was more stressful than I thought
1st place $50
By Donnis Broussard, Gardena HS
Dating is not as easy as it’s made out to be on TV and in books. The pressure of picking the right girl and keeping things interesting can be overwhelming at times. My perspective on relationships has greatly changed as my experiences have grown.
I can still remember my first girlfriend. My only thought was, “Oh my god, she’s hot.” As I approached the gates of my school that morning, my mind suddenly started to race. I thought about things like, what if my friends don’t think she’s cute, what if they don’t like her and is she really just my girlfriend? Things like this crossed my mind rapidly because of stories my older brother constantly put in my head about experiences he had with girls cheating on him and his friends calling one of his girlfriends ugly.
This all added pressure to our young relationship. It was the pressure of pleasing ourselves and our entourage. Something that started out with a smile and an “I like you” letter was twisted into this awkward challenge to satisfy our entire surroundings.
About a couple weeks into our relationship, I started to realize it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. The weirdest things popped up on random days, like tongue kissing, questions about me touching her in certain places … and the rest should go unsaid. The gossip, awkward feelings, meeting her needs when she was in a bad mood, dealing with her messy friends and carrying her English book to class could push a teen over the edge. I’m truly scratching the surface on this topic compared to living it day-to-day. Yet I put up with everything because her smile lifted something in me and she was always willing to double what I did for her.
Overcoming obstacles in this young and confused relationship became an everyday thing. But I hadn’t faced the hardest one of all and that was meeting her dad.
My mere 5-foot-4-inch frame looked so tiny compared to his 6-foot-2-inch massive body. When I saw her dad standing in the hallway of the school, my face dropped and my heart skipped every possible beat. I thought things were cool as long as he stayed where he was and I stayed as far away as possible.
But that’s when she hit me with the worst sentence I’ve ever heard: “Come meet my dad.” I just stared at her with a look that said, “You can’t be serious.” I thought about how he would judge me and what he may have heard about me. We slowly approached her father and I reached out my hand. We exchanged a few words and broke the ice but it wasn’t long before he judged me because I was a so-called jock. He accused me of being every type of jerk and cocky guy you can imagine. I was so relieved when her mother came. But I figured if I could prove him wrong, I would have overcome the deepest valley of our relationship.
I had to deal with a lot of negative vibes from her family because of the things her father may have said to them. But by the time I had eaten dinner with them the third time, their overall image of me had changed. After spending time talking with the family, I had proven myself to be courteous and respectful.
I was very open with them about my theory of how a relationship should work and what is expected out of a relationship. By doing so I won over their hearts and gained the approval of her father, even though we broke up two days later over me smashing a bug on her math book. Gotta love high school relationships.
2nd place $30
*Editor’s note: The names of the people in this essay have been changed.
By Guy Torres, Schurr HS (MONTEBELLO)
Some of my biggest mistakes in life have been made while I was involved in a relationship. Although this may seem somewhat depressing, there is some good that comes out of bad relationships. The hardest part about any relationship is trust and knowing when to trust yourself.
I remember the first day that I worked up enough courage to talk to *Gina. She was a sophomore and I was a freshman. We were both single at the time and I had seen her around school and was dying to talk to her. One day I saw her hanging out by herself, and I took the opportunity to get to know her. Everything was going well. We found out that we had the same taste in music and movies and shared common interests. After our talk I asked her if I could walk her home and I asked for her number. She said, “Yeah, sure” and I was excited to see what would happen with our newfound friendship. I walked her home for about a week and liked her so much that I asked her to be my girl. She said yes.
The next couple months went by very smoothly. We were still in the “honeymoon stage” of our relationship. But after being in a relationship with her for five months I noticed that Gina was very untrusting. I tried my best to understand her. The problems escalated from there because we were spending more time together and she was very demanding of me and wanted my attention for her and only her. I remember her yelling at me because I had hugged one of my close friends. This is when arguing became a normal thing in our relationship and before I realized it, I was getting used to arguing with her on a regular basis.
My trust in her and my trust in our relationship was starting to fade. The relationship was taking me away from my friends and that was a bad sign. I decided to put time and effort into Gina rather than into myself. I tried my best to help her with her problems instead of caring about myself. This behavior was not healthy for either of us. Why we didn’t stop the relationship there is beyond me.
My best friend *Jenny and I were starting to get very close and I decided that I would break up with Gina and start dating Jenny. I tried my best to break up with Gina but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to do it because she said that she needed me. That is where I made the biggest mistake of choosing Gina, who I had known for only a year, over my best friend who has been there for me since I was in elementary school. Gina made me pick her or Jenny and I chose to be with Gina.
My friendship with Jenny was never the same after Gina became a part of my life. Gina and I are no longer together and after a difficult breakup we no longer talk to each other. I realized that I can’t let anyone come between me and my friends. I had a special friend who was trusting and kind to me and I took her for granted and learned this lesson the hard way.
