“I want an adult to tell me it’s hard to be a teenager.”
My friend Erin, an incredible young person, said this to me over the summer. One of her teachers had told her class they should enjoy their time now as teens before they become adults, because it’s the easiest life will ever be. Knowing what she and her peers are up against each day and wondering if this is supposed to be the pinnacle of their lives, she felt worried there was no hope for her future.
Looking at the facts: teens’ brain development is literally fighting against the physical changes they’re undergoing. This, paired with the truth that they are experiencing everything for the first time without previous experiences of their own to compare it to as they make decisions. It’s a beautiful time: everything is new. It’s an awful time: everything is new. Most days, they really want to get it right and are trying to. It’s hard to be a teenager.
I think every stage of life has its own difficulties, because in each, we are confronted with experiences we haven’t yet undergone, circumstances we don’t yet know how to create with. With each stage, we build upon what we already know, expanding our repertoire of prior knowledge. All of it leads us to the cusp, the transition to the next thing.
In Gothic architecture, “cusp” is the point at which two small arcs come together. In mathematics, it’s the place where the direction of a curve is abruptly reversed. In life, it’s a turning point, a movement, a transition. The ends of a crescent moon. They’re moments big and small, often hard-won. We work for them. They shape our lives.
And so, in this issue, we celebrate being on the cusp, the moment of action or change. We learn about Here., a new literary magazine in which Southeast Missouri high school students publish their writing and artwork, and Central Academy Press, a new newspaper by students that shares the stories of their peers. We think about anger, that emotion that can so effectively lead us to action, how it is portrayed in literature and how we can channel it when we experience it in our lives. And through our photo shoot, we meet women who tell us about a time in their lives when they were in transition. We hope these ideas help us live the action when it is time.
I am thinking being on the cusp is a little bit like being off the cuff — no preparation except all the days you’ve lived up to this point. It’s the moment when you realize that is enough, those days and all they’ve brought you, those days and all you’ve done with them packaged in a parcel delivered up to you on your doorstep, all of the sudden one day when you forgot to wonder when it was coming, after all those days you checked the door stoop during its transit to find nothing. Suddenly, after all that time. Ding dong. Mail’s here. Pull back the tape — you know what to do with it.
Unpack. Use the pieces of your life to build, to create, to take the step into what is for you.
Everything has conspired to prepare you for this moment.