“You are the Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine, Dancing Queen, young and sweet- Only Seventeen Oh ohhh”
Strutting down the streets on a Friday and Saturday night, with your group of thirty friends, to arrive at either at one of your local nightclubs (probably with a fake ID) or in more recent cases at a pub. Only to get smashed off your faces, to meet new amazing people and of course to have a wonderful time. Then once the weekend is over, you are back at college again, hanging about in the common room. You suddenly realise there is yet another test which you haven’t revised for, however you manage to somehow effortlessly pick up your pen and produce yet another essay worthy of an A. You head to netball practice later on in the evening, where of course you compete on a regional basis in the team you also spend your weekend nights out with! Then at the end of the day when you finally get a bit of time to yourself, you automatically open your Instagram account, which has at least 3000 followers, to check up on everybody else…
Made you giggle? Um well, don’t worry if it did because I am definitely on the same wavelength, as I am sure most of us are. Yet this highlights the way in which we are expected to live up to this high standard lifestyle, which is unrealistic and probably unhealthy . And these expectations have always been there, though I feel that in recent years, this has become somewhat worse…
Actually Everything Sucks
With the amount of external pressures we face as young people, it is going to be hard for us to find the time. Because while in the UK exams have become more difficult with the new 9-1 system, there’s also much pressure on us to have paid jobs. Now I do understand that young people have generally needed to balance some kind of paid work on top of education, but with the pressures of getting certain grades seeming to ever increase, it does seem as if things are getting harder. Leading to some overestimating how stress free our lives are meant to be. I know I was 15 when I found my first job, however I started doing paid work from about the age of 12 or 13, so that I could fund things like clothing which wasn’t considered “essential”. Tipping all this over the edge, there is a lot of pressure for young people to partake in a wide range of extra curricular activities, which generally speaking is a positive. However when it comes to a point where doing this feels more like a chore as opposed to a break, it turns into more of a problem…
It is also desirable to have a social life, meaning a proper one! But in reality not everyone is going to be living up to this kind of standard, and I dare say not everyone would want to! While the rise of the internet has certainly enhanced this. Because without it now I would certainly feel it, Paul from down the road would feel it, and even your Mum would! But some of the implications that this has are toxic, especially for us young soles. Because as we become more exposed to the internet, it means that it will become ever harder for us to find some escape route from expectations, and standards which many already feel obliged to live up to. A study of 1500 15 and 16 year old’s proves this as it found that those who saw more pictures of teenagers smoking and drinking were more likely to do begin themselves. But what really is the trouble with this when young people have always been influenced to some degree by the behavior and lives of their friends? As if it isn’t pictures, young people are still likely to pick up on what their friends are doing by word of mouth. Nevertheless a report shows that “Gen z” as of 2017, spent on average four hours and 10 minutes a day, just on mobile devices. While in normal circumstances, the average school day lasts around 7 hours, this adds a massive amount onto the timeframes of which teens are going to be under these pressures.
“But I Think that Teenagers are Exaggerating”
Okay, so this statement really depends on the teen, because while there are many who have very busy lives, I guess there are a few who genuinely do sit on their beds all day doing nothing. Therefore they can’t really be that stressed can they? While there are people (at least at my school 😥 ) who seem to effortlessly get As, while claiming that they do no work! Now I am sure they are exaggerating, but from an outsiders perspective it can lead to questions about how hard we do actually work . But regardless, it can feel as if though we are working pretty hard, we aren’t working for as long as adults. But yet again, this really does depend on the person.
But if my previous arguments aren’t convincing, and you think I am making rather lame excuses to moan about everything, there is actually a scientific reason as to why we are grumpy a lot of the time. So during adolescence, there are “huge amounts of personality change” where due to these hormonal changes, the young person is perceived to be “less virtuous” to the parent, in this period of time. As well as this there are huge changes in ones environment during teenage years. Because one minute we are almost just children, the next minute we are made to feel like we ought to be off doing things which our parents wouldn’t want us doing then before we know it- it is time to leave home! Even if this is only going to be for a few years. Yikes! And while we are learning so much academically, practically and emotionally, it’s no wonder why we are tired all of the time!
This also makes us more susceptible to mental illness. As “a simple trigger could put one into a state of euphoria or depression”. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 teenagers in the UK suffer from a mental health condition, however in reality it is likely to be much higher due to the fact that many mental health conditions, especially amongst young people, go undiagnosed. Meanwhile 75% of mental health problems are established before the age of 18, meaning that throughout teenage hood we begin to suffer with something which we may not yet have the confidence to seek help for, let alone be able to manage. And though mental illnesses are always very difficult, they tend to be most severe when we are teens/young adults. While often as we grow older, we find ways to live and manage our mental health condition, however when someone first develops something it’s usually much harder.
Can Things Actually get Better?
Now I am aware that I am only a teenager myself, therefore it is hard to comment on whether adulthood can be much better. But I feel and hope that as we age, we learn to overcome issues like pressures, as we emotionally mature. As even as an older teen, managing the same difficulties experienced at a younger age have become a lot easier for me personally, though saying this different challenges have arisen. I am sure that this pattern is still very true at 20, 40 or 60.
It is also true that “the teenage years are considered to be too young an age for one to be fully aware of what being truly happy means”. Therefore this does raise the question as to whether teenagers can really be happy in this essence of being carefree or whether it takes time to develop and learn how to live a happy lifestyle, once we have been removed from the safety bubble of our childhood. If anything at least we should be less susceptible to external pressures which we don’t want to be apart of. Because life should be less of a competition between grades and social status, and rather we will be able to accept ourselves more so and learn to get along with one another. With freedom for everyone to live their lives as they choose.
Therefore maybe it comes down to the mindset of the person as a late teen and in future years, to manage to learn the best way at going about a happy life. Because I am sure that some teenagers really do have a good time at that age, being free, having plenty of friends and fun and not having too much to worry about compared to adults. Yet saying this, the teenage years are a really confusing time, and it can be difficult if you do not fit into that bubble or if you go through a lot at that age. Or even having gone through a lot during childhood and now coming to terms with it but still making the transition from childhood daunting. However usually as we grow, self acceptance grows while generally people are more tolerant of one another. So yes our lives can be great as a teen, nevertheless don’t lose hope if it doesn’t feel this way. And remember that we can make our future better💙