It was a phase, mom.

Kaitlin Ryan, Social Media Editor

This week in Kaitlin’s Column, I reflect on the many phases I’ve gone through and what I learned. (Kaitlin Ryan)

As someone who spends a shameful amount of time scrolling through Tik Tok, I have recently recognized the shared appreciation of old trends. Tik Tok videos act as mini period pieces, encouraging viewers to reminisce on the fashion, music, apps and popular culture of a niche period of time. 

For a while, I saw videos emphasizing the 2014 aesthetic. As someone who was 14 years old for most of that year, I resonate with the common associations: flower crowns, soft-grunge fashion, John Green book-to-film adaptations, the late app Vine and indie pop music galore. 

Looking back on how I interpreted popular trends — the good, the bad and the UGG — I realized that much of my life can be categorized by phases I went through. I laugh at the rich, specific nature of each year of my adolescence in terms of fashion, popular culture and the way I molded my personality around these arbitrary fads. 

This week, I will be looking back at some of my favorite phases. Read ahead with this in mind: It is important to laugh at yourself. 


The “Early High School Artsy” Phase

Kaitlin Ryan

Deeply influenced by Tumblr, I categorize this phase of my life as one that revolved around taking myself too seriously. At 15 years old, I was determined to make my melodramatic life look interesting. I took pictures to romanticize everything from Starbucks cups to dandelions in my parents’ yard. 

The 1975, Arctic Monkeys and Lana Del Rey would all be featured on this phase’s soundtrack. 

Overall, the artsy phase of my life is something I still resonate with, no matter how embarrassing that may be to admit. At the time, though, I did not realize that much of the content I saw online was fabricated, especially the lives of the internet personalities I admired. 


The “It’s Not a Phase, Mom” Phase

Kaitlin Ryan

At 17 years old, I was oozing with teenage angst. I was obsessed with bleaching my hair, thrift shopping and watching obscure indie films for the aesthetic. It is quite humorous how naive I was, but I know now that I just desperately wanted to be a unique individual. 

In an effort to set my own trends, I fell into the same pattern of most teenagers, rejecting society and being rude to my parents. 

The biggest takeaway from this phase is that you should never try to be someone you are not. 


The “One with Nature” Phase

Kaitlin Ryan

While it seems like an oxymoron to reminisce on the early era of quarantine, as it would be filled with so much tragedy, I found happiness in March 2020. 

I fell in love with the outdoors because of my family’s daily walks. In lockdown, I stopped wearing makeup and started dressing how I wanted, dreaming of the days I could wear my new outfits in public again. 

In late spring and early summer of last year, I found beauty in everything because I didn’t want to take anything for granted. I started making art and finding new music. I realized what it was like to just live without all the distractions from our pre-COVID-19 world. 

Each phase of my life may be marked by products of societal or cultural influence, but I think every period is important for deeper reasons. When we become invested in a certain hobby, genre of music or hair style, it reflects our desire to grow and discover more of what life has to offer.

Going through different phases can be fun; trying new things and learning about yourself makes life interesting.