“It’s bad timing, but a lot of kids become teenagers just as their parents are hitting their mid-life crisis. So everybody’s miserable and confused and seeking that new sense of identity.”–Laurie Halse Anderson.
Who is their best self at 14 years old? Pretty much no one. That’s why most of us will look back on ourselves at the ages of 12 to 17 with a horrified thousand-mile stare… because a thousand miles is the safest amount of distance we’d like to place between present and teenaged “me.” Depending on the age, one’s teen years might have had the misfortune of coinciding with the Internet. Myspace, AOL chat rooms, and a whole host of early Internet technologies were ready to help teenagers make fools of themselves—this time with textual proof!
One day, Reddit decided to dredge up some unwelcome memories by asking users about their most regretful deeds from the years that ended with “teen.” What followed were haunting tales about embarrassing user names, regretful romantic gestures, and so much terrible, terrible poetry. Recoil from the keyboard to these 42 embarrassingly stories about the most cringey things people did as angsty teens.
42. Peace Song
One time all my friends were fighting, so I shared a link to the “Where is the Love” music video by the Black-Eyed Peas on my Facebook page thinking they’d see it and be moved by it.
41. Asking the Real Questions
I literally and non-jokingly asked my mom, “Why do I have to make my bed if all humans are meant to do is pass on their genes?”
We had just started biology. It hurts to remember.
40. Meat Your Reality
From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a vegetarian, but my mum wouldn’t let me until I was 11. And then when I was 11, she changed her mind and said I had to wait until I was 16.
So, in retaliation, I printed out a load of “stop animal cruelty” photos and information about battery farms and glued them all over stuff I owned because I figured she’d eventually “see the light.”
Didn’t really work because it was mostly on my notebooks and school folders which, funnily enough, I left in my locker at school, so she never really saw. The only thing it did achieve was my classmates waving ham sandwiches at me and asking me how I could not LOVE bacon.
39. One Day, You Too Will Realize Her Real Lies…
In middle school, a friend told me that she had thought of a really clever phrase, “Real eyes realize real lies.”
I thought it was the deepest thing to ever come out of someone’s mouth & was impressed with her for creating it. A few months later I saw a post on Facebook with that exact same phrase & you could say that I realized her real lie.
38. Being Emo
Did a Myspace “photoshoot” where I pretended to eat paint, but I didn’t have an easel, so I used the back of a frisbee, then made everything black and white except the paint. I don’t remember why.
Also, put edgy Marilyn Manson lyrics in my MSN+ username in blood red.
Pretended to cry in my sleep at sleepovers.
Then the scene years came about, and suddenly I decided I had to show the world I was the most obsessed with rubber ducks, so I told everyone I had like eighty (I had two). Everyone bought me ducks for the next few years. I didn’t like rubber ducks but no way in hell would I admit to lying.
37. The Thought Well Wasn’t That Deep
Oh man, I was the singer in a band in high school and I did a ton of Jaden Smith stuff.
During one of our biggest shows, I went on a super long rant about how people can be fake and high school was prison or something.
I thought I was resonating with everyone on a big level, but now my friends tell me they thought it was the stupidest thing they’ve ever heard to this day.
36. Out of Range
Called a radio station and requested “Amazed” by Lonestar to get played for an online girlfriend, who lived four hours away and had no way to hear the radio station lol.
I was super cool.
35. Stick It to the Man
I’ve recorded a lot of dumb songs in my life. I’m pretty open about sharing them all.
However, there’s this song I wrote when I was 16 about our high school’s “oppressive dean” that is so unbelievably embarrassing and “deeeeeep” that I have nightmares about someone finding the recording of it and putting it online.
34. That Better Not Be Permanent Ink
Wrote the lyrics to NIN’s “Happiness in Slavery” in magic marker on the walls of my bedroom closet in my parents’ house.
33. In Perfectly Depressing Harmony
This older Facebook friend of mine at the time (who I’d added because we were both in high school marching band) posted some of the lyrics to “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”
I commented with the next line of the lyrics. He commented with the next line. I promptly googled, copied, and pasted the next line of lyrics, even though I totally knew them by heart. We kept going like this until he messaged me because I was so deep and on his level. We started dating a couple days later.
