June 2002
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The Misconceptions of Today's Youth
By Tara Dunphy, Holy Heart High School, St. John's, NF

You know, sometimes I wonder what being a teenager is all about. Are these the informative years where we should take in all the information and knowledge we can? Are these the years where we become rebellious just because? Is being a teenager the test before you reach adulthood? Really, just what is a teenager and where exactly do we fit in the whole scheme of things.

I know personally, that in school I feel great pressure to be successful and I guess that's the way it should be but sometimes the academic pressures, not to mention the social ones, can become downright stressful. I know a lot of people just generalize us into one group and say that we are all just lazy slobs brought up on video games and television. I want people to know that I am not that. I am someone who cares and viewpoints and opinions. I worry about issues that affect our world. I do not hate my parents! Actually, I try very hard to make my parents proud. After all, they are the most important people in my life . My dad keeps me grounded and is the greatest man in the world and my mom is who I look to for support and comfort, is my rock. Another thing, I did not get my tongue pierced to make my parents mad or because I am rebellious. I did it because I wanted to and that's that. My parents seemed fine with my new idea and so I made the appointment and got it done. I can never understand why people make such a big deal over that.

I think I can speak for most of my generation when I say that I do care about the issues of today. I hate when people say that we are all apathetic. I worry about the Middle East crisis just like most other people. I think about issues like child labor, women's rights, racism, sexism. Someone once told me that it is the things that you don't do, not the things you did that get you into heaven. I know I said I think about these issues but you are probably asking do I do anything and I am answering that question with: definitely. There are many youth organizations out there. One here at Holy Heart is Interact. The group focusses on world issues and how we as students can make voices for ourselves so we can speak what we believe. If some people looked in the right places they would see what we "lazy slobs" can really do. Another thing, I actually do watch the news, I have even been known to read a paper every now and then and not just for the comics.

Some people say that these are the years we will never get back and that they will be the best days of our lives. I do try to gain as much knowledge as I can. I listen to every word that every adult, peer, anyone tells me. Even though sometimes I yell and seem like I'm not listening. I am! I do listen and I take in every word. I do make decisions for myself, however. I always hear people say " teenagers just don't listen, it's just like talking to a brick wall". I hate that statement because I don't think people realize just how much we do listen. We hear you. We hear all the put downs, all the bad things you have to say, and we hear all the good things too. Every piece of all that knowledge goes into our minds and is stored there until we need it. That is the knowledge that we will keep for the rest of our lives. Tell me this, though, when is the last time you heard about a great teenager or do you hear about them at all? Usually stories that will make us all look bad are what is shown because it's just better entertainment. It's a shame because there are some incredible kids out there that we are probably missing out on.

You know a word I despise? The word "minor". That is what the ages 14-18 are referred to as. What does this mean exactly? It basically means that we are minor parts of society. That's an interesting concept, take the people who will run the world in the future at our most vital ages and label us as minors. That doesn't sound so great to me. We are very important and should be treated so. Only in some instances are we treated with the true respect we deserve. Which brings me to another point, I can honestly say that a good percentage of teachers get it. I think that is because they really observe us in our element, they see our highs and lows, they know our alarms and they know how to talk to us so that they don't set these alarms off. They basically study us all day. They read our work and they see our creativeness which is a side of us that most people don't see. They watch us work and they can see what we behave like around our peers and other adults. There is some kind of unspoken mutual respect that usually exists between teacher and student, well there is for me anyway. If they didn't know us as well as they do then I don't think they would be able to do their job correctly. The teachers that get it, and I mean the really great ones, the ones that just click, that is what makes them amazing teachers. They know what they are teaching, of course, but they also realize that there is more than just that and that shows through when they teach. They know who they are teaching and they know how to break barriers. Plus, if you get a really great one and I have a had a few teachers that will know who you are as an individual even away from your group. It's those teachers that can be particularly amazing.

"Teenagers do not know how easy they have it." That statement blows me away every time I hear it. I am not in any way going to try and take away from what the generations before us went through because I couldn't. They had it very hard. I don't like it, however, when people try and tell us that we do not. Yes, we do have a lot of good things going for us, we have more technologies, better working condition and okay we have colored televisions. We do see very difficult things and we do try and get through very difficult issues as well. My problem is when generations before us try and make our problems smaller compared to theirs when really if it is a problem it is or should be of equal value. The social scene itself is pure contest. The emotional side effects of not being successful at fitting in can be the most horrible thing a person can go through. School, primarily junior highs are breeding grounds for this sort of thing like bullies and isolation of peers that don't seem to be "normal". We see teen suicide on the rise. All of these advances that everyone says are better for us add a great deal of pressure. Everything in this day and age is competition. It is very difficult to deal with everything at once. What about all the images we are forced to look at in magazines and on television and everywhere really? Is this what we should look like, dress like, laugh at, not laugh at, where we should go in life and all that kind of stuff? Is that what the media is trying to tell us? Some people will take away from this kind of thing that if we don't look like Kate Moss, we don't wear Calvin Klein and we do not becomes doctors and lawyers or models and actors that we are all failures in life. Pure pressure is what it becomes and then disorders like bulimia nervosa and manic depressive diseases comes up as a huge problem. I wonder why? Everyone is on a logic brain wave and the only thing a lot of people care about is getting things done faster and finding easier ways to do it all.

Whatever happened to just being sometimes? The world keeps spinning and moving and I feel like I'm stuck back at square one. If I don't care about making a six figure income then I am considered crazy by many people. Can someone explain to me exactly what that is, and how that works. Since when does the amount of money you make have anything to do with how happy you are? I don't see the connection. Maybe that's just a cliche but I really don't see the connection there. The internet, a so called "great thing", I personally don't think is all that great. Although it can be pretty amazing it opens us all up to things that shouldn't be possible to get. Especially for teenagers. If I wanted to learn how to make a bomb, my grated teacher , the internet would be able to teach me. The Internet gives people open hunting ground for lonely vulnerable souls. Cyber Stalkers. Look at the number of teens falling into that trap. That's all the problems we face as teens. Something the other generations either don't want to see or just do not care to look.

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure, Stress, Stress, Stress and still somehow we manage to have fun. I think we just need a little more credit.

I was not brought up on television and video games. I do appreciate my parents. I do care about world issues and I am not a "wall" or a "minor". I am a teenager and I do have a lot to offer given the opportunity and so do a lot of others. I do not think the word "teenagers" should conjure up anything negative. One more thing, I want people to remember that what you hear about one teen does not mean that every teen is like that. What one bad seed decides to do does not mirror the rest of us.

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