The Teenage Voice
You weren’t afforded the same opportunities as us. But how, exactly, is that our fault?
May 10, 2018
It’s no secret that most adults—and when I say ‘adult’ I am referring primarily to those old enough to have voted in the 2000 election—have a very unflattering opinion of my generation, or as we have been labeled, the infamous ‘Millennials’. Don’t get me wrong, we suck, but the general consensus amongst our elders is that it’s entirely fair to cast us off as ignorant, arrogant, and just plain stupid. We, a fledgling generation of teenagers and young-adults, are but children to them. To be seen and not heard. Adults view us as oblivious to the machinations of the “real world”. Our opinions are written off as idealistic or irrelevant. Our many and varied voices aren’t of any value. Our parents, teachers, advisers and even the occasional random dude on the street corner expect us to respect their views—hell, they expect us to lionize their views; to hoist every piece of ‘sage advice’ into an ivory tower and venerate it like some sort of great philosophical revelation. But how can you expect to be respected if you aren’t willing to reciprocate or concede your pride even a little?
We get it. You’ve led a harder life. You weren’t afforded the same opportunities as us. But how, exactly, is that our fault? Words cannot express how much this attitude frustrates me. I often find that adults will call a teen “rude” or “disrespectful” or “unenlightened” for expressing an ideal or opinion that differs from their own, but, ironically, it is more accurately their own incapacity for empathy and close-mindedness that comes across as arrogant. One might argue, “but we’ve earned the right to our opinions; you haven’t.” That’s all good and well; you’re entitled to your opinion. But that’s the thing about opinions. Who’s really to say? You? Think again. What you might consider the ignorant juvenilia of an arrogant generation of senseless wastes-of-space, we call “attempting to figure this shit out.”
Of course, some of the adults reading this are thinking that not all adults are dismissive of teens. I am aware of the fact. However, the same goes for teens; not all teens are “useless” and “irresponsible,” either, and it’s time more people started to recognize that. There is a contraposition to every argument.
Sure, we may not always be the most eloquent communicators, and we might have a propensity for slang that most adults can’t really even begin to understand (I don’t really understand it either), but when we do manage to effectively articulate an idea it smacks of revolution. That is what distinguishes Millenials from our elders; you draw a line, we blur it. Tradition is becoming less and less salient. We are creating a new elect and it is threatening, I understand. Perhaps the majority of us might not be wildly sophisticated, but we are continental. We are powerful and undaunted and able to deal with provocative subjects like nobody before us. With sexuality and with sadism and with religion and philosophy.
Most teenagers do not adhere to the stereotypical image you might hold of us. Sure, we aren’t perfect, and our experimental nature breeds trouble, but we are not all lazy. How can be when college admissions and occupational standards are more competitive than ever? We care about world affairs, especially the future of the world, seeing as we will be the next to inherit responsibility for it. Many of us are open and welcoming and accepting of others. In fact, we are considered by many to be the resurgents of emotional intelligence, due to our heightened capacity for empathy and uncanny ability to articulate our emotions through words or art. We can and do make change. Actually, I find that most young people want to make a difference, the problem is that many of these teens were never shown or taught how or where to even begin trying.
Perhaps most importantly, we have aspirations, both for ourselves and for the world. We hope and dream for a better future, dreams that have yet to become embittered. Isn’t that something we should be nurturing rather than suppressing? Every generation has its own way of experiencing the world, and by repudiating mine you are denying the world a chance to develop and grow past the borders you have set for it. It will be messy, entropic even; maybe the sky is too limited for what we are capable of, but there’s really only one way to find out.