I’m always hearing that we adults don’t understand the kids today. Kids today have it so lucky compared to when we were their age but they don’t appreciate it. What’s going on with them? Why do so many young people seem off their heads? Bloody teenagers.
So the first thing is I feel UNCOMFORTABLE writing this post admitting to having spent time with teenagers. For the most part these have been 16+ (upto about 22 so this is really about this age group of “young adults” rather than teenagers). Why do I feel uncomfortable admitting this? Because as a 29 year old male, people will automatically assume that I am up to no good. What could I possibly want to hang out with young adults for?
IT MUST BE SOMETHING SINISTER!
Think again, please. If you thought this you need to know that you’re a victim of social conditioning and you need to seriously think about that.
So this has been over the course of the last year. Not the whole year, but definitely large sections of it. I’ve done the parties, I’ve done the hanging out in town and the sitting around in parks.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that the reason we don’t understand young people today is because we SEGREGATE ourselves from them because of age.
“You should hang out with people your own age” sounds good in principle but how on earth are young people going to learn from their elders if their elders don’t spend time with them.
How are young people expected to behave like adults when we distance ourselves from them and treat them like children while expecting them to be adults?
Do we have any idea, as a culture, how exceptionally ignorant it is to think that young people have nothing to teach us?
I’m only about ten years older than most of the group I’ve been spending time with. What I’ve learned is that most of these people feel disillusioned by the immediate adults in their lives and detached from the world of adulthood that we are so forcibly chucking them into.
So to the questions like: Why are young people today the way they are?
The answer is: Because we grown ups create the conditions that encourage them to be like this.
Self harm in young adults is SKYROCKETING since I was a teenager. Not only has the proportion of self-harming young people risen dramatically but the openness of which they show they self-harm has radically changed. It is COMMON and ACCEPTED. ‘In my day’ in a group of fifteen young adults maybe 3-5 would be self-harming, but then maybe only 3 would openly admit or show it. Consider what you know of today, of the young people I generally meet it seems roughly 7-8/10 are self harming in some way and openly admitting to it. It’s definitely better not to suffer in silence so I’m in some way glad they’re often so open about it (or maybe I’m just easily trusted). But it seems like a generally accepted thing now. It also seems the education around self-harm is delivered in a less than productive way, young teenagers interpreting that other young people self-harm BECAUSE it brings them feelings of relief or life. It never actually occurred to me to self-harm until someone else suggested it would help my feelings of numbness and inexplicable loss, I never did though.
Furthermore… and there is a lot to this subject and I don’t think I’ll get the order right in terms of relevance… it’s all relevant.
Some young people can deal with the intense academic expectations and can flourish their way through life. SOME PEOPLE can do this. Not all.
Think about it.
At age 11 children are heading for their SAT’s. Over the last decade there have been increasing reports across different media platforms concerning 11 year olds getting quite upset and even sometimes having panic attacks and crying due to the prssure put on them by SAT’s. Why on earth are we telling 10-11 year olds that they must do well in SAT’s in order to be successful and happy in later life?
Within 2-3 years of SAT’s we’re expecting young people to make LIFE DECISIONS! “What do you want to be when you grow up? Think carefully now! Choose the lessons that suit the career you want to go into! This will shape your life!” – SO never mind that girls are going through a plethora of physical changes, boys are getting hit like a truck by testosterone and both genders are experiencing mind boggling emotional changes and just about all of them experience identity crisis’ several times through their teenages. We also have to put all this life long pressure upon them.
Within 2 years of making this first set of life choices, we again expect them to make more. Actually by the age of 16 we are expected to know who we are and what we want to do with life. At 16 just about every person is struggling with finding their place in the world. Where they feel accepted. Guess what? It’s not with you grown ups because you’re expecting so much of them. Is it any wonder young people just want to spend time with their friends? Is your teenage child being rebellious? This is actually entirely because you failed to register their humanity and are not supporting them or nourishing them in the way they need. Maybe you feel you are and they’re rebelling anyway – you need to overcome your ego because you’re still wrong and you’re not trying the right things – “trying hard” means absolutely nothing if you’re “trying” the wrong things.