3rd Place $20
Author’s name withheld
Loving the person that loves you is the sweetest thing you can have besides candy. Relationships are great when you spend time with your loved one and share the love you have for each other. Doing activities every now and then is really fun and makes you happy, but when it comes to relationship problems, everything goes downhill. I believe that there are several challenges in relationships.
School can be one of the smallest problems. Finding time to do my homework is difficult because I know I need the grades, but I also want to hang out with my boyfriend, since he gets mad if we don’t hang out. My parents are another issue. My mom questions everything. She tries to get into my problems with my boyfriend. She spies on us, she tells me that it’s time for him to leave and she’s mad at me for no reason. Now my dad, he doesn’t let me go anywhere without knowing every detail. He will ask where I’m going, who’s going, what time I’m leaving, what time am I coming back, who’s taking us, blah, blah, blah … It’s so annoying! Now I’m even scared to ask my dad anything because when he does let me go out, he gets mad and tells my mom that I’m going to get it when I come home. Seriously, I don’t hear the last of him.
Another hard thing about relationships is the need of a job. My boyfriend needs a job and it’s just sad knowing that if he does get one, we won’t hang out as much as we do now. Another thing that’s hard is having the awkward feeling of knowing that he has had other girlfriends before, and they have said and done things to each other that we say and do now. It’s hard feeling that he might still have feelings for them, and that one of these days he might leave me just like that for another girl.
But what I consider the hardest part about relationships, or at least my relationship with my boyfriend, is nonsense arguments. That’s one thing I can’t stand about being together. We are so alike that we say things to each other that will get us mad. We play jokes on each other and we both get mad. He says something to me and it gets me so mad that I end up telling him it’s over. I’ll say something to him, and it gets him mad that he gets crazy about things. It’s like a never-ending, happily-never-after story. It just gets so tiring trying to make him listen to what I say. I get mad, he asks why I got mad, I tell him why and he says that one statement that gets me angry: “Why are you mad? I don’t see why you have to get mad for that.” Oh my god does that get me furious. He is basically telling me that it gets him mad when I’m myself, showing my emotions to things, yet he still tells me to be myself when I am myself 24/7. I seriously don’t see why he has to say something like that.
These arguments have gotten to the point where we hurt each other not just emotionally, but physically. He has grabbed me by my wrists to the point where they hurt. He has bruised up my arms. I have pushed him to the floor. I have socked him. I even bit him on his arm almost ripping his skin. I don’t like arguing almost every day for some lame reason, but it happens. Arguing is the hardest part of relationships and having to try to overcome those arguments is really hard for me.
By Marina Williams, Wilson MS (Glendale)
My friend always puts her boyfriends before her friends. This was really hard for me to accept because we’ve been friends for four years. This is an especially awkward situation because it keeps happening. She ditches me for a guy and she always comes back to me crying when she breaks up with him.
Once she had a boyfriend and they were together for two or three months. He broke up with her through a note. She was really hurt. She came to me all sad, but she had ditched me for him. At the time I thought, “Why did you ditch me for him and now when he dumps you, you want to be friends again?” Boyfriends aren’t going to last forever, but friends will. I was annoyed, but at the same time I wanted to help her because she was hurting so much.
The hardest part about relationships is having mixed emotions—feeling one way, and also the opposite at the same time. I listened to my friend. How could I say, “No, you’re not my friend anymore?” I couldn’t be mean to her even if she was mean to me, choosing her boyfriend over me. I’m still afraid it will happen again and again. She’ll find somebody she is more interested in, she’ll blow me off, and then later she’ll want to hang out with me because she doesn’t have a boyfriend anymore. It’s really hard for me to be honest with her, especially when she is down in the dumps about breaking up with a boyfriend. By the time our friendship is back to normal, she’s already moved on to another boyfriend.
I know I won’t ever do that to my friends. I will balance my time. I would spend 49 percent of my free time with my boyfriend and 51 percent of my free time with my friends. It’s important to me to have friends that you can rely on consistently, when testing out new territory with boyfriends who may come and go. I hope that we will be able to talk honestly some day when we’re not between breaking up and making new boyfriends. Meanwhile, I have plenty of friends who are consistent and don’t give me mixed emotions.
In this issue, Charlotte writes about becoming friends with someone she didn’t like at first. However, they became best friends and Charlotte said she learned a lot from her friend Darby and feels like she’s a better person because of her. We want you to tell us a story about one of your friends or your group of friends. What drew you together? What’s made the friendship last? What’s made it special? Or if you’re no longer friends, why did it fall apart? Friendship can teach us a lot about ourselves and the world around us. What has this friendship meant to you?
Write an essay to L.A. Youth and tell us about it.
Essays should be a page or more. Include your name, school, age and telephone number with your essay. The staff of L.A. Youth will read the entries and pick three winners. Your name will be withheld if you request it. The first-place winner will receive $50. The second-place winner will get $30 and the third-place winner will receive $20. Winning essays will be printed in our March-April issue and put on our Web site at layouth.com.
MAIL YOUR ESSAYS TO:
5967 W. 3rd St. Ste. 301
Los Angeles CA 90036
DEADLINE IS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2008