We’ve all had that awkward stage, right when we hit puberty when we’re just figuring things out as an entirely new world opens up.
It’s not easy. Everyone on the face of this planet can tell you that much. But if you pay attention to those who are right smack dab in the middle of it, you’ll notice they’re a bit out of whack, floating almost.
It’s cliché to compare their situation to ours when we were growing up, but when you take a closer look you can see the pressures and standards have been steadily building for youth that age and that we simply weren’t that conscious or even cared as much about appearances as they do. These days we joke that we never had that sense of style or mindfulness during those years.
We put the present generation on a pedestal of maturity that goes beyond their years without even having a second thought of just how lost they might be. Considering the amount of media exposure these kids are getting, there’s no doubt they’ve perfected the art of emulating what they see. There are bars that are set, upkeep to be done, and on top of that a persona to be broadcasted to not only their online following but their real-life friends and peers, too. Taking a step back, it’s obviously exhausting.
A huge population of young people do not know anything but the front they’ve been led to put on. They struggle to express themselves and find creative outlets. They’re stuck in a technological world full of curated profiles that only show the “exciting” and “perfect” highlights of someone’s life.
So, once again, where does that leave them standing? How do we as mentors, examples and role models guide them to success?
If there’s anywhere to start we should try empathizing for them. We don’t have to assume their brains are being poisoned by social media and that there’s no hope for them, but instead, we might want to think about changing our system of “everyone’s the same” and sweeping feelings under the rug, and start teaching freedom of expression.
If everyone had the chance to break the mould then maybe the road to finding yourself wouldn’t be so long and rough.
Macy How is a grade 11 student at Brooks Secondary School in Powell River.