32. Among the Elites
Not exactly deep but pretty cringe. In middle school, I thought I was really cool and different for being nerdy (and a girl) and so I made a private Facebook group where I posted about sci-fi movies and what to do in a zombie apocalypse etc.
To get in the group, I made people do a “quiz,” except it was all opinion questions like “Which is better, Alien or Predator?” and if their answer wasn’t my opinion they couldn’t join the group lol.
31. Lyrics from Heaven, Angst from Hell
I once wrote a really angsty poem, tied it to a helium balloon and let it float away.
I hoped someone far away would find it one day and marvel at how deep and mysterious I must be.
30. Teen Witch?
I have two I can think of. The first one, I was 15 and in a kids’ psychiatric ward because I was suicidal. So it was essentially a bunch of emo kids in one place. It was my first day there, and we had a group music therapy class. They went around and asked everybody something like “What’s your favorite kind of music?”
Me, feeling the need to be the most dramatic emo teen ever, said something along the lines of “I don’t care about music. The world is so dark and cruel that music is just a distraction” and started sobbing, and then I was taken to individual therapy. In a few weeks, me and the other kids had a laugh about it.
Second, was when I was about 16 and had my first “real” boyfriend. It was really unhealthy, but at the time, of course, I assumed he was “the one.” So this one time he was mad at me for who knows what, so I decided to take matters into my own hands, and googled how to do a love spell.
So here I was, sitting in my bright pink bedroom, with One Direction posters on the walls, with the lights off, trying to do a love spell. There were candles, a few things of his, lots of chanting. Essentially, the spell was supposed to make him have unrelenting love for me no matter what. A few months later I broke it off with him, and he borderline stalked me for a year or two, so maybe it worked.
29. You’ve Got Angst
Had an AIM away message in high school that was, “I must be the greatest actor in the world because everyone believes I’m happy.”
28. No Color, No Joy
When I was in high school (during the Myspace days) I used to take many photos of random things on my digital camera. Edit them in black/white in certain sections except for the object being photographed and uploading them to myspace with a “deep” title.
Holy moly, I remember. I used to use Photobucket as an Editor.
27. The Rising Sun
I once wrote “We’re all just looking for stars in the sunshine,” on my Facebook. People commented, teasing me that the sun was a star, so of course, I got to feel all smart and pretentious because that’s what I meant, and they just didn’t understand my deep poetry.
26. Doesn’t Sound That Different From Today
Shut myself in my closet with my portable CD player, hugged my knees to my chest, and stared into nothingness, letting myself FEEL “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Then I listened to it ten more times, lip-synching along with passion, occasionally crying.
And I don’t want the world to see me, cause I don’t think that they’d understaaaand, when everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am…
Yup. Deep stuff. Don’t look at me, I’m so complex, wait do look at me.
25. Too Many Feelings
Where do I start…
Take off all my clothes and stand in front of my bedroom window to be “seen.”
Used the word “maiden” and “yearning” in my “poems.”
Watched every single Beatles interview on YouTube and cried because no one understood.
Spent endless hours in chat rooms trying to heal strangers’ loneliness.
Wrote letters to boys that did so much as lend me a pencil.
Contributed to society through Yahoo Answers.
You get the idea.
24. The Book of Dirt
I once wrote a manifesto on what kind of drama was going on in seventh grade and how I would deal with it. Found it years later and I die laughing every time I read it.
23. You Had a Point
Many years ago, I said to a friend, “When it comes to the dark, you aren’t afraid of what’s there, you are afraid of what’s not there.” I thought it was some profound moment. He said I was an idiot.
Strangely though I was never scared of the dark after thinking that.
22. What Exactly Would He “Just Know”?
Daydreamed that a shooter would come to my school and take me hostage in front of my psychology teacher, who I had a crush on. He would stare into my face and I’d stare back with a look of heartbreak and he’d just know…
21. Any Writer’s Workshop is Good Though
In middle school, me and two of my closest friends decided to start a journal (each had their own) in which we would write terribly cringy poems, song verses, random quotes we thought were deep and bad doodles every night before going to bed.
