The Best Years of Your Life

The Best Years of Your Life?

We live in world filled with people. Lots of people. People with individuality. We are all different, yet the same. Everyone tries to be unique (especially young people) yet nobody is truly themselves. Everybody from parents to lawyers and teachers to doctors are debating over this topic. Each and every person has an opinion yet nobody can reach agreement. Are teenage years really the best years of your life? Teenage years are supposed to be the most important stages in ‘finding yourself’. Yet we all talk like one another, listen to the same bands, watch the same shows and wear the same clothes. This is due to one thing. Pressure. Pressure to be yourself but not to stand out. Pressure to get good grades but to also be cool, to do alcohol and drugs. The pressure to grow up but not too fast. The pressure to be liked, to be happy in yourself, to have goals, to be fun. In short, these are the destructive pressures of being a teenager.

The immense pressure that comes with being a teenager has detrimental effects on adolescent mental health. Over 75% of young people who have a mental health illness are not seeking treatment as it’s something which is swept under the carpet, people are too afraid to speak out about it because they believe it is seen as a weakness. This is proven by David Cameron being the first EVER Prime Minister to address mental health. He himself admits “We’ve not done enough to end the stigma of mental health”. The Prime Minister is somebody who is meant to lead us, symbolize us, represent us. Yet how are they portraying us truthfully when 1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health problems each year and no past Prime Minister has even mentioned it? He saw this huge issue could no longer be unspoken of and in January 2016 he personally introduced new money to address one of our nation’s fastest growing problems, that is, teenage mental health. Before Mr. Cameron granted the new budget at the beginning of 2016, a miniscule 0.6% of the NHS’s whole budget, was put towards child and adolescent mental health services. That’s a single teardrop in a stadium full of helpless, weeping teens. How on this earth can that be enough money to solve this colossal issue when the rates of anxiety and depression amongst teenagers has increased by 70% in the last 25 years? Mental health in young people in a severe problem and we as a nation need to step up and face it. It can no longer be dismissed, something must be done to put an end to this ever-growing problem.

The pressures are magnified at schools, through parent’s expectations, criticism by peers and self-judgment, the building becomes a prison. As a teenager you are in a bubble, school seems like it will go on forever and that your grades are all that matter. When in reality your independent life only just begins when you leave school. For many teenagers, exams are their biggest worry with 59% saying that they felt pressure from their parents to do well. This then results in them skipping meals, having sleep issues and turning to coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Staggeringly, over half of students have missed meals due to exam stress. School years can be an extremely demanding time for teens. It is a whirlwind of discovering yourself, trying to fit in, making friends, finding your style, exploring your sexuality and feeling part of something. The school environment can be an extremely judgmental place, sniggers and sly comments are a daily occurrence. Youngsters, specifically girls are susceptible to this, with 1 in 4 girls saying they had been verbally attacked by another female on multiple occasions in an educational environment. With females in school there is a social hierarchy and girls attempt to clamber to the top of the mountain which contains rumors, gossiping, and exclusion. The end goal for these insecure teenagers is to damage the victim’s reputation, to isolate them. As ‘relational bullying’ is more problematic to spot than the classic locker room physical bullying it often goes unanswered. When female bullying occurs, a mammoth 85% of the time there is no intervention, no wonder millions of young girls are suffering in silence. They are too petrified to speak up and nobody is brave enough to speak out.

Arguably, social media is the latest and most prevalent phenomenon that piles pressure on youngsters. We teens sit for hours on our phones, scrolling, clicking and typing. Subconsciously we are painting a perfect life in our heads. A perfect, unrealistic life. We see models with ‘flawless’ figures, actors with the newest cars and artists living in the biggest houses. This drives us teenagers to believe we have to be just like them – people suffer because they think they are not good enough. This leads to youngsters having extremely low self-esteem, and having body image issues. Concerningly, this is a growing issue as in the past 3 years, hospital admissions for teenagers with eating disorders have almost doubled. This demolition of individuality is created by adolescents feeling impelled to change, to reshape themselves to conform to society. Teens are at war with themselves and as a country we should be there to fight this battle alongside them.

To conclude, we live in a very scathing society. But it doesn’t have to be. If everyone just accepted how others are, the world would be a much happier place. We shouldn’t have to conform to what our peers want us to be like. We should be loved for who we are. Nobody should have to be something they are not, because they are scared to show their true self, fearing they won’t be accepted. Feeling alone, isolated, unwanted is a terrible thing, but feeling trapped, like you can’t express yourself? That is something unimaginable. There are young people out there with vibrant and quirky minds but who are too afraid to show it. People too embarrassed to step out of normality and try something different, to try something crazy. On their own, they suffer in silence. Surely this must end. Pressure can no longer take control of us. So, I say, ‘you do you’. Dress how you like. Act however you want and as long as you are truthful to yourself then who cares?

