Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

On Being 14 Years Old, The 80’s, and Hindsight

When I think about being 14 years old, I think about the tacky, fluorescent beauty of the 80’s, about unreciprocated crushes, and about finding out that my mom was having an affair with my brother’s hockey coach.

It’s funny how memories that happened so long ago can feel like yesterday and also like the fog of another person’s life we shed the skin from long ago.

At 14, I didn’t yet know that truly living is much too vague of an idea to ever own. I assumed that by 30, which was as old as I could imagine, I’d be running my own company, have a couple of kids, a man who adored me, and know all of life’s answers to the questions still forming in my teenage heart. I assumed that I’d know what truly living was. That I’d be doing it.

14 was one of those years that, when looked at through Risky Business Ray Bans, too much clashing jewelry, and the word scrunchy describing both my hair-tie and my socks – feels like perfection, now.


Then, though, at actual 14, it pretty much sucked. I mean, I was thankful to finally have a bra and had gotten my braces off, but man, talk about awkward.

Being a freshman in high school sucked. At least for me. Having not yet overcome my intense shyness, and convinced that by having feathered hair and blue eyeshadow meant that I’d blend and be accepted clashed with the fact that for the first two months of high school, my friend Carol and I ate near the lockers in the dorky building, located furthest away from the cool one we’d hang in, senior year.

It meant navigating 981 students, all our age, and all who seemed cooler, more together, and more at home in the sea of the stinky cesspool that teenagers who are 14 create, no matter where they are.

It also meant my friend Carol, not eating alone, and not ever feeling alone, even though my mom was the crazy one back then.

It meant that every single Friday night, I made money babysitting two kids that were simultaneously annoying and amazing.

It meant that there were cracks in my perfect suburban upbringing that prepared me for the cracks in this life.

Being 14 meant power, and boys.

It meant independence and earning my own money, even if that happened from babysitting the kids who knew more than I did and drove me crazy by begging to have 10 more minutes before bedtime and then telling their parents on me when I let them stay up.

Being 14 also meant that I was invincible.

I miss that feeling. The feeling of life just beginning.

And I miss the 80’s. Billy Idol and concerts and Metallica and all of it so fresh and new and meaningful. I miss being 14 and lying on my floor, absorbed in the music.

Teenage girl lying on floor 80s floyd_edited-3

It’s been too long since I’ve stared at my ceiling, eyes closed, absorbed by the power of notes and voice and lyrics and the away.

But I’m also really happy that I’m no longer 14, and hormonal, and wondering how it’s possible to carve a place for myself in this world. While being in my 40’s, raising a kindergartner has its own challenges, but at least I now know that blue eyeshadow will NEVER be back, no matter what the covers of the magazines say at the grocery store.

That the friends and the boys who mattered then aren’t the ones that matter for always, and that an unplanned life tends to unfold as it should.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where we gather and finish a sentence. This week’s hosts:
Me (Kristi from Finding Ninee)
And your co-hosts, Kerri from Diagnosed and Still Okay (this week’s sentence thinker upper) and Dana from Kiss My List. Join us?

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  • Dana - That’s heavy stuff with your mom…I can’t imagine dealing with that now, much less at 14. But I know what you mean about life just beginning. We didn’t feel that way at 14, though. Or I didn’t. I felt like life hadn’t started yet, as I’m sure most teenagers do. And I wore electric blue mascara that was horribly awesome.April 9, 2015 – 10:04 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Isn’t it weird how we didn’t feel like that back then? That blue mascara was awesome and not horrible and that life was just starting? I kinda miss that feeling even though being 14 sorta sucked 🙂April 9, 2015 – 11:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - I wish I would do some of the carefree things I did as a tween before I was actually allowed to do stuff. I had a decent size room but I kept my record player in my closet which was a walk thru to the bathroom. I used to lay in the bottom of the closet and listen to music hours at a time. Fourteen was definitely not my best social year.April 9, 2015 – 10:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Fourteen I think was maybe nobody’s best social year?? I mean talk about awkward. Why the record player in the closet? More privacy?April 9, 2015 – 11:49 pmReplyCancel

