Have you ever felt invisible in the middle of your own life?
Have you ever walked into a crowded room and felt like no one noticed you?
Have you ever felt completely on the fringes of normality?
Have you ever felt the conflicting emotions of hating the shallowness and superficial-ness of the “in crowd”, and yet at the same time wanting so badly to be a part of it?
Have you ever felt sad and depressed for no obvious reason?
Have you ever felt completely unappreciated, as if there’s not a soul on the planet who cares or acknowledges what you have to offer?
Have you ever longed for someone to think you’re pretty or cute or smart or funny?
Have you ever wished you had just one person to talk to, only to realize at every turn that there's no one?
Have you ever just wanted to feel like you belonged somewhere, anywhere?
I see kids EVERY SINGLE day who feel like this. Sometimes there are real reasons for these feelings. Sometimes the feelings are completely irrational. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter whether the feelings are rational or not. They still FEEL them. And the result is the same.
To some degree, we never fully outgrow those feelings. At least it seems that way to me! Sure, as adults, we’re able to see the big picture, and can (most of the time) discern when our feelings are irrational, but I’ll be the first to admit that those feelings I described above still creep up on me from time to time.
This is why I LOVE Young Adult fiction. It’s why I want to WRITE Young Adult fiction. Because kids need reading material that can meet them where they are… fiction that mirrors their own lives, feelings, and experiences, and yet offers hope and encouragement that things really can work out okay and perseverance really can pay off. They need to see that other teens (and former teens!) have felt that same sense of loneliness, isolation, sadness, longing, and invisibility that they experience, and that those people have been able to come out of those situations stronger and more equipped to handle life and all that comes with it.
The fact that most adults still sometimes experience those same feelings just widens the appeal of quality, relevant Young Adult fiction. Good YA fiction reaches across the generations, to speak to the teenager in all of us, and remind us all that we really do have reason to be encouraged and hopeful.