Just thank you.
Thank you to everyone who wrote a Haunted at 17 story and shared it online. I was kind of floored at the response. I spent the week sharing five Haunted at 17 stories here—all five from people who reached out to me and offered their stories to share in full on this site. Here are the five I featured:
Cordelia Jensen: “When I was 17, in 1993–94 Manhattan, I was haunted by AIDS. My father’s sickness an omnipresent force in my life. I tried to push it away with Yearbook, with partying, with Phish shows, and with ’80s movies, but it was there, no matter what.”
Jennifer Gennari: “Seventeen was the sex year.”
Madeline Claire Franklin: “The past haunted me. A moment in time haunted me. Being silenced haunted me. Being silenced still haunts me.”
Courtney Leigh: “…When the priest said homosexuality was wrong, there was a hitch inside this girl inside me. Slowly I began to notice her more and more. Soon she couldn’t keep as quiet or as still.”
Melissa Montavani: “By the time I turned 17, death had been haunting me for years. I was convinced that I wouldn’t make it into my 20s or 30s because I’d found a lump at the back of my neck.”
There are so many more. I want to share them all with you, every last one. So I spent today capturing quotes, collecting links, and making a list…
What Haunted YOU at 17:
Will Ludwigsen: “What haunted me was the possibility of inheriting my father’s glib charisma, his zeal for seizing opportunity, his anxious aggression and temper in a full-tilt battle with the world. What haunted me was the possibility — the probability — that I had sociopathic blood in my veins.” Read more here.
Samantha Mabry: “What plagued me was a narrow-minded, irresponsible determination that prevented me from seeing the joy of the present—the journey, as they say—and always had me hurtling towards the future.” Read more here.
Vanessa Barger: “I was haunted by my inability to look at them and say, ‘If you don’t want to be seen with me all the time, then why bother being friends with me at all?'” Read more here.
Kelly Jensen: “What haunted me at 17 … is the very thing that now I can finally and truthfully own. I guess this is the first time most of the people in my life, if they read this, will learn.” Read more here.
Natalie Whipple: “By the time I was 17, I was desperate for recognition and wanted so badly to scream, ‘Look at me! SEE ME! I’m right here!'” Read more here.
Singularly Em: “At 17, what haunted me, consumed my every waking hour… was my obsessiveness, my self-destructive love for my abusive girlfriend, my depression, and most of all… distance.” Read more here.
Beth Fred: “I really didn’t know the one word answer to what haunted me, but I’ve found it. The fear of being unlovable. The fear that the adults in my life were right about my lack of worth.” Read more here.
Susan Adrian: “I had no belief that I could do it. I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence, and what I did was fragile, and false.” Read more here.
Mame: “My seventeenth birthday was spent on a New Orleans street corner.” Read more here.
Marisa Reichardt: “By 17, I was afraid of falling asleep at night and not waking up in the morning. I was afraid of dying without having left something worthy in my wake.” Read more here.
Rebecca Barrow: “So what haunted me through 17, that year of parties and older boys and getting far too drunk in the warm safety of my friends’ homes? What haunted me was the idea that it would all go back to before.” Read more here.
Sarah Wedgbrow: “I don’t remember being haunted at seventeen, but I am often haunted today by my seventeen year-old self. And I’ve been systematically trying to destroy her.” Read more here.
awholehandful: “What haunted me at seventeen was my quest to not be alone, and my obsession with finding the perfect person to settle down with. Of course, when I was eighteen and decided I needed to stop looking for a guy and just enjoy my life, I met my husband.” Read more here.
Elana K. Arnold: “I tried to become a ghost, starving the fat from my bones, floating my thoughts away on exhalations of smoke.” Read more here.
Katie L. Carroll: “As winter and basketball season approached, I struggled to keep my mini panic attacks from becoming noticeable. What if my one poor grade in pre-calculus junior year tarnished my transcripts? What if I didn’t get into my top college? Or any college? What if my relationship was too good to be true and he dumped me out of the blue?” Read more here.
Takayta: “So, what’s haunted me at 17? Well, for starters, I’m actually 17 right now… I think what haunts me now is just the fact that I’ll be going to college next year, and the fact I’m almost an adult… I just have to brace myself, be prepared, and be positive no matter what happens.” Read more here.
Adrianne Russell: “On the surface, 17 looked awesome. A cute running back called me his girlfriend, I had my own car, lived in a big house in an economically uplifted suburb, made good grades, and was well on my way to being voted one of the Most Popular Seniors in my all-girls private high school. But underneath? Utter fear.” Read more here.
Elena: “I was in love with the idea of being seventeen thanks to pop culture. Ladytron sings ‘they only want you when you’re seventeen’, Broken Social Scene has ‘Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl’, Stevie Nicks talks about the edge of seventeen, the list goes on. Braces crushed my dreams.” Read more here.
Jennifer R. Hubbard: “At 17, I thought it was all behind me. I didn’t see how much I still carried with me.” Read more here.
Lindsay Leggett: “When I was seventeen I thought of myself as somewhat of a ghost hunter. I wasn’t actively searching, but I never turned down an opportunity to go somewhere creepy.” Read more here.
Reynje: “I think I wanted someone to ask. Part of me wanted them to say: “Are you okay?” so I could say “no.” I wanted to grab their hands and push them against my chest so hard they would break through my sternum, snapping my ribs like dry sticks.” Read more here.
Katie: “At seventeen, I was haunted by desire. Not only desire to be loved and touched and wanted, but desire to make a name for myself, to be wild, to be known. I was desperately afraid of not being known.” Read more here.
pdxjess: “When I was 17, I was still haunted by the death of the first boy I ever slow danced with. He had reddish brown hair, freckles, the biggest smile, and an even bigger temper.” Read more here.
Jody Casella: “When I was seventeen I punched a girl in the face. Even now, many many years later, I can see her expression, her wide eyes, her mouth falling open, and her hands flying up in surprise. ‘You hit me,’ she said. ‘I can’t believe you did that.'” Read more here.
Alexandra: “At seventeen-years-old I was on average a year and a half younger than other college freshmen, which I never thought too much about. …For the majority of my life, I had been living the sort of life that those that are almost two years older than me live.” Read more here.
Jessica R: “I know what haunted me at 17 because it still haunts me today. I’m not haunted by ghosts. I am the ghost.” Read more here.
xdanigirl: “I was haunted by fear. Fear that I wouldn’t get into to the school I wanted…fear of leaving everything I knew to chase my dreams. Then it was fear of being a single mom, fear of not being a good mom, fear of failing myself and my unborn child.” Read more here.
Janet Fox: “Because, at 17, secure and happy with Mike, I decided one day to drop him like a hot rock. And I dropped him for his at-the-time-but-not-to-continue best friend. Stupid, stupid, stupid. But only in hindsight, from way down life’s road.” Read more here.
K. Ashley Dickson: “I was haunted by the discovery that the larger world was spinning at a dizzyingly fast speed, and I suddenly launched into that world, desperate to catch up with it and make myself part of it.” Read more here.
These are all amazing stories, each one true to that moment, that memory, that place, the truth of being 17, because we all have so many truths. I read every word—and I hope you will, too.
I tried to leave comments on all these posts—when comments were open—or contact everyone if I could find a way to contact you to see if you’d like some 17 & GONE swag in thanks. Please get a hold of me if I missed you, or if I missed your post.
I’m truly honored—humbled, really; surprised, also; plain thrilled—that so many people took part in this and shared their Haunted at 17 stories. Thank you for writing them and thank you for reading them and thank you for helping me celebrate the release of my haunted little book.