We aren’t “society’s menace”

How many times have you been told to act more like an adult? How many times have you been treated a certain way because “you’re only a kid?”

When people talk about getting older, they always go to the difference between child and adult; we’ve completely forgotten the significance of the period in between that: the teenage chapter. Most people don’t see this time as important, and instead a nuisance. Teenagers are considered to be society’s menace. We can’t be trusted to come home at a reasonable hour, drive at the speed limit, or add a tip. In school, we watch videos and are given charts on how our undeveloped prefrontal cortexes and raging hormones stop us from making rational and mature decisions.

At this same exact time that we are criticized for being inconsiderate, adults seem to both dismiss us and depend on us. We are brushed off as ignorant and egotistical, yet we are trusted and invested in as the future adult generation. We don’t have enough to gamble, but we have too much to lose. We’re caught in a some sick paradox, rejected as real grown-ups by those older than us while simultaneously being shoved through a pre-determined path to adulthood that started the minute we entered high school.

The time we spend as teens is one of the most influential periods in our life. It’s a crucial time of self-determination and discovery. It’s when we’re adolescents that we develop our own opinions, find new ideologies, and develop lifelong interests. It’s the most pivotal point of creating our character. So why do we act as if it’s a undesirable, nonessential transition in life to get from one important time to another? Why do we not value this stage for the impact it has on our minds and our individuality? This is when we should be encouraging expression, not trying to stifle it.

Perhaps one of my favorite quotes from is from the author John Green, in his book Looking for Alaska. “When adults say, ‘Teenagers think they are invincible’ …they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are…They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

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