      • Kenya G. Johnson - Well I do remember doodling on the wall there where no one could see. So listening to music. Writing poetry. And my first name with whoever’s last name I was in love with at the time.April 10, 2015 – 7:28 amReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - OOH doodling on the wall? You naughty girl! 🙂 Do you still have any of the poetry? You should use it in a blog post if you do. I love reading stuff that I wrote as a teenager – it’s so bad that it’s funny.April 10, 2015 – 5:29 pmReplyCancel

          • Kenya G. Johnson - I do think I have everything on the actual typed paper. I think most of them are good, so I would be hurt if someone gave the comments section the silent treatment. LOL. I’ll most likely not share it.April 10, 2015 – 5:54 pm

  • Emily - I miss that feeling too, of life just beginning. In hindsight, it felt so much less stressful and yet, maybe it wasn’t. I know I was also a moody, emotional teenager who was always lamenting something and that in itself is also stressful. So, like you, I’m happy I’m not 14 anymore and yet it is fun to reflect on who we were…April 9, 2015 – 10:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It so felt less stressful, in hindsight anyway! Maybe more so now though because we were so figuring out who we were, right? But man, that lamenting stuff felt pretty good, didn’t it???April 9, 2015 – 11:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri - How weird is it that every time I hear Billy I think of you? Or that we were both freshman and 14 in 1985 entering the not so much hallmark years. Or that we both would not go back for one red cent but yet are happy we can now look at that hair and not puke in our mouths 🙂April 9, 2015 – 10:11 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - How weird is it that I LOVE that you hear Billy and think of me?? I sortof miss the hair. I mean not really because yes to puking in our mouths but Gawd I kinda miss those days!!April 9, 2015 – 11:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - Yes, what was with that blue eyeshadow at 14? Oh my god. I wore it as well but only to dances. My sister plastered it on my eyes and I thought I was oh, so, cool. Nevermind I looked 10.April 9, 2015 – 10:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Blue eyeshadow was like fairy dust back in the 80’s. Never mind you were 14 or looked 10 or 8. That stuff was pure magic and pretty much a law.April 9, 2015 – 11:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Omg, you so brought me back and like you I am seriously glad I am no longer 14 though my recent channel surfing experience with Joey Lawrence also as you know made me realize that age, in general, really isn’t just a number!April 10, 2015 – 1:58 amReplyCancel

  • Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom - I’m writing about babysitting and Billy Idol today, too. Oh, and how I didn’t much like being 14 also! I feel much more comfortable in my 40s, but I do still think we probably carry around that awkward 14 year old inside us more than we think.April 10, 2015 – 8:12 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think you’re right about us carrying around that awkward teen inside of us more than we realize. Isn’t it weird how we still can feel the way we felt then? Time is a funny thing.April 10, 2015 – 5:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Alliw - I wish we’d known each other when we where fifteen. “I didn’t yet know that truly living is much too vague of an idea to ever own,” how could we? I’m still trying to figure it out. And your conclusion, about an unplanned life unfolding as it should? Well, that’s genius!April 10, 2015 – 8:17 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Me too Allie! I might have gotten you into trouble though…. Here’s to our unplanned lives! xoApril 10, 2015 – 5:44 pmReplyCancel

  • marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Fourteen was a really awkward stage for me, too. But I do miss believing that ANYTHING was possible for my future and dreaming of all those wonderful possibilities is what kept the motivated to move forward.April 10, 2015 – 8:49 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I miss wondering how I’d turn out and feeling like I could be anything! I suppose we still can be anything but it gets more complicated than it is at 14. Thanks Marcia!April 10, 2015 – 7:09 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - OMGOSH, I just wrote an essay about how much I LOATHED babysitting, on the other hand, Billy Idol ROCkS.

    I don’t know you….But I love you.

    xxxxApril 10, 2015 – 10:16 amReplyCancel

  • Kim - 14 was rough for me – the only good thing about it is that was the year I started running cross country and track – something that I happened to be good at:)April 10, 2015 – 1:10 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I sucked at track and cross country but LOVE that it was the time when you found your life’s passion (and now Hunter! how cool is that???)April 10, 2015 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

  • A. J. Goode - I had forgotten about just laying on the floor and staring at the ceiling, listening to music that seemed SO meaningful! I used to do that all the time, but with Elton John and Janis Ian (I think I’m a few years older than you!).