2 years later again. Young people are expected to make the choice for university or work. And the intensity of the expectations here rise almost to their peak. Nevermind that they’ve just reached what we expect as the age of “Adulthood” and “responsibility”. Nevermind that they’re still just trying to work out what the heck is going on with the world around them and where their place is. Nevermind that they’re often emotionally screwed up because WE ADULTS don’t encourage them to be whoever they want to be but do try to enforce our own expectations upon them. As a parent do you have any idea what it’s like for your kid to know you want them to be one thing but they really don’t feel that? It doesn’t matter if you’re aggressivly enforcing your expectations or passively doing it, you’re pressuring your child TOO MUCH.
When you plant a seed do you water and feed the plant and let it grow or do you sit there day after day making sure it grows in straight lines?
Another thing we adults do so terribly is assume we know it all. We’re afraid of young people seeing us fail or not understand. It seems to be some matter of pride. Isn’t the goal to teach our kids how to be stronger and wiser than us? Shouldn’t the future of humanity be BETTER than present? We pretend we know the education system and because the schools and the newspapers tell us that young people SHOULD do all these things above, we blindly support this belief because the fact of the matter is: We don’t have a clue.
The majority of people I know who directly got what they wanted out of Uni were people who didn’t go to Uni till their late 20’s or beyond, after they’d had some time to explore life as an adult and really get a feel for what they wanted in life. The majority of people I know who went to Uni at 18 years old, didn’t get what they wanted out of Uni but did have a great time drinking, drugging, hanging out with friends and a debt.
Beyond Uni, young people are then expected to be independent. That’s right! So you’ve been forced into doing all of this stuff and then you’ve got to go out in to the world on your own and be successful. Achieve satisfaction on your own. Is it any wonder why a lot of people today can’t bare the thought of being single? Independence is scary and anyone truly independent has had to struggle alone to do this. We are human beings, we are fundamentally programmed to love and be loved. Being independent is adverse to this but because we teach our young people that independence is the right thing, we find ourselves scared and alone but also hating ourselves for not being able to do the so-called “right thing”
Speaking of drink and drugs (which are one and the same so from here on when I say ‘drugs’ this INCLUDES alcohol, the legal status is a mere technicality and a sham). Drug use is going up too. Younger people are doing drugs at a higher ratio than before. I’m sure you can find some statistics about this somewhere but I rather believe that these will not be accurate but you will find it rising. Many young people who do drugs are not comfortable with admitting it to any so called grown ups. With my own past experience of drugs when I was younger and observing young people doing drugs today, I feel very secure in saying I know what the allure is here. Get ready…
The absence of the LOVE and LIFE they (and we all) need.
See when you take drugs, be it drink, ecstacy, LSD, cocaine, ketamine, etc, you get the different sense of euphoria of course, but more than that you feel GOOD. You get to feel carefree. You get to feel NICE and especially in the case of things like ecstacy, you get to feel a sensation not unlike LOVE, which can have a huge effect if you feel you’re lacking that in your life. Maybe you just don’t feel accepted in your stable world and you don’t feel good at home. But when you snort a line (or something) with your friends you get to feel GOOD, COMFORTABLE, ACCEPTED, HAPPY, UNDERSTOOD and all at the same time.
So anytime you feel like telling anyone at all to simply “not do drugs” you’re basically telling them to relinquish one of the only times in their lives where they get to feel how they actually should. The only time their instinctive emotional needs are satisfied together.
There’s one last subject on this matter that I want to approach. This is a VERY sensitive subject and I expect I’ll be getting some flack for this one because I am going against a lot of peoples beliefs here. This subject is depression and anxiety in young people.
Depression and anxiety in young people.
I’m going to write it again in case you didn’t get it the first two times.
DEPRESSION and ANXIETY in YOUNG PEOPLE.
