This summer, I dove into several unexplored territories: a new city, my first internship and my first time being more than a half hour away from home for an extended time.
The most surprising and overwhelming part of my summer, however, did not relate to any of these things.
It was a Jonas Brothers concert.
A friend and I drove to Charlotte, N.C., at the end of July to see our beloved boy band. We had bought the tickets months ago, on the day they were released. I had been in the middle of a literature class, frantically clicking to get our second row, VIP seats.
When the order was completed, I nearly threw my hands in the air in celebration, catching myself just in time to prevent extreme judgment from my classmates and professor.
The VIP tickets included a meet and greet.
After an incredible summer working in Nashville, the day had arrived. We got to the venue early and stood near the front of what seemed like an endless line of teenage girls. All of them were around my age, all of us there to meet the band we had gushed over in middle school and early high school.
Every girl was dressed to the nines; their makeup sweating off during the three-hour wait in the 90-degree sun. Most stayed within their little group, my friend and I included.
I had expected an oasis of JoBro fan-girl acceptance, but what I got was much different. It was less like a community of fans and more like a beauty contest with each girl competitively eying the next.
We heard girls analyzing each others outfits and discussing how to make the most lasting impact on the JoBro of their choice. “What do I say? Should I try and be funny? Joe likes funny girls, I think,” a blonde girl in a floor-length dress said while tugging on her hair.
I kept looking around me and wondering if all these girls were serious. I surely was not like that.
They wanted Kevin, Nick and Joe to remember them, to think them unique out of the thousands of girls there.
"This is an irrational desire," I thought to myself. They meet hundreds of fans everyday, there is no possible way to differentiate between all of those teenage girls.
Why did they think this really mattered? The crying girls seemed to consider this was a pivotal moment in their lives. Somewhere in this atmosphere of fame and beauty, they had forgotten what real life was like. This was all fake, an illusion.
I told myself this as we inched forward, my stomach tightening in anxiety the closer we got. I did not address my own nerves and was sure they were a product of something other than my impending meeting with a trio of celebrities.
What was this desire to seem important to those who were important? They were drawn like a moth to this flame of influence, fame and wealth. So much so that they were willing to spend $250 on a ticket.
The voice in my head said, “You spent that money, too, Claire.”
When our turn finally came, I had all of about 20 seconds with the brothers. Enough time to hug Joe (sigh) and pose for a picture before being rushed along so the next girl could have her turn. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized that clenched feeling in my stomach was disappointment.
Maybe we wanted them to affirm our value, to call us out as special, to make us feel that we too could be adored. Maybe this Jonas obsession was a reflection of what we thought of ourselves.
I looked down at my clothes as if seeing them for the first time.
Regardless of the reason, I had dressed up, too.
Claire Dodson is a junior in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.