Or maybe that's just what I tell my pre-teen, I don't remember.
In any case, it's true. I spent much of my teen years obsessing over whether my ears stuck out (they did,) whether I'd ever get a voluptuous figure (I didn't,) and whether my pimples were visible from space (they were, but so were everyone else's.)
With all the wisdom I've gathered as a 34-year-old, I now see that was a lot of wasted time that could've been put to better use, say, learning how to knit sweaters for homeless cats. Or digging holes and filling them in for fun.
However, I realized yesterday that maybe I haven't actually learned my lesson. I still care way too much about appearances, but the name of the game has changed.
Yesterday morning (I use the term "morning" loosely, mind you) my doorbell unexpectedly rang. I happened to be showered and dressed in real clothes, but my house was a complete mess.
Last night's dinner dishes were littered all over the kitchen counter.
The unloaded contents of my kids' backpacks lie in random piles around the room; I hadn't gotten around to sorting through them yet.
The floors needed a good sweeping and vacuuming, which admittedly you couldn't really see because of all the toys everywhere.
I put on a confident face and opened the door — or at least, I tried to. It hit one of the three laundry hampers filled with clothes in various states of clean and dirty waiting to be washed or folded, which I swept out of the way with a face that was quickly turning red.
It was my neighbor, stopping by with some mail that had accidentally been delivered to her house.
I invited her in and tried to smile, nod, and make small talk although I was totally preoccupied with the disaster area into which I was welcoming her.
The bi-fold doors that normally hide the disorganized chaos that is our laundry closet were flung wide open, treating her to a display of a gigantic pile of mismatched socks and a shelf about to collapse under the weight of cleaning supplies, light bulbs, batteries, and whatever else we'd stuck up there and forgotten about ages ago.
I tried to look her in the eye but found my gaze darting all around the room. Did she notice the crumbs on the floor? What about the fact that there was a pair of child-sized underwear in the corner of questionable cleanliness?
Stepping over a pile of playing cards my toddler had dumped everywhere, it was hard to resist the urge to apologize for my messy house.
I knew that saying "I'm sorry it's such a mess around here" would just be an invitation to look for it. I knew it would only be a big deal if I made it into one. I knew I was more aware of it than she was, and that even if she did notice, it probably just made her feel better that her own kitchen looked similar (If not right at this moment, then it probably did yesterday.)
Logically I knew all of these things, yet I still felt super uncomfortable. And the moment she left I flew into rage cleaning mode.
I guess I'm not so different than my preteen self, after all.
I don't care anymore if my ears stick out, or that I could totally share training bras with my 9-year-old, or if a bright red zit (thanks, pregnancy hormones!) cropped up last night on the end of my nose.
But I do care what my house looks like. Let me rephrase that: I care about what other people think about what my house looks like.
This is how teenage insecurity manifests itself in your 30s, I guess. This is the way we compare ourselves now.
Maybe I should call my mom so she can remind me that everyone else is too preoccupied with their own messy houses to notice mine. Moms are smart like that.