Opinion Column By J1 Reporter Frannie Cihunka
Today’s culture is incredibly fast-paced. Our society has fallen into the belief that success equals happiness. It’s especially difficult for teenagers to escape this mentality, because we’re the “internet generation.” Everyone posts about their successes and activities, creating the appearance that their lives are amazing. When we see how well life is going for everyone else, we can’t help but wonder, “Am I falling behind?”
I brought this up to my mom recently. I told her how I feel like I’ve already wasted my youth. These are supposed to be the best years of my life, right? But what am I doing? I go to school everyday, then I go to extracurricular activities, then I go home and do homework, then I fall asleep. Then repeat. I told my mom, “I feel like I’m wasting my life.”
She laughed in my face.
“You’re 17 years old,” she said. “You’ve barely lived your life. You have so much of your life to go. It doesn’t matter.”
The more we talked, the more I knew my mom was right. The main point of our younger years is to go to school to be educated, so we don’t immediately die in adult life. As students, we’re supposed to do homework, find a special extracurricular, be with family and do stupid things with our friends. I think deep down we all know this is the point of our youth, but it’s so difficult to allow ourselves to focus on just that.
Today’s society glorifies the workaholic. Society says that the point of life is to work, make money and get promotions and to receive recognition and glory. Having a job you love and want to focus on is great, don’t get me wrong, but when it gets to the point where your job is above family and friends, then there’s a problem.
This “workaholic mentality” is everywhere, especially in our movies and television shows. Social media only shows you everyone else’s successes. Some girls at Marian already have businesses and side hustles, while I’ve spent the last four weekends watching Netflix. Other girls are committing to colleges, meanwhile I haven’t even taken an ACT yet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy that they’re doing so well. It still makes me wonder, “Am I behind?”
This is when we need to remember: everyone is different. One girl in your grade might be at a place where she wants to run a business and really enjoys it. Another girl might be a senior who has never had a job. Some freshmen already know what college they’re going to, and some seniors have absolutely no idea where they’re going. Social media can convince you that you’re not doing enough, but you can’t give into that mentality. You are where you are, because that’s where you need to be. If you want to push further, then go ahead. Start a blog, make a business, go on a road trip. If you want to stay where you are, stay where you are.
Our teenage years are for finding ourselves and doing what we want to do, and that looks different for everyone. We’re not supposed to have everything figured out just yet.
You’re not falling behind, and you’re not wasting your youth. You’re just living your life.