By Lori Draz and Alyssa Pepsny
Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month, our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact The Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry – let’s just get to sharing.
This month’s author is Sea Bright’s 16-year-old Alyssa Pepsny, a junior at Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch. Alyssa is one of four sisters, all of whom are experienced, competing sailors. Alyssa loves her time on the water and the many lessons it has taught her, including independence, problem-solving, relationship-building, and how to live without the pressure of technology. She shares how turning off her phone and tablet opened her eyes and mind to a world she would never trade. Here is Alyssa’s story.
Most people recognize me as either a sailor or a sister. I have three sisters: Lauren, 17, Megan, 14, and Brianna, 12, but it was my mother that got us started as sailors. She wanted all her daughters to sail, as she knew it would be a great way to make memories and have a hobby we could keep doing together, even when we grew older. Also, growing up in Sea Bright, it is important to enjoy spending time doing beach or water activities to be able to connect with the neighbors.
Sea Bright is the perfect town for my family because of how our lives revolve around the water. Our house is on the river, which allows us to sail when the weather permits. Also, living in a town in between the Navesink River and the ocean, you meet other sailors as well as people interested in learning how to sail. Living in a small town allows us to become more connected with our neighbors and make new friends. However, having three sisters, I always have a friend to sail with.
Sailing with my sisters is not always smooth sailing. But being with any one of my sisters allows me to feel protected, even if we are sailing in a storm. Since we are all experienced sailors, we can bounce ideas off each other about the way we are sailing. Through that process, I learn more about sailing, as well as become closer to my sisters. We are making lifelong memories that no one can take away from us, all while doing something we love. It is comforting to know that even when we are older, we can all do something together. We are all advanced and experienced sailors, but we all still love sailing with each other, whether we are just cruising or if we are racing.
There are different types of sailing: cruising or racing, socially or solo. Each comes with unique experiences and I enjoy them all. For me, it does not matter how you sail or to what level you sail; sailing gives you freedom. As a teenager, I have limited freedom, but sailing allows me to be free and discover who I am. Sailing allows me to be a unique person while detoxing from the chaos in modern society brought on by social media.
In modern society, our lives revolve around technology, but being out on the water lets me take a refreshing break from social media and other forms of technology. Being without technology, I discovered how dependent I have become on it. I also created solutions to prevent becoming too dependent on technology. On the water, I am able to discover who I am without judgment or pressure from social media. Many people feel pressure and stress to conform to the societal pressures, but while sailing, I am able to focus on the more important things, such as having fun.
Sailing teaches me to live in the moment. Out on the water, one has to react quickly because a lot could go wrong if one is not paying attention. Sailing is a great distraction to the busy, technical flow of most days. The sailor is forced to focus on the here and now and the actions of the fellow sailors. For me, it taught me to stay connected with my sisters. I am very close to my sisters and I credit it to sailing. It’s a common sport for all of us, and a really nice way to have fun and spend time with each other. Sailing has also been the platform for discovering similar sports that we all could enjoy doing together. Even if I am sailing with other people, I still learn more about myself, since being out on the water allows me to reflect on my memories. I really enjoy not being surrounded by technology. Shutting off electronics gives me the chance to be the real me, not be a victim to the constant judgment and comparisons you find online. Being without the technology feels freeing, and I am not limited or belittled when I am sailing. I feel mature, in control, capable of solving a problem, and empowered. Overall, sailing allows my sisters and me to be better people