A Hermosa Beach Teen and Southbay Contributor Takes a Pause

Out of the blue.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Kailani Melvin
  • Illustrated by
    Yuiko Sugino

Every morning on my drive to school, I pass the ocean. That’s one of the great wonders of living in the South Bay: being so close to the coast. As I listen to a podcast or music while my dad and I make the 30-minute trip up to Culver City, the early-morning sun makes the ocean shine. 

Sometimes the horizon looks so sharp, I imagine I could pluck it like a guitar string. Other days there’s a lazy fog yawning over the sea, and I can’t differentiate the sky from the water. But the ocean is always there … and (almost always) I never notice it.

Living so close to natural beauty is a fantasy for many. However, I feel I’ve become desensitized to it for two reasons. The first: I’m distracted and preoccupied like everyone else. The other, and the one that’s a little more subconscious: It makes me feel insecure.

Insecure? How can an expansive body of water make me, a teen girl, feel insecure? It’s not so much the ocean but the beauty of it. After all, the city I live in literally translates to “beautiful beach.”

When the weather is so perfect, I feel I always must seize the day. Even when I want to stay in bed, I feel the sun smirking at me, taunting, “Wow, you’re sooooo lazy!” Why should I complain when everything is so beautiful?

Oddly enough, this is the mindset being pushed onto teenagers—especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s so much pressure to “handle everything,” manage your time wisely, maintain perfect grades, keep a social life and generally be OK. The world we inhabit is so motivated by success that oftentimes it seems outright impossible to slow down. We’re all so eager to get back to “normal life” again … but has it ever occurred to us that maybe life isn’t normal yet?

The things my peers are accomplishing are remarkable; I’m so impressed with their tenacity and strength. However, I worry that in an effort to make up for the years we lost, we are prioritizing achievement over mental health. The teenage years are tumultuous even without a pandemic looming like a storm cloud. It’s OK to acknowledge you aren’t OK. Even when the sun is shining, even if things seem perfect, they might not be … and that’s OK.

I have a challenge for you: Take a moment, stop and look at the ocean. Not because you should have been looking at it all along. Just look because it’s pretty. It’s as simple as that.

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