Word Count : 1,070

The Best Years of Your Life?

We live in world filled with people. Lots of people. People with individuality. We are all different, yet the same. Everyone tries to be unique (especially young people) yet nobody is truly themselves. Everybody from parents to lawyers and teachers to doctors are debating over this topic. Each and every person has an opinion yet nobody can reach agreement. Are teenage years really the best years of your life? Teenage years are supposed to be the most important stages in ‘finding yourself’. Yet we all talk like one another, listen to the same bands, watch the same shows and wear the same clothes. This is due to one thing. Pressure. Pressure to be yourself but not to stand out. Pressure to get good grades but to also be cool, to do alcohol and drugs. The pressure to grow up but not too fast. The pressure to be liked, to be happy in yourself, to have goals, to be fun. In short, these are the destructive pressures of being a teenager.

The immense pressure that comes with being a teenager has detrimental effects on adolescent mental health. Over 75% of young people who have a mental health illness are not seeking treatment as it’s something which is swept under the carpet, people are too afraid to speak out about it because they believe it is seen as a weakness. This is proven by David Cameron being the first EVER Prime Minister to address mental health. He himself admits “We’ve not done enough to end the stigma of mental health”. The Prime Minister is somebody who is meant to lead us, symbolize us, represent us. Yet how are they portraying us truthfully when 1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health problems each year and no past Prime Minister has even mentioned it? He saw this huge issue could no longer be unspoken of and in January 2016 he personally introduced new money to address one of our nation’s fastest growing problems, that is, teenage mental health. Before Mr. Cameron granted the new budget at the beginning of 2016, a miniscule 0.6% of the NHS’s whole budget, was put towards child and adolescent mental health services. That’s a single teardrop in a stadium full of helpless, weeping teens. How on this earth can that be enough money to solve this colossal issue when the rates of anxiety and depression amongst teenagers has increased by 70% in the last 25 years? Mental health in young people in a severe problem and we as a nation need to step up and face it. It can no longer be dismissed, something must be done to put an end to this ever-growing problem.

The pressures are magnified at schools, through parent’s expectations, criticism by peers and self-judgment, the building becomes a prison. As a teenager you are in a bubble, school seems like it will go on forever and that your grades are all that matter. When in reality your independent life only just begins when you leave school. For many teenagers, exams are their biggest worry with 59% saying that they felt pressure from their parents to do well. This then results in them skipping meals, having sleep issues and turning to coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Staggeringly, over half of students have missed meals due to exam stress. School years can be an extremely demanding time for teens. It is a whirlwind of discovering yourself, trying to fit in, making friends, finding your style, exploring your sexuality and feeling part of something. The school environment can be an extremely judgmental place, sniggers and sly comments are a daily occurrence. Youngsters, specifically girls are susceptible to this, with 1 in 4 girls saying they had been verbally attacked by another female on multiple occasions in an educational environment. With females in school there is a social hierarchy and girls attempt to clamber to the top of the mountain which contains rumors, gossiping, and exclusion. The end goal for these insecure teenagers is to damage the victim’s reputation, to isolate them. As ‘relational bullying’ is more problematic to spot than the classic locker room physical bullying it often goes unanswered. When female bullying occurs, a mammoth 85% of the time there is no intervention, no wonder millions of young girls are suffering in silence. They are too petrified to speak up and nobody is brave enough to speak out.

Arguably, social media is the latest and most prevalent phenomenon that piles pressure on youngsters. We teens sit for hours on our phones, scrolling, clicking and typing. Subconsciously we are painting a perfect life in our heads. A perfect, unrealistic life. We see models with ‘flawless’ figures, actors with the newest cars and artists living in the biggest houses. This drives us teenagers to believe we have to be just like them – people suffer because they think they are not good enough. This leads to youngsters having extremely low self-esteem, and having body image issues. Concerningly, this is a growing issue as in the past 3 years, hospital admissions for teenagers with eating disorders have almost doubled. This demolition of individuality is created by adolescents feeling impelled to change, to reshape themselves to conform to society. Teens are at war with themselves and as a country we should be there to fight this battle alongside them.

To conclude, we live in a very scathing society. But it doesn’t have to be. If everyone just accepted how others are, the world would be a much happier place. We shouldn’t have to conform to what our peers want us to be like. We should be loved for who we are. Nobody should have to be something they are not, because they are scared to show their true self, fearing they won’t be accepted. Feeling alone, isolated, unwanted is a terrible thing, but feeling trapped, like you can’t express yourself? That is something unimaginable. There are young people out there with vibrant and quirky minds but who are too afraid to show it. People too embarrassed to step out of normality and try something different, to try something crazy. On their own, they suffer in silence. Surely this must end. Pressure can no longer take control of us. So, I say, ‘you do you’. Dress how you like. Act however you want and as long as you are truthful to yourself then who cares?

Word Count : 1,070