What It’s Like To Be A Teen In 2017: an open letter from a 16 year old viewing the world around her

I can open hardheartedly say that I am not at a stage where I know what’s wrong and what’s right. I don’t have the have skills or the confidence to make my own decisions regarding my own future. I am naive because I trust too easily and I’ve been told me heart is too pure.

I am lost and have a lot to learn—which is rare for a teen to say today considering us teens think we know everything. I might not know a lot of things but I do have at least but I can tell what it’s like to be a teen in 2017.

Every decade has evolved drastically. My parents had it easier beings teens. They didn’t grow up with technology and they didn’t grow up with magazines spreading their ideal of perfection—“the perfect body,” “the perfect guy,” “how to be the perfect you.” Today everyone strives to be perfect. I need perfect grades. I need the perfect college app, etc. At my school a perfect teen would refer to someone who pretty much has a high ranking in popularity, someone who spends most of their time socializing with a tons of different people, and someone who can easily impress people. There’s the “perfect” person who seemingly has it all: The perfect grades. The perfect body. The perfect personality.

Teenagers nowadays really feel the need to be perfect. Everyone strives to be categorized in the group of “cool.” Every teen wants attention and wants to be known as a popular person. Every teen wants to give out a good impression on everyone they meet.

Every girl wants to look the magazine standard of pretty and have the perfect body. You can’t leave the house without wearing makeup. Is it even a shock for parents to hear this? 16 years old don’t look 16 anymore. Everyone unconsciously looks older because their subsiding to peer pressures and adjusting to norms displayed on TV shows or in magazines. Teens achieve looking older, but don’t be fooled because our mind sets are still immature. Looking older than we really are is the “perfect look.”

Some teens set expectations for themselves just to live up to norms and someone else ideals of perfect. Others follow in their footsteps because they just want to fit in and not the “black sheep.” They don’t want to be picked on for being different.

Teens can’t be unique anymore. If they’re any different that would make them stand out. This is why many teens lack in self-confidence.  Most teens want to avoid the feeling of being known as a nerd, or a lame girl/boy. They want to be known as the kid that throws a sick party and the kid everyone loves company of. All of these things aide in teens insecurities. No one feels good enough anymore.

Everyone has this constant urge to look good. Instead of going to school to learn and focus on education, which I personally feel is most important, teens go to school and worry about things like “is this outfit good enough?.”

Body image is something effects a lot of teenage girls. They never ever want to hear the word “fat” in their life come out of anyone’s mouth and if do you’re ruining their self-confidence for God knows how long. The minute they hear something like that it can affect them massively.

When teens pick out one negative thing about someone, it’s not just that one negative thing that person will focus it. They will start elaborating more on the aspect of being fat by thinking their ugly or too short. It slowly leads to complete analysis of themselves and that creates unnecessary problems in that teen’s life.

When it comes to social media we all need to make sure we’re staying on top of trends and that our posts are getting enough likes. We are fascinated with unique movements like the “mannequin challenge” that our elders would probably find extremely weird. Our viral movements such as these and our sad fascination with things like the “catch me outside how bow dah” girl show all around the world teenagers are obsessed with the same things—we all have the same mind set.

Another thing is there’s so much bullying. The new Netflix Original “13 Reasons Why” highlights how the small things in a teens life have a drastic and negative impact on their emotional health. Because of severe bullying teens are more prone to suicide. I’ve known bullying has been a thing even when my parents were in high school but for some reason, bullying has never led to suicide as much as it has now.  Social media has made the bullying private, harsher, and more direct. Cyber bullying is one of the worst things that can happen to a teen. Social media aides in feedings teens with harsh comments or sick jokes.  Lots of teens have social and emotional issues that take place in their life that they have to deal with but don’t know how to address or have the knowledge to cope with without their parents help. If the parents are never around or not supportive, those issues will slowly build up and get worse.  Why are teens having massive break downs and why are we mentally weak?  These are supposed to be our wonder years but we’re struggling.

Being 16 years old I am struggling to be perfect and I catch myself wanting to fit in. However, I am fortunate to have supportive parents that never make me feel less than. I am growing stronger and smarter each day and I know I still have a lot to learn but most of all I am happy. Being a teen in 2017 is harder than it needs to be.

3 thoughts on “What It’s Like To Be A Teen In 2017: an open letter from a 16 year old viewing the world around her

  1. Just the fact that you are able to notice these things, put you ahead of most teens. Hell, most adults.

    All through life our priorities change. In high school its about fitting in and popularity, then all of a sudden you are 30 and managing a mutual fund portfolio looking at retirement options and RSP contributions. Your new stress is figuring out how you can afford a home, and is your mortgage going to be a fixed term or not. Are you essentially buying a coffin?

    As for looks, well, our body goes through hormonal changes every 10 years. Unless you are a genetic phenom, looks eventually fade.

    Being a teen is a lot harder than it was for me, almost 20 years ago. Just like me being an adult now, is harder than it was for my parents (which you mentioned).

    But again, the fact that you can look at yourself and your surroundings in this light is a great sign of maturity.

    1. Thank you for the the kind words and advice. You’re right. Popularity doesn’t matter in the long run, neither do looks. I’m going to stress about my next exam and put off the mortgage thing for as long as I can haha

  2. What you say rings so true. My children are just entering teenage-hood and I feel sorry for them: as well as all the thing you’ve mentioned, I feel that life has become more complicated and that there are many more things now that young people have to learn and be capable to use, even new subjects at school. If it’s any consolation, you’re all in this together. And, scratching under the surface, you’ll find that nobody, really, is a ‘perfect teen’, even if they look like it.

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