As anyone over the age of 13 learns, being a teenager is sometimes the most stressful time in your life. Not only do we have to deal with the everyday penitentiary that you all call “School” but we also have to deal with friends, chores, social lives, Twitter, Facebook, parents, homework, and the occasional boyfriend/girlfriend. Now yes, all you parents did manage to get through high-school one way or another, but what you don’t realize is that even though it’s the same grade levels or same building or even the same teachers, it is NOT the same. About 20 years ago, a school bully could get away with mugging for lunch money, shoving kids inside lockers, beating up the nerds, starting food fights, and pulling school pranks. In today’s school society however, a bully can only get away with name-calling and the spread of rumors or embarrassing stories. Now how did we go from having the whole football team beat up the science club to calling a kid an idiot? The answer is experience. When your parents were in school they went through what hardships they had to, just as you did or are doing and just as your kids will, but none of the problems are related anymore. The entire system has changed completely.
Do your parents ever say, “Well back in my day…” and then go off about how if you’d have pulled that stupid stunt you just did in their day that you’d have gotten beaten senseless? Yeah, mine too. Now I’m not criticizing any parents here, but you have got to understand that my generation is not the same as the generation before or after it. My generation was spoiled by the great economic standards of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. My generation grew up listening to artists like Nelly, Taylor Swift, and Drake. My generation was too young to understand the importance of funding jobs for the economy. My generation’s idea of entertainment is watching 6 half-Italian people go out and get drunk, and then scream and beat the crap out of each other. My generation never knew people like: Jimmy Valvano, Mike Ditka, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Hulk Hogan, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Micheal Jordan, or Ric Flair.
My generation grew up with people like: Snooki, HoneyBooBoo, Lebron James, Christiano Ronaldo, and Lady Gaga. Now whether that determines what kind of kids we are is up to us, but it sure doesn’t leave us with a lot of great people to look up to. However, there are people from my generation that, as teenagers, are beginning to make a turn around and bring back some hope that’s been abandoned by our critics. We teens are realizing that to make it in today’s world of economic hardships and crowded businesses, you’ve got to pull your sleeves up, get your hands dirty, and make a living for yourself. In high school, you’re asked by almost everyone what you want to be when you grow up, as if 16 years of growing up doesn’t count at all, and when you answer, think about whatever it is that you want to do when you do become able to support a family and answer that question honestly. It’s ok if you don’t make it to the big leagues, it’s ok if you didn’t get into Harvard or Yale. It’s ok if you didn’t get to do exactly what you wanted to do. What’s important is that you go in everyday that you’re assigned to do that job, and give 100%.
As a teenager myself, I’ve decided that the rest of this year is going to be different. I’m going to work harder in school, I’m going to be more honest with my parents, I’m going to keep my grades up, and I’m going to start tutoring. I’m going to do all of these things because I’ve realized that if I don’t turn around my act soon, I’ll be working until I’m 70. High school is where you become yourself more than anywhere else, it’s where you learn your strengths and weaknesses and where you meet the people who will help shape you for the next 4 years that you’re there. Don’t think of high school as a mountain, a mountain so high that you can’t see to the top and so you stumble up it almost falling off the edge several times. Think of high school as a job, a job that you’ve been assigned by your parents to do. A job that will one day earn you a ticket to college.
Now, before I finish this article, I’d like to use a quote from my favorite poet/performing artist George Watsky. Watsky has a poem entitled “Letter to my Sixteen year old self,” and in the poem Watsky speaks a line that is so true it makes you want to cry. Watsky says “There are gonna be days where gravity feels like it’s working overtime like it’s afraid of getting laid off and you are going to have a choice, do you wanna see this world as ugly…or beautiful?” When Watsky says this line, my brain starts to fume and smoke emits from my ears because I realize that through my years in high school, Watsky’s right. Watsky has never been more right! It’s as if he knows exactly what hardships my generation will face, and it’s because of one word. Experience.