How I Survived Being a Teenager

As teenagers, my friends and I regularly vented and rambled through a blogging platform called Xanga. It was pre-Facebook, Twitter and the like. Recently, though, Xanga announced they were shutting down the network for good, inspiring us to look at our blogs one last time.

It had been years since I last looked, and going into it, I didn’t think I’d be that surprised. I remembered there would be an entry about my Sweet 16 (a trip to Manhattan with some girl friends). There would be some posts about photography (I was just getting into it!), some complaining about homework, some random questionnaires…

But there was so much more.

Among the entries of photos and questionnaires, I was sad. I was full of self-doubt and felt left out. I was seeking approval, angry with my family, and didn’t think anyone cared about what I had to say. And I wrote it all down.

To be honest, I was pretty surprised when I saw this. I had forgotten about that side of myself. But when I read the supportive comments from friends (“you are a beautiful person!”) it all started to come back to me: Xanga was our safe place. It was a place in which we could express our true feelings about the confusing, emotional world of being a teenager. After all, it was way easier to express ourselves from the safety of our keyboard than it was to do so in person, and so we ended up forming this intimate support network online.

I can’t believe I had forgotten—that network was so important to me. I could tell my friends when I was depressed, stressed or even elated. They’d support me no matter what, and I’d do the same for them. We were all in it together. What would I have done without that network there? Without those close bonds? Who or what would I have turned to?

Looking at those old blog posts reminded me that at the end of the day, it’s important that we all express ourselves. No matter how you do it or what you have to say, when you’re happy or when you’re sad, just let it all out! Turn to others for support; let them turn to you, and together, you’ll grow happier.

Jess Teenager

Here I am at 17, off to senior prom!


  1. Jessica – thanks for sharing! I know I struggled with the same things as a teenager. It’s such a vulnerable time. If things are rocky at home it makes it even more challenging to find your footing. I, too, reached out to friends on instant message, AOL, email, anything that allowed me to connect and be real when it was hard to admit how I was feeling. Through writing things down, I’ve been able to heal some parts of me I was afraid to share with the world. Or even my best friend. Getting it out there slowly, in small bits, through blogging and other online avenues has been a huge part of my journey.

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Jessica, this is such a wonderful story! Thank you for being open to share it with us.

    I’m inspired by the way xanga worked for you back then. That is exactly the type of connection we want to foster with the HeartStories app, like instant girlfriend time for the digital generation.

    Fun prom pic btw! You look so beautiful and happy!

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