Marah’s diary is produced in collaboration with Syria Deeply, a digital news outlet covering the Syrian crisis. It was translated from the Arabic by Mais Istanbelli.

In my city, guys and girls have undergone a radical change. Since the start of the uprisings, everything has changed: their opinions, their aspirations, the way they talk, their expressions and even the way they look.

We used to have great conversations. We loved music from the West as well as local stuff, and we would race to listen to the newest albums. We loved movies of all kinds, in all languages, especially comedies. We were interested in fashion and design. We were attracted to anything new. We lived a wonderful life. We made adolescent mistakes.

Now we have turned into old women and men. All we can talk about is food, electricity, water, firewood. There is no cellphone coverage and no television. We are deprived of our teenage pastimes.

Shopping used to be one of my favorite things to do. I loved going window-shopping with my friends after school and getting excited about a bright-colored purse or a shiny pair of shoes. Now we display that same level of excitement over rare treats like a piece of fruit. Can you believe it? We never expected this to happen.

We used to see the boys around school, carrying flowers and wrapped presents for their beloveds, wearing their nicest clothes. Their eyes were filled with love, happiness, hope. Now, the streets around the school are empty, and all the guys are out fighting on the front lines. When we happen to see them, their hair is shaggy and their shoes are dirty. Now they carry rifles instead of roses. If you look at their faces, all you see is worry and frustration.

Everything has turned upside down. Everyone is depressed. Sometimes we laugh and cry at the same time. How did this happen to us?

I feel sorry for myself and for all my fellow Syrian youth. I hope that our situation changes soon, so that our souls and dreams might reawaken. I’m afraid we will regret living through our teenage years without the normal teenage rites of passage. This is not how youth is meant to be lived. Will this war damage us for the rest of our lives? How will we make up for what we’ve lost? ♦