In this age of teenage pregnancy, widespread drug addiction and the increasing spread of AIDS, it is difficult to pick the biggest problem facing teenagers today. It is even harder to find solutions. Yet a common denominator in most teenage problems is a lack of self respect and self discipline, along with an absence of morals and principles. We as teenagers must learn to care about ourselves and feel the responsibilities of being a part of the community before many of our teenage problems can be eradicated.
In high schools, teenagers learn facts and figures, often cramming for exams. It is rare for a teenager to dig down deep to find out who they really are. It is important that teenagers honestly evaluate themselves, finding their likes and dislikes, making note of their assets and also weaknesses. Self-respect is made easier when one really knows who one is. Once we have self-respect, respecting others is a natural transition.
Another major problem facing teenagers today is a lack of self-discipline. Whether it is through religion, athletics, or some other avenue, teens must realize that every basic desire cannot be gratified immediately. Part of being human is having the capacity to think into the future and reject basic drives because of future consequences. If a teen is accustomed to sacrificing wants for the sake of a team, or because religion demands it, it will be easier to discipline oneself in a potentially hazardous situation. That one more drink, cigarette, or hour of late night fun will be much easier to pass up if we have made a habit of controlling ourselves.
While self-respect and self-control are two important qualities, perhaps it is most important to look outside oneself to contemplate one's role. Everyone has the capacity to better the world, and we all have a stake in this. Whether through a kind word or involvement in community, we as teens should use our creativity and high energy to make a positive impact. While often stressed for time, we must not neglect our responsibility. It is our ability to show concern and compassion that distinguishes us as human.
Teenagers face many problems, and lack of self-respect and self-discipline, and sense of community are at the heart of many of them. Teenagers must be helped and help themselves to acquire these character traits that will help to end many teenage problems in the world today. ?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.