This summer, I lived

Me+and+my+nine+new+friends+who+gave+me+a+summer+full+of+adventures.

Mackenna Pieper

Me and my nine new friends who gave me a summer full of adventures.

This summer, I learned what it was like to be a teenager. 

During the school year, I am too overwhelmed about grades and getting to dance to be a true “teenager.” I never go out on weekdays, and I rarely make it anywhere on the weekends. Even the summers I’ve had since becoming a teenager have been void of any real adventures with my friends. Sure, I’ve traveled to New York and Chicago, but in NYC, I barely made any friends and in Chicago, I never left my room besides attending ballet class. 

This summer, I ventured out to Seattle and was placed in a group with nine other girls and one counselor. Within the first three days of meeting my new friends, we had already made countless memories and inside jokes. We bonded over a fork for which we filmed a short film. We saw a meatball in the grass and collectively decided that was the most hilarious thing we’d ever seen. 

As the quarantine week of walking, dancing, laughing, and sleeping came to an end, I wasn’t nervous for the coming five weeks because the people I’d be with no longer felt like strangers. Despite the teachers that I didn’t know and wanted to prove myself to, I felt ready to face them alongside my new friends. 

In the past, I have despised the non-ballet classes at summer intensives, but this year—whether it be because of my bond with my friends or something just changed within me—I embraced the hip hop, modern, jazz, and musical theatre classes as best I could. I actually had fun and improved because of it. 

In the past, I would have stayed in my room and accomplished nothing in particular. This year, however, I left my room. 

The people I’d be with [for the next five weeks] no longer felt like strangers.”

I went to talk and watch cheesy movies with my friends in the dorm lounge. I went on outings after class no matter how tired I was. I learned the differences we all had, and we were constantly comparing our hometown communities. We went to parks and celebrated two people’s birthdays with food and beautiful sights. I could give tours on the desserts of Seattle based on the time I spent exploring all of the city’s options. 

It all led up to the last night where I truly felt like a teenager. Though I was periodically saying goodbye to my friends and the urge to cry got increasingly stronger, our entire summer came flashing before me. As I slowly motivated myself to finish my packing, I made memories that I’ll never forget. 

My friend cut my hair the shortest it has ever been, only a few hours after cutting her own. We played Just Dance, and I didn’t think of what other people thought. We went out at 12:30 am for shakes and fries. We stayed out until 2:00 in the morning driving around and listening to our favorite songs blaring throughout the car. 

Then I had to say goodbye to them all and hold in my tears until I couldn’t anymore. I had a teenage movie summer—even if there was no greater plot. I lived this summer and I broke out of my shell with some of my new best friends.