Huffpost Teen
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Emma Orlow Headshot

Smells Like Teen Angst

Posted: Updated:

"Angst," though an incredibly broad and subjective term, is, in some respects, a mantra that we as teenagers all unknowingly subscribe to. If you search on UrbanDictionary.com -- which, by the way, is by NO MEANS a legitimate dictionary, but it does do a good job of defining jargon -- the first thing that comes up for teen angst is the following: "When teenagers, for any number of reasons combined with their hormones and stress from school, get depressed." Yes, we as teenagers do have a way of being selfish and sometimes whiney, but there is without a doubt some validity to our gripes. On a general scope, high school is a weird gap of time when everything in our lives feels so extreme. One day I'll feel super angst-y, like I just want wear headphones cemented to my brain blaring music that screams "I Hate All Of You," or I get into an argument with a teacher over the relevance of an assignment to life post-high school, go on deleting-sprees of unfriending people on Facebook, or feel like my social life is over because a really cute ginger on the subway won't talk to me. But then, just as quickly, I can get hyped up about the little things like gnome stickers I found at Discount Mart, a cute outfit I put together, decorating homemade cookies, watching people on the subway, finding the fresh flowers in the snow, reading a great book like Mindy Kaling's hilarious memoir called Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), seeing that someone I admire retweeted me, or eating ice cream sundaes at an old-fashioned diner. People often seem to take the notion of angst that to mean that everything must automatically be dark and emo, which for me isn't true at all.

While a lot of my peers early on in their school careers got involved in sports, I made a home for myself in my school's art room. At the start of this school year I translated my relished solitude to begin carving block prints for a line of teen angst-themed T-shirts and accessories to sell amongst my friends. This, in turn, caused a lot of people to ask me what I have to be angsty about. I even found one girl making a drawing that said something like: "Teen Angst Is Stupid," in the school's art room, which I thought was kind of comical because, for one, I didn't know her, but also just because I thought her stance was kind of angsty in it of itself.


The Teen Angst T-shirts and bags that I've been making have, as mentioned above, have become a larger point of celebrating a mutual love-hate relationship with high school that a lot of us seem to share. I make them in mostly neon colors to counter the whole idea that angst must be associated with a certain group or characterizing appearance, because I strongly believe that teen angst is a feeling that percolates in every clique, every ethnic group, and every socio-economic status, and that I can still be totally deadpan in a bubblegum-pink Peter Pan-collared frock, wearing a candy choker necklace, despite what the media seems to propagate about being a teenager. If you want to take part in my project, you can check out the items here.

But more importantly, I am very much interested in how the idea of teen angst manifests in each of us. I would love to hear your thoughts on what the "teen angst" means to you!