Teenagers don’t get enough credit these days. There I said it. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Especially considering how well my age fits in the range that I am lobbying for but please spare me a few minutes and hear me out.
I’m sure you’ve come across a post like this at one point in your life whether its around finals time and teenagers have publicized their insane exam schedule or just another post complaining about the constant choice between social life, academics and sleep. You probably scoffed at our incompetence and made a remark similar to, “when I was your age…” But no, that’s not the point. This isn’t a game of who had a harder childhood, this is a cry for help, a cry for reform. Because maybe you did have a harder childhood and you had your chance at making a change but you didn’t. So it’s our turn now, and please, spare us a few minutes and hear us out.
Teenagers, no matter in which generation, are stuck in a position filled with misunderstanding and miscommunication. We’ve passed the age where it’s ok to throw tantrums when we don’t get our wish fulfilled or cry over disappointment and pain, whether it be physical or emotional. We’ve reached an age where adults demand “maturity” from us and apparently, maturity is synonymous with robotic because we are expected to make completely rational decisions devoid of all emotional attachments. Words such as responsibility, independence are thrown at us but when we try to live up to these glorified characteristics, we are deemed as rebellious and impulsive.
We try to make a difference in the world and stand up for our beliefs only to be laughed at by parents and older siblings. “You’re too young.” “What do you know?” These phrases are hurled at us as if they weren’t lecturing us about chasing after our dreams and taking responsibility for our own actions a minute ago. They mock us when we tell them that we love him because how could you be in love at seventeen. You can’t possibly understand something as complicated as love and be able to navigate a word with as many implications attached as love. But so what if we don’t understand what love is. Is that not the point of being a teenager? So we can mess up and try again? So we can fail and weep and stand up taller and stronger than before?
No. You are expected to choose an university program to attend that will ultimately lead you on a path to success, but here’s the catch, only if you listen to my advice. Yes, I agree, it is completely 100% your life to live. No you don’t get to decide your life. Because I am an adult, I have breathed more air and digested more food than you therefore my decision about your future will always be more correct than yours. You can travel when you have your own savings. You can save the environment when you are financially stable. You can start your own fashion line when you have mothered two kids and they are 18 and you are 50 and no longer remember your designs at 17. Take the safe road. I am your mother. I am your father. We only want what’s best for you.
I know you do. But please, spare me a few minutes and hear me out. I want you to trust me to make my own mistakes and learn from it. I want you to remember how it felt like sixteen years ago when you let go and I stood up and after falling a few times I began walking, then running, then jumping and the absolute joy that you felt because my laughter was infectious. The room reeked of delight because for the first time in my life I accomplished something on my own and I was genuinely, 100% happy.
Sure, I may not succeed the first time but like the bedtimes stories you’ve been reading to me since I was three, neither did Thomas Edison. Neither did anyone who left a legacy so please, trust me and let me leave my own legacy.
Never once has there been so many temptation within our reach, so much information available to us at the click of a button. It’s the digital age. A time where we could find out the income tax of Romania in the matter of minutes or the engagement of that one ex. A time of possibilities. So please, trust us in exploiting these opportunities. Trust that we are not a generation that only cares about the number of followers on instagram or the number of retweets we get on a super relatable tweet. We are more than that, I promise you. At least we try to be.
But it’s hard. It’s hard to care about intelligence and inner peace when the entire school seems be obsessed with who’s best dressed and who’s fucking who. It’s hard to care more about learning rather than marks when universities that we are pressured to attend are searching for that 98% average valedictorian applicant. When we seem to be defined by numbers that show up on report cards and scales rather than meaningful friendships and fulfilled dreams. When we seem to be defined by words that are whispered as gossip rather than compliments given to brighten another’s day. It’s hard to be a teenager.
So if you really want the best for us, don’t pressure us into accepting that finance program while shutting us out when we try to describe to you the interior design of homes we wish to build. Don’t hold us down when we are ready to walk, run and even jump on our own. Instead, tell us that we are not defined by the difference between our reflections in the mirror and the pictures of photoshopped Barbies in glossy magazines. Teach us that the number of lives that we have left positive impacts on and the number of times we’ve stood up after a painful fall are what defines us. Let us grow into adults who can look back and say, “when I was a teenager, I did some stupid shit. But I’m glad that I did because otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here in my own bakery, smelling the drops of vanilla extract escape my oven on a Tuesday afternoon.”