Teen Tales: Dreams, Desires and How Books Help Fulfill them

Aug 15, 2011

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?

13 comments:

Abby said...

You are darling, and absolutely right! I loved that feeling as a teenager. It was wonderful and we shouldn't forget it as adults. We should keep dreaming. I'm sure that is a lot of why I loved reading too - an escape into another world, if even for a brief time. I remember when I was really young I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was always into animals and thought I could fix anything.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I wanted a boy to love me, I wanted to figure out what career I would pursue after high school. I wanted high school drama to end! lol ;)

This is why I love writing YA as well. To make my characters dreams come true. Even if they have to hit a bunch of rough patches before they do. :)

Jenny said...

I wanted to have a nice place to live that I could call my own, I wanted to teach and I wanted kids. Hmm...I got 2 out of 3, not bad.

Oh, and I loved The Man from Snowy River. I wanted to ride my horse down a hill like that looking as cool as he did.

linda said...

Ah, yes, the wanting. I still haven't stopped wanting and dreaming. I always loved the way fiction allows me to live vicariously through amazing characters who got to experience the moments I dreamed about. :)

MKHutchins said...

I think I'm still like that now. I want to do more things than I have time for, so family and writing take the cake.

In college, my major had two grandmas who'd come back to school -- that really impressed me. Maybe I can't do everything I want to all at once (it's definitely time to be with my little kids right now), but when I'm wrinkled, I'm going to go and get myself that master's degree. That's my plan, anyway: do everything, but one thing at a time. Hopefully it works out. :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

I too had a lot of dreams as an teenager, I still have few of them unfulfilled.

Meredith said...

I had so many dreams when I was a teen! And I would imagine and pretend all of the time, especially when I was a young teen. It really was no surprise to my family and friends that I wanted to be a writer.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I love the way you put this.

In many ways I am still trying to live each of my dreams.

Of course I know that I can't live all of them but I can write my dreams and live them that way :)

David Powers King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Powers King said...

Well, my dream as a kid was to create a great story and share it with the world. I guess my dream hasn't changed one bit. Does that mean I'm still a kid? Sweet!

Christine Murray said...

I think that's why I love writing YA, there are so many dreams and all of them are still possible. Well, most of them. Great post!

Jolene Perry said...

Awesome post.
SO true.

You can do this in adult lit, too. But there's something so DIFFERENT about YA. Fresher, less inhibited.

Kari Marie said...

You nailed it! Completely. The thing about wanting as a teenager is that I believed everything was possible.

 
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