The Truth of the “Terrible” Teens

By Samuel Phelps.

Drug abuse, smoking, drinking, cell phone overuse, premarital sex, and many other negative topics are often associated with teenagers. The world’s view of teenagers has been consistently scornful and demeaning. The expectation to be beneficial contributors to society has faded away only to be replaced with the expectation of being hindrances to society. Unfortunately, human beings will naturally rise or fall according to the predictions that are placed before them. But what are the specific reasons for why  most people between the ages of 13 and 19 choose to follow the same path as their predecessors?

The term “teenagers” was  first created in a Reader’s Digest magazine in 1941. Before then, there was no buffer age group that allowed people to have a few years in which they could act childlike while given adult privileges. A child would automatically enter the adult world once they entered the age of 12-14, depending on their culture. At that point in their life, they were given both the privileges and the responsibilities that came with becoming an adult. For example, as two teenagers stated in the book Do Hard Things, a boy name David started as a Naval Cadet and saw his first battle at the age of 11. His father controlled the main ship, but once David turned twelve and his father captured a British ship, David was given the opportunity to control the newly captured ship and run it as the main captain. The crew obeyed his every wish and respected him to the point of protecting him when the captured British captain became annoyed with being forced to obey a young man and threatened to take his life. Because of David’s maturity in accepting the adult privileges and responsibilities, he could control the ship with the same authority and respect that an older adult would hold. Countless other people, as they came of age, rose to the expectations and rapidly increased their maturity levels to become an adult.


At Heritage Academy, the faculty provide an excellent example of raising the bar for teens. They require much more effort and provide many academic challenges that most other schools won’t even consider. They have developed an environment for students to excel not only in their academic endeavors, but also in their community pursuits. Heritage’s creed states that they are bound to create the type of citizens that will raise the bar to achieve what the world does not think they can. This school will create the type of adults that will change the world for the better.


However, even though there are a few respected adults that will encourage us to raise the expectations the world has held for us for decades, it is not enough. We teenagers need to prove to the world that we can crawl out of the mud and fly towards the stars. If we will change our habits and strive towards higher accomplishments, we will become the kind of teenagers that are sorely needed in the world today. Dre Grossen, for example, achieved his Associates Degree near the same time he graduated high school. This was never before accomplished in Heritage’s history, but once he raised the bar, many followed. A few years later, there were a handful of students that accomplished the same goal as they graduated. It’s not that it wasn’t impossible or much harder before Dre did it, it was simply that people didn’t think they could do it because it was not done before.


We need not to wait for someone else to raise the bar, but instead we can choose to raise it ourselves. It is not as hard as it may seem; we just need to try. Nowadays, many people carry the fear of failure and embarrassment. That fear will only corrode your potential to do something amazing because to really surpass the expectations of the world, you will need to take risks and stand out .


We all need to stand up and rise above the normal, negative stereotypes of the world and prove  that we are a new generation of teenagers: one that will not be phased by the examples in our lives that will encourage us to become the muck of the world. One who will show everyone that teenagers can hold all the responsibilities of adults. One who will stand tall in the face of those with doubts. And one who will ignore the chance of failure to prove that we can and will change the world for the better.

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