I made a new friend last week. He's quite reliable, always turning up unexpectedly at the times where I'm struggling. And he's loyal too, hanging around even though I call him up at all hours. Moreover, he never leaves my side until whatever I'm trying to do is long finished.

His name is Stress.

Stress and I, me and Stress – we're getting pretty close. He stayed the night over the weekend, and I ran into him again on the train this morning. I don't really think I need any more friends though. I mean, Insecurity has been around for years, and Anxiety moved in a couple of months ago.

But I suppose I could use a few mates around in times like these though. That guy, Pressure, has been haggling me for weeks and I nearly lost it with him the other day.

I packed my bag the other day, did I mention? I'm going on a trip. I'm not sure where, but the sign said it was called AdolescenceTM: The Experience of a Lifetime, and it's duration was pretty long. I tried to make sense of what the tour guide was saying, but I couldn't quite make it out. Especially not with those twenty-eight other people leaning over his shoulder trying to say things to me. I couldn't quite get what they were saying, but I distinctly remember someone saying something about it being the 'best experience of his life'. I think he's lying. The photos I've seen only show some pretty rough terrain and not too pretty scenery.

I got a haircut yesterday. For the trip, see. I decided I needed to start with a bang, but I'm not exactly sure if it's the look I'm going for though, it's a little more styled and stylized than it normally is. But Insecurity told me the other night that I could use a new look. I trusted her, of course. We've been getting close lately, so why wouldn't I? But then I ran into Anxiety, right after I got it done. And she said I didn't exactly look beautiful, not compared to Insecurity – Insecurity who's tall, blonde, stick thin and has these huge lips and big baby blue eyes, and who wears clothes like I saw once in a low-budget comedy about a ex-playboy bunny.

"Hey Anxiety?" I said. "Let's try redefining beautiful. "

I found out that Stress is going to keep me company on my journey though, which is good. He's not coming from the start, he's got some things to do. But in a couple of days he said he'd catch up.

I got a badge before I left today. It's huge – like a beacon. I'm a TeenagerTM now – teenager with a capital 'T', and lower-case everything else. And I took that first step, my brand new badge shining like a neon sign on my chest and you know what? I can't say that I felt good or bad, only strange and unprepared.

Funnily enough, when I got the badge I also got a huge bundle of paperwork that I didn't read till just now. Apparently being a TeenagerTM comes with a disclaimer. In large bold font, so that I couldn't miss is [even though I did].


I wish I'd know that earlier.