If anyone says that your teenage years are your best, don’t believe them.
One of my teachers once offered this maxim, that ‘your teenage years are the best of your life’, to the class. I didn’t think much of it at the time, it didn’t make much sense, so I filed it away with the rest of the nonsense that some adults try to get away with telling children.
I never really explored the proposition fully until a few weeks ago, when Jordan Owen (perhaps hyperbolically) said that this idea probably increases the number of school massacres.
Put yourself in the position of a young person who goes, for example, to a school with small-minded teachers and cruel bullies, and has no choice but to go, five days per week and some idiots are telling these kids that it’s going to get worse?
Looking back on the moment when the teacher made this claim in front of us, I realise that I should’ve been offended.
He chose to become a teacher, to have a family, and now tells us that whatever stupid stuff he did as a teen was more fulfilling than nurturing children and imparting them with knowledge. (He was a fine teacher, otherwise.)
Rights and Responsibilities
Does it seem perverse, yet? Put it this way: the teenage years mark the transition from having pretty few positive rights and responsibilities, to having a whole lot of both.
I’m much happier now than I was as a teenager (and I didn’t go through the absurd emotional changes that many do), because I appreciate the freedom that I have more than I’m brought down by the responsibilities.
Leaving your teenage years behind means more responsibilities. True, but the beauty of this change is that you have the freedom to choose what responsibilities you take on.
I’m making a general point here, I understand that many people do not choose responsibilities such as caring for their parents etc., I admire such people a great deal.
I’ve heard people complain about being responsible for their children, or their mortgage etc.. You chose to have children, and you chose to have the house: you can’t go back on these choices, but, allowing for mistakes and foul play, they’re yours.
If you have children, be the best parent you can, don’t whine about being responsible for a human being whom you brought into the world.
All of these things, apart from the necessities of life, are completely optional. Your are free to choose which of them you want. If you don’t want to have huge bills, meaning a hard job, get a small house and live frugally.
You have to work, morally, in some capacity, this is a corollary of being alive, but you only have to work as much and as hard as reality demands of you.
You get more positive rights bit by bit through your teenage years, but only by age 21 will you have the full set. Moreover, being older and more experienced, people will take you more seriously and you’ll be able to rely on you own decisions to a greater extent.
You can start a business at pretty much any age within reason, but with your full house of rights and as you move into your twenties it will become a much more viable option.
As an adult, and with the correct investment, you can dedicate yourself, all of it, in some cases, to building something: art, a company, music, friendships, in a way that probably wasn’t feasible or legal during your teenage years.
Why Do People Say this?
It’s a tough question, but I think that this attitude might result from people forgetting about the freedoms that they do have, and forgetting that they chose their path. Some adults also seem to think that no freedom and no responsibility would be quite nice.
Some adults might feel, also, that nobody told them that they didn’t have to have a stupid job, that they didn’t have to buy pointless possessions and a huge house.
Maybe they have an excuse. Well, I’m telling you now: you don’t need to do half of the stuff that your elders complain about.
Don’t take for granted the path that people insist upon you taking, do your own research: you’re already using the greatest research tool in the history of civilisation.
Nobody told me that I could make money by writing straight out of secondary school and by picking up skills as I went along, I experimented. Of course I’ve had help, and have called many favours – I know, however, that I’ll also be one to return them.
Work towards where You Want to Be
A few weeks ago, in the pub, I went on a tirade about people who forever describe themselves as ‘aspiring’ (writers, artists, whatever). I said to my friend that nobody will get anywhere without acting, starting something, anything, somewhere.
It may sound like a moot point, but describing yourself as ‘aspiring’ seems to define yourself as being where you don’t want to be, where you should be moving where you want to go.
You have to throw some chips on the pile: you might get ridiculed or lose money, but you’ll get nowhere if you don’t. I’m worried about sounding trite at this point, but I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t see these traits in the people around me.
People say, of course, that you can’t follow your dreams all the time, you have to pay the bills. They’re right, but you’d have some hefty bills if they left you with no room for your dreams.
Furthermore: turn of that damned TV/Netflix and create something; people piss away free time these days.
My friend said to me, on the next occasion that we met, that next year she intends to get a job in the city, and paint for two hours every evening, and that this plan was partly in response to my rant.
This made me very happy.
Teachers, elders and the system also have a lot for which to answer in this regard: I was once talking to some students, one of whom said to me that she wanted to be a writer, but knew that she couldn’t be because she couldn’t spell.
I was about to respond but someone jumped in and changed the subject. I was upset, but didn’t see her again after that.
My response would have been: ‘Do you think I can spell?’ Stuff spelling, this is what spell-checkers and editors are for; if you’re creative and reliable enough, it’ll be worth correcting a few spelling mistakes that slip through.
Further than this, people paid me to write when I was terrible at spelling and, four years on, I’m much better. What depressing mentors might call a gaping whole in your skill set may well not matter and, with the right motivation, can be patched along the way.
So, if you, dear reader, are a teenager and someone tries to tell you that everything get’s worse hereafter, they’re probably wrong. You’re about to gain some powerful freedoms and opportunities: life will be harder, but it’s worth it.
If you’re older, dear reader, enjoy your freedoms.