At the cusp of teenhood, young girls have no clue about the mysterious transition our bodies go through, either after a long wait or seeming overnight – called puberty.
Puberty can be a challenging, confusing, and – let’s be honest – scary time for a person to go through. Besides the many physical and psychological changes, not knowing what to expect with these shifts in your body can also make you feel out of control.
With multiple sources of advice, naani’s slightly empowering stories and our parents’ protectiveness, the puberty conversation goes off on various tangents instead of giving one a clear picture.
With many avenues of personal struggles with puberty and yet being unable to completely understand its nuances, I hope my personal story helps you in case you feel alone.
Here are things I got wrong about puberty:
At 13 years old, I was one of the first girls in my friend circle who noticed that things about my body seemed to be moving along a bit quicker than usual. Within the span of a year, I grew 5 inches in height, developed breasts and couldn’t keep up with a range of mood swings, all thanks to puberty. While something or the other always felt odd, I continued to play it off as a mental fixation. I began overthinking everything from “I’m just being self-centred” to “Maybe some time away from the mirror would do good” and “I don’t see this happening to others, so why me?”
Through the midst of driving myself down with worry, my mother’s intuition came to the rescue. She approached me after an argument about some silly school project and said those 4 magical words that helped: “Tell me what’s wrong.”
After a long, tearful and slightly embarrassing conversation, she helped me understand that what I was going through is normal and that everyone’s experience with puberty is different. From that moment, things became easier to learn and understand better.
We all know the key to solving life’s multiple issues is by asking questions, no matter how significant or insignificant they can seem. However, my understanding of it via puberty came much later on. After being told about puberty, what it means and how my body would change, I felt more lost about it. I was extremely shy to bring anything to attention, especially how my school uniform was taking more shape. It was only after gaining some courage and alone time with my parents did I feel comfortable enough to talk about it.
While my mother covered as much as she could with a gentle touch, my father took a more biological approach with puberty, helping me understand how it affects both boys and girls and in very different ways.
As fortunate as I was to have a great support system, I wished I could have been a bit more confident in knowing I had the capabilities to manage this with some help along the way.
Being in an all-girls school comes with many pros and cons. While you have a great group of girls that will be there for you, you can’t expect them to be mind readers, especially during puberty. I remember getting a few odd questions about my sudden changes with part curiosity and part inquisition. I know now that they did the best that they could, but going through your own phases of puberty and not relating to others can be overwhelming too.
Years later, once our gang of girls were all caught up with puberty, we had open and honest discussions of our struggles, especially in school. “Isn’t it funny how even being surrounded by close ones, all of us still felt alone?”, my friend muttered. I guess, feeling misunderstood is just another puberty phase we all must endure.
With dark and stormy clouds of puberty looming over my head, I forgot to live and just go along with the ride. Even with continuously fluctuating hormones, I lost sight of the fact that I was still another child, with growing pains that would last until my period would begin. Staying and being curious was great but with the mid-2000s emo-rock songs, it was easy to get lost in the noise of the world.
After a few years of multiple gynaecologist visits, listening to stories by other women and hearing the struggles many go through and many more will in the future – I’ve realised maybe being misunderstood was a superpower I could have used to my advantage to help my friends with their puberty struggles whenever they needed it.
Ups and downs in life are plenty, adding a dollop of puberty along the way seems like such a small part of my worries today! That doesn’t have to mean that you’re alone and that you have to go through it all alone.
Puberty can be physically, metally and emotionally, very challenging. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to go through with it. If you ever feel stuck or in a fix, remember you have people that can help you navigate this period in your life.
Note: This is a personal story. We recommend that you read up on any gynaecology-related queries in the articles written by our expert authors. To find them, click here.