole year to bring the Sun and the Moon back together, but within that same year, the effort of such a huge task took its toll, and it eventually killed him. With all hope lost, the earth receded back into silence. And after years of wailing, the cries of the Moon faded into the whisper we all know as the wind.
    Before his death, the Mage managed to offer one last gift to the Sun and the Moon. A Mage’s spell, almost like an enchantment that still carries on today, one that will give some joy to the heavenly gods. Every year or so, the Sun and the Moon meet again in a total eclipse, to embrace and kiss and love each other once again. This only lasts a half hour at the most. But when they meet again, there is no laughter, no joy, no colours, or singing or dancing, there is nothing. Rather, the world is submerged in darkness, a shadow cast by the lovers’ sorrowful memories of the fateful day they were parted.
    Over time, that sorrow has seized to matter to the humans, or to have any affect on anyone. These days, the eclipse is observed by the thousands, and televised to all who missed it. It is a novelty, a petty miracle that fascinates and wonders. But no one ever feels sorrow for the Sun or the Moon. And nobody ever notices how the wind, such a silent cry, is strongest when the eclipse ends. And when the eclipse does end, the people are sad not for the lovers, but for themselves at losing such a beautiful sight as the one they beheld. They do not realise that the sight is one of despair. This is because of the ignorance of humans, and our denial of there ever being any suffering so momentous.
    Because eventually, no matter of the event, everything is forgotten…