Very recently my amazing friend Hannah had her 23 birthday party which was themed “Hot Mitzvah: The 10 year anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah.” Being that I am also 23 I was shocked, has it really been 10 whole years since we’ve turned 13?
In honor of commemorating our 10-year anniversaries of being thirteen, here are few cringe-worthy stories that all lead up to where I am today:
My Teen Modeling/Acting Career
When I was 13 I decided I wanted to be an actress/model/superstar-of-the-world, (aka Hilary Duff). I once read somewhere that Eva Mendez got scouted while sitting on her stoop, so I of course knew this would be my shot. I thought it would be a great idea to catwalk and strike poses every time I walked my dog outside on the off chance a casting director would drive by and discover me. Safe to say that didn’t work.
My next step was begging my mom to get me acting classes.
After binge watching marathons of America’s Next Top Model and a month full of very expensive acting classes, the next thing I know I was signed with a local acting/modeling agency. I even have these cringe worthy head shots to show for it.
While I do believe my love of acting has graduated me into the 1% of the world who isn’t afraid of public speaking, my acting career was doomed from the start. The highlight of this time in my life was booking a mall fashion show, and my lowest time was sobbing during my first and only acting audition because I studied the lines for the wrong part and felt like I let myself and Hilary Duff down. I always wonder if that horrible, horrible audition tape is out there but the world will never know!
The Time I Catfished My Best Friend and Myself
The next one is a bit of a doozy. When I was 13, I loved young adult fiction, specifically devouring all of the Princess Diaries books - Meg Cabot was my GIRL. And being the girl that I was with the rich fantasy life that I had, I made up this best friend named “Lily” and proceeded to catfish my real life best friend.
To paint this picture properly, my friend and I never had drama, she is calm, cool, extremely smart and is still one of my best friends to this day. But I was bored, and hoping for a tween-dream, Meg Cabot life!
Now this was before “catfishing” was even a thing. But I made up a fake email address and would email my best friend messages from “Lily” this fake friend who was coincidentally exactly like Mia Thermapolis and brag about all the fun we had during the summer or whatever, living out my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants dream fantasy.
The email correspondence probably lasted like 3 emails because I got bored. But when I think about how stupid this was, I cringe! Especially because this was just a dramatic attempt to seem cool. And the worst part is that my best friend at the time probably thought I was already pretty cool, I mean, I did turn my old jeans into a handbag and had Snake on my Nokia brick phone.
Then of course, The Two Times I tried Witchcraft.
The same best friend and I practically spent every waking moment together during our three years in middle school.
One day at her house after school we were flipping through the channels (this was pre-Netflix days, aka a world I try not to remember) and we landed on the Tyra Show (RIP). In true Tyra fashion, she had a witch on the show who taught the audience a love spell. Our tiny 13-year-old faces were glued to the TV.
Apparently you were supposed to take a paper bag and write all the qualities of your future boo and then melt a candle on it while thinking really hard about it. My list of qualities probably included: “As hot as Nick Jonas,” “can play guitar,” “super funny,” lol.
Safe to say we did the spell and anxiously waited for…. Absolutely nothing. I would still have to wait another 3 years before my first kiss.
But that didn’t stop me.
With another group of friends during a sleepover we busted out the Ouija board. I asked the mystical Ouija master in the sky (aka Lucifer), what my future boyfriend’s name is. We all concentrated really hard and lead the tiny triangular shaped piece across the board and we spelled out the name Shawn Landers.
I crept Myspace for a couple months for any Shawn Landers in Hawaii and asked everyone at school if anyone knew a Shawn Landers but came up with nothing.
What a huge disappointment Ouija! WTF!
13 was one of the rockiest years of my life, it marked the very beginning of my hormonal teenage years, and was the first year where I asked myself the tough questions like “am I hot?” It was also the first year where I starting comparing myself to others, tragically flat-ironing my hair, and feeling the need to start acting a certain way (and I quote, ”Mom I’m THIRTEEN”). But what’s most hilarious is that even though I’m 23-years-old now, I think I’m more like my 13-year-old self than ever.
I’m the first to admit that I was a fantastic 13-year-old. Reflecting on these stories of my past are enough to know that the best part about being thirteen is all these silly mistakes you make and how you roll with the ridiculously steep learning curve.
I think about all the time I would spend absorbing Teen Vogue and Elle Girl (RIP Elle Girl) magazines while half-paying attention to Degrassi on my twin size bed and dreaming of my own Seth Cohen boyfriend. Iwould obsessively collect every Ked advertisement with the adorable Mischa Barton and recreate the outfits she wore because she was the quintessence of teenage cool. And I would sigh to myself as another day went by without having my first kiss.
I truly pined for a life outside my tiny room and tiny all-girls school just like all the best 13 year olds on television and in real life would. I hoped I would wake up the next morning with big boobs, no braces, a boyfriend and a dreamy life full of Frappucinos, a posse of girlfriends, a bedazzled t-mobile sidekick and all the Paul Frank t-shirts I could ever want!
As I grew older, I tried to abandoned my thirteen year old image, which subsequently meant giving up pop-music, pink velour, lip gloss and teen dramas, because once I turned 16, I was waaaaay “too cool” for any of that stuff. It seemed like every year of my teen life and even into my college days revolved around different phases and obsessions that continued to push myself and my image as far away from my derpy, insecure 13 year old self as I could be. However, after 7 or 8 full years of this, I feel like now I’ve finally embraced 13-year-old me because it is my truest self.
I feel like one of those Russian nesting dolls containing different versions of myself inside. 13 year old me was dramatic, said how she felt when she felt it, was unembarrassed of liking things she liked. She dreamed of perfection and she was so hard on herself, and anxious before she even knew what anxiety was and just wanted to be happy.
While I still feel like this many days, I realize I’m now a moderately tolerable version of 13-year-old self, because I’ve built up armor to protect myself. This armor is made from years of experience, embarrassment, falling on my face and a series of little victories that got me where I am today.
I still wish people liked me, I’m still really hard on myself and I still get very anxious that my life isn’t perfect or that I’m not doing as well as my peers. But just like my thirteen-year-old self, I’m not afraid to like the things I like and feel what I feel and be who I am. I also look at the life I’ve carved out for myself 10 years later, and I think 13-year-old Caelan would be pretty proud.
I’m living in New York, I have my own studio apartment, my boyfriend is snarky, Jewish and has great music taste, I have a fabulous collection of phone cases and I treat myself to Almond-milk Ice Lattes way more than I’d like to admit - all I need are more Paul Frank shirts and I’m set.
What were you like as a 13-year-old?
Can you believe it's been a whole 10 years since we would match our braces rubber band colors to our moods?
Keep it Sassy,