What matters? Questioning authority. Individualism. The courage to suffer because it’s not only a part of growing up and learning, but also because it’s for the greater good.
The downside of the world is that everybody is telling us what to do. This is what’s wrong with the world and this is how to fix it. Just relax, we’re handing you your world on a silver platter and if you destroy it, don’t blame us. The downside of being a scientist is that you spend your life trying to save the world from the inevitable. The tragedy of being an artist is that you spend your life trying to escape the inevitable. Recycle your lightbulbs because otherwise you’re drenching your home with mercury and begging for mutation. Quit smoking because it can cause blockage in your lungs (see also: cancer). Stop buying things made in China because they’re going to pass us in economic efficiency. Think about it.
Who said that you had to conform to earn your place in the world? We are society. We made these rules and we can change them. Being an individual is the second bravest and/or most ignorant thing you can do, the first being having faith in anything. Where would your fashion magazines and soap-opera stars be if we functioned solely on mitosis? Look the same, act the same, perfect people. We’re headed there. Is it sad when a large portion of the girls in our country are masters of addition and subtraction because of calorie counting?
Fed on strict diets of image with daily doses of inferiority complexes, our youth is convinced that this is what we should be. We need to be a mirage or nobody will love us. Think about it.
This is a plastic world of Photoshopped false idols and pain relievers. The world has a blurry edge to it. We focus so hard on relieving every prick of pain that we don’t see how we’re stifling growth. Pain has sparked almost all great things (songs, books, movements, speeches, paintings, ideas). People want to change the world because they see pain and suffering. Our sheltered, pill-popping children see none of this. And if they do catch a glimpse, they feel so disconnected that it doesn’t hit home. Apples for breakfast and neurotoxins for lunch. To live a real life, a meaningful life, don’t you need to experience pain? Emotional and physical pain teach us lessons and give us a powerful tool with which to take on the world.
We live in a society where we don’t take risks, and attainable risks have been shut down long ago, leaving our experience-deprived teenagers stuck with a list of adrenaline rushes ranging from slightly potent to six feet under. If it’s fun, it’s either illegal, dangerous or a little of both. Give it a few years and that flu virus you’re safeguarded against has mutated to the point where it’s a completely new flu, and the bacteria that would have killed it has been wiped out, thanks to the anti-bacterial soap in every dispenser in every public bathroom in every state.
We are the next generation and we are the future. Let’s stop attempting to solve all the world’s problems at once and focus on why so many teenagers are depressed and taking the easy way out. I want to live before living is too lethal to attempt. I want to try things and enjoy things and feel things even if there is a one in 700 chance that I might develop brain cancer. We’re so afraid of suffering and pain that we medicate and medicate and medicate the pain away. We have to suffer to create something truly beautiful. Who wants to live in a bland world? Think about it.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.