This went on for about two years, and we’d sometimes even email each other our rough drafts for revision or just to show off when we were very proud of a particular piece. Nearly a decade later, we still occasionally stumble upon our old journals or emails and Jesus… saying they are bad is an understatement.
20. Wake Me Up Inside
When I was in seventh grade, my mom finally let me join Myspace. During these tumultuous, pre-hormonal years, I loved Evanescence.
I decided it would be really tight if my Myspace name was “xX Am I too Lost to be saved? Xx.” My mom found out and threw a fit. The reference (naturally) went over her head and she thought I was for sure suicidal.
After the angst fueled argument in the kitchen, I stormed off to my room, waited for AOL to do its thing, and made a new and improved Myspace name “~~don’t try to fix me I’m not broken~~”.
Also, my profile picture was likely something rotated sideways, contrasted as heck, with some sort of batwing Photobucket stickers on top. RIP Myspace.
19. Troll Regrets
There was this app back in the day called “Thumb,” where people could ask each other questions about what they liked and didn’t like. I suppose the original intent was to stimulate constructive debate and opinion exchange.
Well, 11-year-old cringy Atheist me decided that it was a fantastic idea to filter exclusively by the “Religion and Science” category and wildly offend any Christians that were asking religious questions and telling them why I thought they were stupid for believing in God. Not exactly my best phase.
18. A Forum of Woe
Once someone gave me total control over an online forum (the girl was too busy with college or something), it was a very lighthearted thing, like “we love weird guys.” The girls would post about how they liked some type of guy with certain looks (some of them liked nerds, others were into metalheads, and so on) and some guys came to us to get their self-esteem up a little. Looking back, I realize “We love weird guys” was a pretty wholesome place, actually.
I was deep in my “post-modern, nihilist” phase and, after spending some time spamming the forum with dumb threads about how everything was pointless or whatever, I just… changed the name to something *very* deep and stuff: “We Aren’t.” I wrote a pretty stupid manifesto about “being different” (a “we live in a society” essay, ugh) and essentially destroyed the whole thing. The forum broke apart soon after and everyone hated me.
TBH I didn’t remember this whole thing before now and I’m feeling somewhat guilty. 15-year-old me was a jerk.
17. Aiming for Inner Peace
I set up a whole bunch of candles and incense. I made myself a pot of (horrible) blackberry tea. I wanted to meditate but didn’t know what to say.
My parents walked in, stared for about three seconds and just cracked up. They were laughing so hard they struggled to close the door.
16. Blooming into Something Confusing
When I was 16, I had a pretty bad breakup and decided to hoe my way through it and basically had a mantra of “I don’t like boys, I screw them.”
If that weren’t bad enough on its own, I couldn’t exactly say the second half of that mantra around adults so I ended up saying “I don’t like boys…” a lot and I was absolutely oblivious that I was making the adults in my life question my sexuality.
15. Wake Up, Donnie
Oh God. I wrote the freaking numbers from Donnie Darko on my arm.
14. Cringe from Future’s Past
When I was 14, I used to use futureme.org which is a site where you can send letters to yourself in the future. In most of these, I’d put whatever songs I was listening to and try to act all poetic and deep.
“The song has now changed. Time of the season this time. I do very much so hope that you have a boyfriend. Please kiss him for me.”
Every so often I get one of these letters and it’s the cringey gift that keeps on giving.
13. Smarty Pants
When I was a kid (like 12 or 13) I was given an IQ test.
I used to quote the score to people.
Makes me want to simultaneously projectile vomit and punch the younger version of me in the damn face.
12. I’m Not a Part of Your System
I used to cut the tags off my shirts because I didn’t want society to label me as small or medium.
11. Didn’t Plan on That
Went abroad for a year when I was 15-16, was given a notebook time capsule thing in the first month to write my thoughts/hopes/etc. down on, so that I could be shown them again at the end of my stay eleven months later.
I wrote something along the lines of “none of this matters” in the center of the page and then gave it to the supervisor to be put away.
When I got it back at the end of the year, I hadn’t remembered what I’d written, so I was actually quite excited to open up the book. Instant disappointment.
10. Drama, Without the Commercial Breaks
I told a boy that wanted to go out with me that I was afraid that I would never love again after having had my heart broken, and that I needed to find myself.
