Time for Teen Tales round two! This is a weekly feature connecting the YA experience to YA literature.
Today I wanted to talk about dreams and desires. One thing that I remember well about being a teenager is how much I wanted things. I wanted a boy to love me. I wanted to drive. I wanted to be a scientist so I could discover the cure for diabetes, the disease that killed my grandfather when I was 14. I wanted to live in the jungles of Africa and study gorillas. I wanted to be a marine biologist and live on the ocean. I wanted those freakin' awesome new shoes I saw at the mall.
Some of those dreams were small, and some of them were huge. A part of me knew I couldn't have them all (I mean, some of them were flatly contradictory), but I could still dream about it. I could still want it, and I knew I could have whatever dream won out. I had confidence in my own dreams.
I think it was all that wanting and dreaming that drove me to love books so much. I might not be able to have all those dreams right now, or even in the future, but if I could read about them, I could sort of have them anyway. This may be the reason that teens in general are so drawn to entertainment. They're still young enough to dream about all the things they want, a little too young to have some of them, and (sometimes) old enough to know they can't have everything. Movies, songs, and books help bridge the gap between what they want and what they can't quite get.
For example, I once watched The Man from Snowy River with my friends at a slumber party in a cabin. I knew I would never wrangle horses in the Australian outback and fall in love with a handsome, backwoods boy. But I still wanted it, still dreamed about it. So the next day, my friends and I proceeded to traipse around the meadow talking in Australian accents and laughing as we made up romantic adventure stories.
Silly? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. Fulfillment of a dream? Sure. I got to pretend for a while that I was who I wanted to be. I got to try on a dream, have fun with it, and keep it as a memory while I tried on other dreams through other forms of entertainment. Then, after trying on enough of them, I found the dreams I really wanted and worked until I got them. I'm still working on a few.
This is why I love books. This is why I love YA, especially. Because I still get to dream. And in writing YA, I get to help somebody else dream, to try on a life through fiction, to explore the things they want until they find the dreams that make them who they are.
So, my friends, what did you want as a teenager? What were your dreams and desires? What fictional worlds helped you live them?