A Day in the Life of a Modern Teenager

The first alarm goes off and a pair of eyes pop open, a hand fumbles the the “off” switch, and the eyes close again. Back into a doze until the second alarm goes off. Feet hitting the floor, stumbling over to the other alarm on the bureau. The “off” switch again. Retainer put in it’s container. Feet on the floor, turn on a light, over to the stair, thudding down, down to the kitchen. Stop at the first drawer, grab a box. Open the cabinet, grab a bowl. Pour the cereal. Over to the refrigerator the feet pad. Light floods the kitchen for a moment while the milk is grabbed. Dark again. Milk is poured. Light again. Dark again. The brush of feet on the wood floor, over to the table. A bowl set on a placemat. The scooting of a chair closer to the table. Sleepy eyes staring into milk and grains as the spoon is brought to a mouth. Repeated until the cereal is gone. Back over to the kitchen the feet go, hands set the bowl in the sink, water fills the bowl. The feet pad to a second set of stair and head up them. Hair is pulled back into a bun, the water is turned on and splashed on a face. Soap follows and then water again. The face is dried off with a towel and hands grab toothpaste and a toothbrush. Toothpaste on toothbrush, brought to teeth. Bristles scour away the plaque and food. Water rinses off the excess toothpaste and then rinses out the mouth. Out of the bathroom, down the hall, to the bedroom. A shirt is grabbed from the closet, a skit and pair of shorts off the floor. Quick change and back to the bureau, this time for makeup and hair. Bangs pulled back, foundation on sponge, sponge on face. The foundation is evenly spread and next comes the mascara. A couple of swipes of the wand, a run-over of chap-stick on the lips. A necklace, ring, and watch are put on. Legs turn and knees bend to check a backpack. Grab a laptop from where it’s charging on the floor. The laptop goes in the main pocket of the bag, the charger is wrapped up and put in another pocket. A jacket is grabbed and put on, the backpack is grappled with and put on. Quick check around the room and lights turned off. Once again the feet go down the stairs, where they wait in the kitchen until everything is ready and it’s time to go. A quick race to see who sits in the front, bags in, car out of the garage.

The same path every day, but still the eyes love to observe. People on the sidewalks, stairs, roads. Over the bridge, up the school driveway, around the circle. The car stops, two people get out, and three say goodbye until the afternoon. Greetings are exchanged on the sidewalk up to the front door. Two option, two flights of stairs, doesn’t matter which. The feet trudge, praying the backpack doesn’t make them go tumbling down the stairs. Once at the right locker, the hands switch out books and binders. Sometimes the backpack gets lighter. Sometimes it gets heavier. Up two flights of stairs and down a hall to the first class of the day. Bells ring, binders are taken out, notes are taken. More bells, second class. Repeat steps of first class. Over and over throughout the day, pausing only for a crowded lunch (at which there are still bells), eyes desperately trying to stay open. 4 of the 5 days, there is a class with no notes, and that is a relief for the pained hands. One final bell, back down the stairs to the locker. Books exchanged again, often with heavy results, back up the stairs (one flight this time), through the lobby, and out the doors. Back down the sidewalk the feet go, eyes finally feeling a little more awake. Conversations with friends, in the car with the second set of feet, back down the driveway, and onto the road. Stopped up cars, stories of the day exchanged, annoying people complained about, maybe an errand run, and then once again back home.

Feet head back inside, up the stairs. Arms drop the backpack on the ground beside the bed and the feet head back downstairs. Food is hunted for and eventually found before being brought upstairs. A book is grabbed, or maybe the laptop, and the mouth chews as the eyes move along a page or screen. Eventually, the hands grab homework for the backpack, and the real trek begins. Fingers on keyboard, pencil in hand, eyes scanning books and notes. In a nutshell: homework. After a few hours, the feet hit the floor again and head back down the stairs, this time for dinner. A flurry of activity as hands grab silverware, plates, drinks, and pull back chairs. Everyone is seated, the day is discussed, any stories forgotten earlier are shared along with the information for what is coming up. Forks and knives scrape plates, drinks disappear, chairs are pushed back, and feet are on the move again. Plates are put on the counter or in the dishwasher by the hands, and the feet disappear once again up the stairs, back to the homework. Book spread out for a couple more hours before the feet are on the move again to the bathroom. Toothpaste on toothbrush on teeth, scrub, scrub, scrub. Shower time. Hot water on skin, shampoo and conditioner in hair, liquid soap on face, bar soap followed by a razor in armpits, shaving cream and razor on legs. Rinse everything off, turn the water off, grab towels. Hair is wrapped up, followed by the rest of the body. After everything is dry again, pajamas are put on and then it’s back to the homework for an hour or two before alarms are set again and the backpack is packed. Once the body is relaxing on the bed, the eyes close and try to stay that way. After 30-45 minutes, sleep is achieved and everything is reset to happen again. Day in, day out. Like clockwork. Like breathing.


