‘You young ones don’t know you’re born,’ said every old person ever, underestimating the pressures and hells of modern teenage life. Yes, society and technology has come on a long way – but life as a teen is by no means easy. In fact, even though adults endure everything from work problems to debt, no period of your life comes close to being as difficult as your teenage years. Everything is changing both physically and emotionally and yet you are thrust in to the most intense situations of your young life, discovering heartbreak, anxiety, low self esteem and peer pressure along the way. In defence of all teenagers out there, here’s the proof that those of us who have emerged out of the other side should be far more understanding of them.
‘Fail your exams and get into university or life is over and you’ll gather dust on a checkout’ is basically the message hammered home by teachers and parents. The terror of failing and facing a bleak future of no income and no pride results in sleepless nights and serious spells of anxiety. When, at the end of the day, it isn’t really the end of the world if you don’t get the results you wanted.
Hormones and puberty
While this pressure mounts against you to do well, your body is trolling you. One minute you’re angry, the next you’re tearful and you just don’t know why. Teenagers aren’t awkward and confrontational by choice, even if they are treated that way. Our good friend science has proven that mood swings are a biological part of growing up. And as your emotions take on that rollercoaster ride, you’re sprouting pus filled blimps on your face, gaining and shedding puppy fat from nowhere, growing hair in strange places, smelling quite pungent from your armpits and other less savoury places and half of you start to bleed on a monthly basis too. Oh what fun.
Fellow teenagers can be so cruel. Bullying goes on at all ages and in all locations but the intensity of it during school years can be seriously traumatic and there are very few people that escape those years without falling victim to it. With peer pressure forcing you to conform to standards and hobbies or face a backlash, teenage life is a minefield. And the bombs are particularly nasty if when you step on them. When something as minor as wearing a pair of shoes that were last month’s fashion can make you vulnerable to cruel campaigns, you know it’s hard to win at being a teenager. Add in the social media factor (70% of teens said they’ve seen bullying online in a recent survey) and it’s difficult to get through youth without being scarred by bullies.
Look, they try, but they can’t always get it right. And sometimes they simply aren’t on the same wavelength – they’re not teenagers anymore so often they forget what it felt like to be one.
That first love is just agony isn’t it? Those first stirrings of feelings towards boys and girls lead your heart on a bit of a harsh journey – and nothing else from school to family matters once your heart has decided to launch itself at someone. Longing for someone takes over your life and you think you’ll never love someone so intensely again – and you’re probably right. When that first relationship breaks down you just want to give up on life.
Independence and privacy
You get told to act more mature but you still tend to get treated like a kid. While a lot of the mollycoddling is necessary, there is a distinct lack of privacy for teenagers who are desperate to assert and enjoy some independence.
Picking that dress / suite. Finding a date. The horror of a zit appearing on your chin. Being invited to an after party. Weren’t these things meant to be fun!?
Teenagers find themselves categorised into certain sub-groups from geeks and goths to skaters and hipsters based on what they enjoy and what they wear and many struggle with the culture of having to fit in to a certain group. What if you like black clothes AND One Direction? Being pigeon-holed can be soul destroying.
Being tarred with the same brush
Teenagers have a bad reputation due to a small minority of so-called ‘hoodies’ getting into trouble. Yeah some teens are louts and give adults cheek. Just like some adults are thugs and criminals. On the other edge of the coin, many teens are hard working, pleasant human beings who are getting a bit sick of being treated as if they are all the same.