I suffered from these when I was a young person and also through most of my adult life, I’m still working through a bit of this even today. What’s absolutely preposterous is the almost insurmountable lack of understanding of these things and young people. We have fallen in to a VERY destructive process when it comes to depression and anxiety and the people hit the worst are teenagers. So you might be a parent of a teenager or maybe you’re a teenager reading this. Suffering from depression and/or anxiety? The obvious action is to see a doctor. I already know what the diagnosis is unless you’ve got a doctor who’s got their head screwed on correctly. They told you that your “condition” is a symptom of a “chemical imbalance” in your brain. This is the DEFAULT explanation for most doctors. I’ve been through this myself and I lost count a long time ago of people who’ve been told the same.
So they tell you this and then prescribe you medication. Fluoxitine, citalopram, beater blockers, SSRI’s. Now, I’m sorry if you’re sat their reading this and you’re currently taking one/some of these or maybe your child is, because what I’m going to tell you now is going to put in to question what a medical professional has told you. Someone you should be able to trust without any doubt in your well-being, has given you uneducated information and medication that’s ultimately damaging because you don’t (and never did) need to recover from depression with medication. But you’re probably coming to depend on it, especially at your worst moments. These things are messing with the chemical balance in your brain, your feelings of depression and anxiety while perhaps inexplicable at the moment are there for real, logical reasons.
Skip back to everything I’ve written before I started writing about depression. There’s what I’m trying to explain is what is wrong with how we are treating young people (and people in general). Depression and anxiety ARE NATURAL FEELINGS that occur when we don’t feel accepted, when we don’t feel loved, when we get hurt over and over again, when we don’t feel like we have a place in the world. Self-harm and drug abuse are modern day coping strategies for these feelings. Are you on anti-depressants? Have they stopped you from being depressed forever? Or do you have to top yourself up whenever you’re hitting low/anxious moods? If they’ve combated your feelings of depression and anxiety without you having to do work on your emotions then you must have stopped taking them by now and are a full and happy person without support of any kind. Well done for you I’m glad that the medication worked! 🙂 Chances are though is you’re using them to COPE day to day which means unequivocally that you have real, logical reasons to feel depressed and until you consciously address and overcome them with your thoughts and your emotions – the medication is akin to taking drugs. I thought about beating around the bush and sugar coating this paragraph but actually it’s about time someone says it like it is. Perhaps you really do have a chemical imbalance in your brain that forces you to feel depressed, unfortunately these situations are VERY far and few between for the sheer volume of people diagnosed as such. Here’s a question and some facts for you:
Question: Did your doctor do a brain scan/test of some sort to test for an imbalance?
-If no: they’re making an assumption based on you explaining your feelings and that you don’t really know or understand why you feel like that.
-If yes: This whole bit doesn’t apply to you then. I’m sorry your body makes you feel like this.
Fact: ALL emotions can be considered “a chemical imbalance”. Yep. Happiness is a chemical balance. Adrenaline rushes are chemical imbalances. Feeling loving is a chemical imbalance.
Please, for the sake of your sanity and your long term emotional status: Search within yourself for the reasons you feel depressed and anxious and directly address them as best as you can.
The main reason why this whole mentality around depression is so very dangerous and destructive is this: If you believe your emotions are out of your control then you will feel like you are out of your control. If you are out of your control, what control of your life do you have? Any at all? Think about it.
So grown ups. I’m going to continue hanging out with young people. I’m going to learn what I can from them and I’m going to teach them what I can too. I’m going to show them that being an adult isn’t so different from being a “young adult” and I’m going to treat them with the respect, honesty and courtesy that I’d show anyone of any age.
Quite frankly when I’m in towns I much prefer the company of young adults. For the most part they haven’t quite yet resigned themselves to the lives of repetition and boredom that the rest of us seem to. I don’t know if I get the most nourishing philosophical conversations that I need for me, but they definitely get to glimpse into the truth of “growing up” when they spend time with me.
But then what do I know. I think being a “grown up” is a lie that “grown ups” made to make younger people obey. The wisest person I ever met was 21 and we only have to look at the older generations in our government to see that wisdom and age do not come hand in hand.