You have just read a typical day in my life. Now, there are a couple of reason that the first paragraph is so much longer and more detailed than either of the other two. The first reason is that spent more time on the first paragraph because I was just starting and didn’t feel as much of a time crunch. The second is that I have the same routine every morning, but things can change at a moment’s notice. Meetings can be rescheduled, the order of my classes changes, something may distract me. My afternoons and evening are not quite as predictable.

That is not, however, what I want to talk about. There are problems with this image.

1. I barely have time to do the things I really want to do.

2. This doesn’t have my thought in it.

In regards to the first problem, it is so incredibly disappointing to not be able to do what I want to do. I have a goal to publish a book before I graduate high school, but right now I feel like I barely have time to write blog posts. I feel like such a bad friend for having not read some of the things my friends have written, whether they be nonfiction or fiction. I love drawing and painting, but with the amount of time that can take up, I can forget about doing either of those on a regular basis. Over the summer, I volunteered at the library three days a week for usually about 4 hours each of those days, but now I can only do a 2 hours on Saturday mornings and sometimes I have to miss because I’m either too swamped or have something else on my schedule. I say in the description of my day that I read when I come home, but in actuality, I’ve had less and less time to do that, which is terrible because it’s one of the few things I feel like I have any time to do at all, which is pretty bad because I use the things I like to do to keep myself from stressing too much about the rest of my life and to give myself time to decompress and have some me time.

As for the second . . . The thoughts a person has during the day are the most important thing, because they can be anything. The thing about my description is that I didn’t include the panic of getting not doing as well as you think you should be doing in one course or another. I didn’t write about the exasperated feeling I get when there is a slow walker in front of me. I didn’t mention the worry of others not liking me or me not liking me. There are so many thought that run through my head each day, some that repeat everyday, and others that don’t.

I was at the library today and found a couple of books I would like to read (if I ever have the time) called The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way and The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids. The first one is about 3 American students who moved to other countries (Finland, South Korea, and Poland). The author tells their stories of the education systems in those countries and what other countries are doing differently that has allowed their students to go from average to a force to be reckoned with. The second book is about several top-performing high school students and the pressures they feel to not only make straight A’s, but to be popular, go to parties, do sports, do things that will look good to colleges instead of something they actually want to do, and, most importantly, always look happy. I want to read the first one because I am interested in the different education systems around the world and why they are creating much better students than the vast majority of schools in America. I want to read the second one partly because I need reassurance that I’m not the only one feeling that way and partly because the description mentioned something I read an article about a couple of weeks ago: students committing suicide over something like having a B or having a hard time appearing happy all the time.

What drove us to this point? What happened in the path of our education that made us reach the point of students feeling like they would rather kill themselves than make a B in a class? Why did we decide it was a good idea to make it practically impossible  for students to do what they want to do? What can we do to change it? How can we make sure that no one else feels like there is no hope for their adulthood if they aren’t perfect in their teenage years?


3 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Modern Teenager

  1. A really powerful post. The journey you take the reader on in the first parts creates something of a “shadow” effect — we get to be your shadow. What a remarkable method for helping your reader empathize with your thesis that comes much later. Many people think a thesis must come up front, at the beginning. But you show strongly that this does not have to be the case. You show us, instead of tell us. And then we get to read your thesis with a different level of feeling. Thank you!

  2. Pingback: #MustRead Shares (weekly) | it's about learning

  3. Pingback: Is being “curious” about something enough? | I wonder

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