Change the world
THEY SAY it’s too late for change to happen.
Why? Because the youth today are lazy, too attached to their gadgets, are dropping out of school, are out of control. Or at least that’s what many adults think of them, of us. And that’s really unfair to those who don’t deserve the criticism they get just for being teenagers.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all adults are like that, and not all teenagers are good. However, I feel that there is still hope for the future of this world, and it is not just a lost cause. Teens have impacted the world in different ways, no matter how small. They are constantly seeking answers to their questions, even to the point of risking their own safety. This curiosity is sometimes misinterpreted as ignorance of the world around them. A lot of teens today face problems that their parents never had to face, like cyberbullying. Teens today look at the world from a perspective different from that of their parents, which makes it hard for adults to understand some of their problems. Of course, there are times when teens don’t want to listen to their parents, but they learn in one way or another that life would be so much harder without a guiding hand.
Then there are the stereotypes for the teenagers of this world. I’m sure you know of them: the nerds, geeks, jocks, rebels, etc. If you’ve watched “The Breakfast Club,” you’ll know that a lot of people tend to put others in sections. So, if we situate that in real life, it means that everyone has only one quality—and we all know that a person can’t be just one thing.
So why are stereotypes still alive in this world? A person can be smart and popular. He/She can be athletic and still enjoy watching sci-fi stuff. I feel that teenagers are those who are caught in the problem the most. As a teen myself, I know how easily we can be swayed by stereotypes and start a chain reaction. I have seen the effects of these, and none is beneficial for anyone.
Stereotyping teens can lead to their low self-esteem, social anxiety, and even suicide. If teens are classified as something for a long enough time, they start to act as if that classification is the only valid description of themselves. I know; I have seen it happen to others and I have experienced it myself. There is a metaphorical box, and we have to fit in that box to be considered a normal person and fit in society. Now, that is especially hard for teenagers because they’re at that point in life where they have to discover who they are, and that metaphorical box holds back so much potential. Add that to the turmoil of adolescence and you’ve got yourself a really, really common situation among teens.
What situations? Here’s the part everyone can relate to: Life is hard. No matter how well-off you are, life is hard. No matter how famous you are, life is hard. No matter how smart you are, life is hard. I can go on and on, but I think you get the point.
We teenagers are in that part of our life where we are not yet adults but are too old to be considered children. You are held responsible for your actions, and must now deal with the problems that result from those actions. When you’re a child, you are usually forgiven for any mistake made. When you’re a teen, it feels like all your mistakes will never be forgotten.
Teens face the choice of what to become in the future. It doesn’t help when they are forced to do something they do not like, especially when it will affect their entire lives. Teenage life is the time for enjoying life for what it is, but it is also the time to discover that life is not easy.
Discovering the unknown is what teenagers have done every day. Even if it’s just as simple as learning how to dance in front of an audience, or as dramatic as composing for an opera, they have improved their skills and, at times, leave accomplishments that surpass their own life. Take Mozart, for example. His works continue to be played in many opera houses around the world. Why Mozart? At 14, he wrote “Mitridate, re di Ponto,” which became a huge success. That was over 200 years ago, which goes to show that your work, your achievements, can still be popular in this world even when you’re gone. Then again, Mozart was a child prodigy.
Then there’s Anne Frank, otherwise known as the author of “The Diary of a Young Girl.” Anne started writing when she was 13. She didn’t want to be like the women of her time who went to work and then were forgotten. She wanted to make a mark in this world. And she did. Anne didn’t know her diary would ever be shown to the public, but to this day, generations have read her diary and let it change their hearts and their minds.
Need more examples? Mark Zuckerberg was 19 when he made Facebook, which was the same age Bill Gates was when he cofounded Microsoft.
I know that not all teens will make a mark like they have done, but every teen has made a mark in this world. Lots of teens get into top schools, they win national competitions, or they have an article published. Some teens become honor students, they get to be a part of their varsity team, or they save an animal from the pound. There is absolutely no limit to what a teen can do, to what we can do. I won’t be able to say that every single teen has changed the world, but I can say this: Every teen has changed a person’s life. That’s right: Even if it’s just a friend or an acquaintance, or even just a family member, a teen has changed somebody else’s life.
Oh, I almost forgot to say one thing to every adult who reads this essay. You were a teenager once, too. That’s right: I am not writing this just to raise the self-esteem of the teen who reads this. I am also trying to raise the confidence of everyone who reads this. Live your life and stop worrying about the days to come. Change the world in your own way. It may not seem much right now, but believe me, it will start the change that we have all aspired to have since the beginning.
I want you to stand up, smile, and change the world in your own way. Forget about the stereotypes, the pressure of fitting into today’s society, the fact that life is hard, and remember to weave a life that you want. Remember that there is no age limit on achieving, and while life won’t always be good, I hope that you’ll find the strength to carry on living your dreams.
Maybe it’s not too late, after all.
This is dedicated to all the graduates of the world. May you find happiness in all your endeavors.
Marie Beatrice A. Manalili, 13, is a student of St. Bridget School Quezon City.
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