There was quite a bit more dramatic, soap opera terminology in this little speech, and he bought it, hook, line and sinker because he apparently lived in the same mental soap opera.
9. One Day, My Prince Will Come in Dubs
I used to get dressed in my Halloween costume which was an old-fashioned dress and stand on the balcony and cry because I knew I would never meet my true love… who was Inuyasha at the time. I was 14.
8. A+ Reaction
In ninth grade science, I was bored sitting in my desk and had the thought, “Our teachers come to school to learn, too… FROM US… they just don’t realize it!”
I thought it’d be such a cool/wicked-clever thing to say, so I purposely looked for an opportunity to use it. That opportunity came at the end of class, when we got our graded homework assignments back. I vaguely recall I got a 10/15 on mine, so as soon as the bell rang, I half speed-walked out of my desk and up to the teacher’s desk and said, loud enough for the other students behind me to hear, “Hey, Mr. [teacher]? Just so you know, this doesn’t define me. Some people are 10/15 science students but 15/15 people.”
And I literally interrupted what he was about to say to blurt out “You come to school every day to learn too, you just don’t realize it.” That man gave me the nicest damn smile and said something like “I’ll keep that in mind, thank you.”
And I just pointed at him and nodded. It didn’t help that that was one of my better grades throughout the class, too… 14-year-old me was just a real jerk.
7. Too Edgy 4 U
In tenth grade, I wore a hood and never walked properly with the class (e.g. I’d walk in the ditch if we were walking somewhere), I thought I’d be mysterious and deep, showing that I’m a special snowflake.
To make it even worse, I tried getting a reputation as a psychopath which I did by talking about bombs and terrorists every conversation and being generally edgy.
6. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
When I was in sixth or seventh grade I printed out a picture of a black rose with the caption “The life your child leads is not the one you want them to lead,” and taped it to my door.
I thought it was super deep and meaningful because I mistook “My parents want me to get good grades so I can be successful” with “my parents are trying to take control of my life.” They never gave me heck for it, though they were appropriately puzzled when I put it up—I kinda cringe at the edginess when I think about it now.
Additionally, once my mom took my computer because I was giving her an attitude and I took my iPod outside and blasted Linkin Park while I sulked. I was a really lame tween.
5. Lights! Camera! Dad Cringe!
There was this app for the iPad which lets you add super cool special effects to any video.
There was some competition going on within the app where they’d reward the best mini-movie made with it. I recorded one where I made my dad act as if he’s getting destroyed by a laser shooting robot. The acting was the kind you’d be super embarrassed to even show to your wife, but I thought it was J.J. Abrams-grade action. And then I sent the link to all of my Facebook friends asking them to vote for it and share so that I can win.
I’m sure my entire class then had laughed at my dad at least once.
4. The Young Bard
I wrote poetry. Each one was about death, being misunderstood, living as cogs in a machine, and the worst culprit was “You left me in this endless rain when I gave my umbrella to you only for you to give it to someone else,” aka me dealing with a breakup at 13.
I submitted it to my English teacher for an assignment and she gave me an A+.
3. That’s Why There Are Second Drafts
Back when I was actually 14 or 15, I was obsessed with M. Night Shyamalan and his “twist” endings. So any English creative writing essay I did had to have a really forced twist ending.
The worst was one where I was writing from a pilot’s point of view, and the twist that the whole time he was one of the 9/11 hijackers, and the story ended with the crash.
2. Poetry is the Key to the Goth Soul
When I was a freshman in high school, I had a crush on a gothy senior and wrote a poem called “Mirror Image” because I thought we were so much alike.
She read it. She cried. And was yelling “what does this mean?” to the air as her friend took her away to calm down. “That was a good sign, right?” I told myself.
The poem was written in poorly understood middle English. Lots of “Thous” and “Thines” that make no sense.
1. The Way We Were
When I was a 16-year-old emo in ’07, I was fully committed to getting a tattoo that said “cut across the dotted line” on my wrist.
Unfortunately, my brother trumped me in the deep stakes by writing song lyrics in his own blood on his bedroom ceiling.
I didn’t get the tattoo (thankfully), I don’t remember what the lyrics were, and my brother is just fine now—heavily into Joy Division, but that’s okay because it’s mature emo.