Teenage life reality overwhelms
March 7, 2023
by A.C. Ahrendt, reporter
The reality of being a teenager is extreme, in all ways, because teenagers are insanely hormonal. No matter what we feel or think it will usually be 100 times as dramatic as needed.
As a pretty self-aware and observant person, for better or worse, I feel that being a teenager is a lot like having an egg constantly balancing on your head.
For example: When my mom says, “How was your day?” I can suddenly be completely distraught: “Fine, FINE! Mom!” …as though I can’t believe she doesn’t always understand how I’m feeling and whether I am in the mood to talk. But then in a moment, when my dad is sitting downstairs, working peacefully, I shift in a flash, feel friendly and approach, “Dad, what do you think about this (mystery of life)?”
To all parents out there, I we’re sorry for the inconsistency and unintended manipulation or abuse. No matter how perfect a parent tries to be, their kids are probably going to need to go to therapy about something!
Another reality of being a teenager is that we can’t function without devices. Yes, yes, we often use them as an immediate dopamine-release, but sometimes it is almost impossible to have a social life- what today’s civilization considers a social life- without having Snapchat or Instagram or at least texting to coordinate.
Personally, I miss face to face conversations and see more value in them because there is much less time to weigh what I am going to say and how it will make people think of me.
This issue leads me to another frustration: I feel it is so common for adolescents to go about their lives trying to make themselves the best and only see themselves as something to improve and grow and advance. Yes, this is our life, so we should live it and explore ourselves, but we are on a planet with billions of other people, literally. We should all be less self-absorbed and spread more joy to others, as cliché as that sounds.
Quite often, when having a conversation with a mentor, peer or really anybody, I find myself looking for all of the ways to improve the other person’s view of me when I should be trying to lift them up and just be real.
I see the fact that we are each one of billions overwhelming, depleting, and exuberating, all at the same time. As a teenager, I am constantly comparing myself to others, constantly, and that’s exhausting. I’m exhausted because of the pressure I put on myself to be the best. But guess what, someone will be better than me at something, and this is important: someone will always be better than me at something, but I can always be the best of myself. Comparing myself to others positively and negatively both forms an insubstantial and inauthentic state of being. People aren’t just apples and oranges, we are apples and hotdogs and spaghetti, which are all fabulous, just for different reasons. Life is hard enough without constantly trying to be better than others.
Another thing: we often speak in a different language, mostly thanks to Tiktok. This is cool because we are like our own ethnicity and can send secret codes with inside jokes and short phrases coined on social media, but this can be frustrating if you’re not up to date on the trends. I’m almost never up to date.
Every now and then, I will hear a conversation with sayings and words like “slay,” “bussin,” “cappin,” “hits different,” “flex,” “outta pocket,” “ick” and so much more. Honestly, I really question my generation’s social skills. I can’t imagine us being the leaders in 30 to 40 years.
And things just aren’t fair sometimes. I have given a lot of thought to the statement, “That’s not fair,” and all I can come up with is: nothing really is fair any of the time. How come some beings are born into extreme poverty or chaos and others into the Hamptons? But here’s the thing, even if you live on top of the world, you have problems. We all have problems: some internal and some external, some mental and some physical. Sometimes I feel like the world is falling and other times I feel like I’m the smartest, coolest being and will save the world. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
One of the hardest but most valuable lessons I am learning is that we can’t waste our
time trying to make the best life of what society thinks is best. Instead, we can take peace in simply exploring what feels best and most meaningful.
I will catch myself walking through life as though I have to change myself, but no matter how hard we try there will always be people who don’t like us. That is okay, because there are some people I do not choose to spend time with either.
Some things are like a dishwasher: you load the dirty dishes and they come out clean. Other things are like cleaning a car: you’re cleaning outside in the elements, and the car is simultaneously absorbing dirt while you’re cleaning it. Also, like my previous teacher says, “Sometimes it just be like dat.”
My advice to anyone struggling is not to judge your struggles or label them but to feel it and simply move on, even though it is not so simple sometimes. Moving on for me includes feeling guilty, disciplined, encouraged, defeated, and just ready for something to change. Moving on isn’t linear or comparable to others.
This is the human experience. That’s cool. It’s also painful, beautiful, overwhelming, exhilarating, exhausting, and all of the “ing’s.” We don’t need to live in the “I should be’s.”