The Not So Golden Years

November 21, 2007
By
Here I am again, strolling innocently through my favorite store with a group of friends looking for the perfect ensemble. As we travel through the store, keeping our eyes peeled for sale signs, we get a strange feeling. We look around to see if anything seems abnormal and we feel like we are being followed. Normally, this situation would be scary for a group of teenage girls out on a Friday night, but we know exactly why someone would follow us. Confirming our assumption, a salesperson with a fake smile pops up from behind the hoodies and says, “Is there anything that I can help you find?” Of course, the salesperson does not intend to help us find anything, but instead wants to hurry us out of the store because she believes that, since we are teenagers, we will probably steal something.

Although it may seem as if the salesperson had good intentions, she cornered us because of our dress, our age, our conversation. We are teenagers. Rather than viewing us as the future leaders of the nation, we are seen as the delinquents of today. Many adults have given the ever famous “there is no such thing as a good teenager” speech and have condemned the behavior of every teen they see. One look at a group of teens can send shivers down an adult’s spine, causing them to shield their younger children from corruption. What is that corruption, though?

Rather than looking at our personalities, or intelligence, or talents, many adults tend to focus on our clothes and our conversations. Many adults do not look at the person wearing the clothes, but only look at the baggy pants or colored hair. They view these things as signs of delinquency and vandalism. If they would stop to consider the person in the clothes, they might just find a brilliant mind or a creative artist just waiting for their personal style to be taken seriously. An adult hears loud music coming from a car and, instead of remembering the times when they would listen to music with their friends, they complain and judge those teenagers as no good. Adults also tend to judge us by our conversations. What adult does not love to eavesdrop on the exciting stories told by teenagers? The only problem with this is that the adults do not innocently eavesdrop. These adults take what they hear completely out of context and think the worst of the groups that they encounter. With all of this negative energy, the world cannot help but view every teenager in this way.

What the judgmental adults do not realize is that there are many competent, talented, smart teenagers out there. These are the young men and women who do not give into the temptations that give other teens a bad reputation. Contrary to popular belief, these teenagers can be trusted with the future of society. The only problem with successfully stepping up to challenge lies in the judgments that adults make about us. One Sunday during Mass, a guest speaker came to talk during the homily and inform the congregation about the CCD program offered at our church. During this particular Mass, my family and I were sitting in the front pew. As I listened, I heard the speaker tell everyone about how the younger parishioners had stopped coming to church. What this person obviously missed was the fact that there was an abundance of teenagers in the congregation. Instead of noticing the people that did come, he assumed that all of the teenagers that belonged to the parish just slept in every week. All teenagers tend to be categorized under the same negative stereotype that does not fit the personalities of all teens.

As teenagers, we need to learn how to break the stereotypes. We need to define ourselves as individuals and show the world that we can become the leaders of tomorrow. We need to work and make sure that we are prepared for the future. We need to prove to everyone that we are not the delinquents and vandals that they say we are. If they can learn to see beyond the uniqueness of our clothing and style and look past some of our different choices in music and conversation, then we may have a fighting chance at regaining our good name and our right to lead the next generation.





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