AFH Photo // Casey Hudson
Miguel Marte, 16, and Rachelle Bodden, 16, are what you would call a fairy-tale couple. For they are always lovey-dovey and have been dating for, at the most recent count, nine months and three days. 
They know almost everything about each other and have even considered a future together 10 years from now. They both believe in real love and say that they have faced some difficulties but have always overcome them. 
“Love can be defined in so many ways and found in many places,” says Bodden, “but it just takes that one person to feel complete.” 
Many say that romance is dead. 
Not so! 
Kiara Jimenez, 16, from Dorchester, believes in the existence of love even if it can’t be scientifically proven. 
Love is trusting, she says, but also feeling safe with that special person. 
Jimenez is currently dating a boy named JR. It’s almost their 10-month anniversary, but they can already see themselves in several years with a dog and two kids -- a boy and a girl. 
Jimenez says there’s no hurry. 
“At the end of it all.” she says, “the person you really need will come when you least expect it.” 
Isaiah Smith, 17, from Roxbury, isn’t wasting his time trying to find his partner yet. He believes in love and the feeling of caring, wanting, and appreciating another person. 
But after being in an unrequited relationship last year, he says, he decided to think more seriously about his future and the fact that school needs him to be in control of his emotions. 
“Remember who you choose,” says Smith, “because the wrong love is [an] unhealthy one. 

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AFH Photo // Archibaldo Soto
Amiya Stephney knows how to be simply happy. 
“Some things that makes me happy, for example, are the little things from a friend or family member,” says the 16-year-old, from Hyde Park. 
For many teens, finding happiness can be a frustrating pursuit. Others, though, feel that they’ve hit upon the answer. 
“Opportunity makes me happy,” says Kaishaun Bleech, 17, from Dorchester. “Life has so much to offer” 
Lynelle Clervil, 17, from Dorchester, says that breaking into laughter brings her joy. 
She believes that everyone deserves to smile consistently. 
“Without happiness,” she says, “someone would just grow bitter and miserable.” 
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AFH Photo // Adam Nguyen
For Melinda Rosa, shopping is like a hobby. 
“It makes me feel good when I buy new things,” says Rosa, 16, from Dorchester. “The only downside about shopping is when I overdo it and spend a lot.” 
Many teens try to stay trendy, purchasing the latest fashions and technology. 
It helps them fit in. And it can give them a sense of independence. 
“I started buying stuff on my own when I was 14.” says Linh Phan, a junior at Boston Latin Academy. “It was when I was buying my family Christmas gifts.” 
The expectation of getting a paycheck and treating yourself is a positive feeling, teens say. 
“I started buying my own stuff when I first got a job,” says Rosa. 
Rayven Frierson, a junior from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says that more than the next big thing, she considers appearance and affordability in her clothing purchases. 
“A trend may be valuable to others since they feel like it’s the hottest thing on earth,” she says. “I do not really think about trends. I just think about what shirt and pants would look good together.” 
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AFH Photo
Jerry Laplant, a senior at TechBoston Academy, tells the story of how his manager tried to manipulate him at work. 
In the start of June 2016, he says, he told her that he needed time to study for final exams. She responded, he says, by keeping him on the schedule every day -- and double shifts on weekends. 
She knew he needed the job. 
“I hate when people try to control you,” Laplant says. 
Seventeen-year-old Saphina Maxis, from Mattapan, knows the meaning of manipulation: “Influence in an unfair manner.” 
When her father first came to the US, she says, he didn’t have a place to live so he stayed with his sister. She was strict: No cooking without her permission -- even if he was hungry. He couldn’t use the laundry. 
He was sad until the day came when he could finally move out. 
Sherley Valeus, a senior at Boston International High School, says she had a friend who tried to play her. 
She wanted Valeus to steal money from her own family and built up sympathy by saying that no one cared about the friend. 
Valeus says she felt bad but did not want to be a thief. 
“The thing about [some] friends,” Valeus says now, “is that...you always need to be careful around them.” 
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AFH Photo // David Allen Douyon
To 15-year-old Maria Andrade, maturity more than age is what matters in the long run. 
“Maturity demonstrates that you are responsible and capable,” says Andrade, who attends the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers. 
Society seems intent on assigning a number to every possible thing. But, teens say, maturity is a better way to determine whether they are ready to deal with things or not. 
“Being mature is when someone has been through life,” says Mikeria Marshall, 15, from Roxbury. “When someone reaches maturity, they know how to handle challenges that life throws at them.” 
Medgene Joseph, 15, says that age can mean zero. 
“Maturity is definitely more relevant to me,” says Joseph, who goes to school in Dorchester. 
She offers a dating scenario to back her argument: “If you’re 16 and dating someone who is 18 and childish, then what’s the point? But if you are 17 and dating a sophisticated 15-year-old, then that might go somewhere.” 
Or, as Andrade says: “Age….is just a number that sticks with you forever.” 
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