    I remember those same feelings of feeling like life was just about to begin–scary, exciting, and made so much more memorable by the blue eye make-up.April 10, 2015 – 1:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Valerie Newman - 14 was such an awkward age. I got my haircut like Paul McCartney back when I was 14. To have an adolescent’s problems as an adult would be a piece of cake. So easy to look back and laugh, but it was such a time of turmoil.April 10, 2015 – 4:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Hey, but I am ALL ABOUT the high-waisted pants again. Just no pleats, please. Like the Z. Cavaricci’s I wore. Egads!April 10, 2015 – 6:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You are??? For real??? Pleats made them cool. You wore Z. Cavaricci’s??? You were SUPER COOL. My coolest was Guess.April 10, 2015 – 11:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I definitely miss that – feeling invincible and that life was still beginning. It was almost as fun as life actually.. happening. The prospect of it.
    Maybe it’s still beginning.
    When I was 14 I had a crush on a girl! That had never happened before that and has only vaguely happened since. Her best friend was a boy and I wanted him even more. But he wanted my best friend.
    So there was that.April 10, 2015 – 11:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Gawd I miss feeling that life was just now too. Just starting and so much. The prospect. Your crush on a girl. That happened. I love that. So there was life. Then. All of it.April 11, 2015 – 12:24 amReplyCancel

  • Dana Schwartz - Kristi, this is lovely and it really brought me back 🙂 I remember being so uncomfortable in my skin, feeling awkward and bony-limbed and flat chested (sorry bra) and anxious about boys. I hung out with a not awesome crowd when I was 14 and I remember sitting on porches with the oddball guy while our friends made out in the woods. Calling my dad to drive us home and hoping he didn’t notice my friends were drunk. Anyway, clearing the nostalgia is in high gear. Thanks for this blast into the past 🙂 I too am happy not to be 14.April 10, 2015 – 11:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - Risky Business!!! YES!!! I was all about Rocky, and Prince too… and I too, lived in broken cracks of the suburban life. I’m so glad I never have to go back to that year. It was one of the hardest years of my life. (That’s why I just couldn’t do this link up… 🙁 ) Your pics are BRILLIANT. Oh, and the music… the power of music- wow. I forgot about that.April 11, 2015 – 1:49 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman - This is so evocative Kristi – the scrunchies and lying on the floor absorbed in the music, how everything was so meaningful, so full of potential really. Oh, and that feeling of being invincible – yes! And just, FEELING everything. Then knowing you don’t want to go back to being 14 because “an unplanned life tends to unfold as it should.” Love it.April 11, 2015 – 3:02 amReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Ha! I loved Billy Idol, too, though being a little older than you, my vivid memories of that fluorescence comes from working at Disneyland – there were a lot of guests in bright orange and green with “Wham! U.K.” sweatshirts, lol! 😀April 11, 2015 – 11:46 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Billy Idol. I miss the neon a little bit. Or at least a time in history when that was cool!April 11, 2015 – 10:05 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicki - Risky Business RayBans… this is my new favorite phrase. It encompasses EVERYTHING. I used to lie on the floor and listen to Forever Young by Alphaville… I feel nostalgic for that every day. But oh to the cracks in that RayBan perfection that prepared us for the cracks in life… the truest thing ever. L’chaim. Thank you for your beautiful words and self.April 11, 2015 – 9:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG Nicki, that song Forever Young. I love love LOVE it to this day. I hear the first two notes and I am again a teen (although an older one than you were at the time). Thank you. Thank you.April 11, 2015 – 10:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Mardra Sikora - Yup. And I love the cartoons! And yup.April 12, 2015 – 3:56 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Oh and congrats for being featured in another book!April 13, 2015 – 6:59 amReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - Ah, yes! 14..or as I like to refer to it, the beginning of the end. It had it’s great moments but navigating that time in life can most definitely suck. It’s the hardest and as my youngest daughter gets closer to it the more I remember it. I don’t know if I will be able to impart my wisdom on to her and let her know it might be awful at times but those times will pass and things will get better…not always, but mostly. She’s a different kid than I was though. I’m totally taking credit for that ;).

    I miss the 80s too…all that neon. I think you and I would have been fast and furious friends, Kristi.April 14, 2015 – 6:30 amReplyCancel

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