Haunted at 17: Seen and Unseen

Nova Ren Suma’s 17 & GONE released this week! In celebration of her latest novel, published YA writers contributed posts to Nova’s blog about their 17-year-old selves. Since Nova’s the generous type, she also invited her readers to share what haunted us at 17.

On the surface, 17 looked awesome. A cute running back called me his girlfriend, I had my own car, lived in a big house in an economically uplifted suburb, made good grades, and was well on my way to being voted one of the Most Popular Seniors in my all-girls private high school.

But underneath? Utter fear.

I feared my parents’ impending divorce. At the same time, I was afraid they wouldn’t break up and make everybody miserable for the rest of their lives.

Going off to college scared me to death yet I’d never had a stronger urge to leave everything behind.

The intensity of being in love terrified me, but that reckless, free-wheeling, big-drop-on-the-rollercoaster feeling was an addiction I couldn’t shake.

Despite how pulled-together I appeared, I was a jumbled mess inside. Every day, I waited for someone to discover I was a fraud.

Despite the pounds that crept on as I stress-ate, the outrageous lies I told to excuse my boyfriend’s abusive behavior, and the bruises I hid, everyone believed I was okay.

Most of the time, I tricked myself into thinking I was.

With so many blessings, I knew I was lucky. I knew my family and friends loved me. Still, it felt like I wasn’t allowed to have problems. The only thing worse than appearing ungrateful is a girl from a well-off family complaining about how hard her life is.

17-year-old me was obsessed with hiding emotions I was positive no one else had. In my mind, fueled by expectations both real and imaginary, I thought I wasn’t brave, special, or worthy of attention. I believed that if good things happened it was only a result of someone else’s efforts and I just reaped the benefits.

I routinely distrusted my instincts: the tickling gut, the voice in the back of my head, the “spidey-sense” that alarmed when something wasn’t right. I willingly deflected those feelings with a shield of insecurities and doubts, too afraid of what would happen if I tackled them head-on.

If I could say anything to that girl it’s this: It’s okay that you weren’t ready to face your fears then. You did what was necessary to protect yourself. But you will conquer them one day. Just wait and see.

15 thoughts on “Haunted at 17: Seen and Unseen”

  1. Adrianne,

    Wow. Wow. This is an incredible post—moving, and beautifully written. (I love your voice!)

    Thank you so much for sharing your Haunted at 17 story and helping me celebrate my book release… I’m thrilled you took part in this. In thanks I have to 17 & GONE swag to send out if you’d like some, just email me (at nova[at]novaren[dot]com) and let me know your mailing address if you’d like some.



  2. oh gosh, I definitely know the feeling! my parents divorced when I was around 17 as well and that’s when I went off to college. it’s scary but I’m glad you made it through it with the support of your friends and family.


  3. 17 is a tough age. I went to college at 17 and I was a mess. Maybe it was being in college at such a young age, but I didn’t handle it as well as I would’ve hoped and I got involved in a really awful relationship.


Tell Me What's On Your Mind

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s