#ThrowbackThursday: Stereotyping Teenagers

The following post was originally published by moi on September 12, 2012.  I felt the need to bring it to the surface again temporarily, just for a breath of fresh air, because it’s currently pretty relevant to me.  From the magical old library, I “checked out” a book on teen runners entitled Finding Their Stride.  It looks good and inspiring and motivational and all that–I’ll probably love it to bits–but I have a problem with what’s on the front jacket flap:

DSCN4071

DSCN4074Granted, it does say “improbable” rather than “impossible”, and it does say that such teenagers are “not unique”, but the fact that this teen stereotype is still so pervasive it needs to be dissuaded on the flap of a book cover irks me.  It’s just…I don’t like stereotyping anyone, I don’t think it’s at all beneficial and it really bugs me when adults discount an entire age group made up of millions of complex individuals as “slackers”, “delinquents”, etc.  So, have fun reading my rantings below!  😀  I promise I’ve got a much more “fun” post in store for tomorrow!

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My parents came home from my school orientation last week with a paper written by one of my teachers, trying to explain the changes that we’re going through as adolescents and reminding them that these years “are marked with increased independence, clearer personal opinions, greater capacity for abstract thinking, and sometimes illusions of adulthood.  Do not be fooled.”

I’m going to try to avoid the valley-girl oh mah God monologue here and not say “Like, isn’t it like soooo uncool that adults, like, think they’re like better than us?  Like OMG, right?”  Because that would be very counterproductive to my goal in this post, which would be to present myself as a mature, insightful, thoughtful, optimistic individual who most likely is a tad younger than you.  It just frustrates me when adults do this sort of thing.  Maybe it is my hormones speaking–there’s no real way for me to be sure–but right now I would like to be treated as someone, not just a teenager.  I fully understand (and appreciate!) the guidelines set for me by my parents, which include but are not limited to internet hour restrictions, allowance restrictions, what I can and cannot wear out and about, and permissions regarding electronics (Facebook accounts, cell phones, Skype, etc.).  What frustrates me is when adults talk to other adults about teenagers, trying to pretend they understand exactly how we operate.  They were teens once too, I get that; but I also believe that adolescence is a time period marked by so much strong emotion that it’s really impossible to get a clear handle on a teen’s thoughts at any given moment.  (I’ll give you a heads-up: half the time we’re not even sure what we’re thinking!)  I have difficulty believing that adults really remember every experience they had as a teenager, and I think the experiences they do remember are pretty–well, crappy, and that’s why when they hit 30 or so they like to laugh off the struggles that we’re going through with a wave of their hand as they sigh “Those teenagers.  What are you going to do with them?”  I think that they are made so uncomfortable by their memories of adolescence that as they watch teens struggle with the same exact things they went through, they like to look down on us and pretend that they were superhuman during puberty, that they just glided through it all without any of those random mood swings or strong opinions or zits or any of the unfortunate realities of this age.  Adolescence is very much the elephant in the room.  No one really likes to admit that it sometimes stinks worse than my feet after a run.  (Sorry for that visual–I just didn’t want to put anything about moldy cheese or rotten eggs in there.)

So, really, is it too much to ask of adults to just treat me like…me?  I am all too willing to admit that, yes, I am less mature than you are, I am not as skilled in the art of life, sometimes I really screw things up, and, no, I can’t “use the force” as you probably can.  I know I’m pretty dang naive when it comes to…most stuff.  But, I am not so naive that, as I type this, I’m not wondering what my reaction to this post will be twenty years down the road, when I look back at my crazy teenage rantings through the eyes of an adult.  Maybe I’ll laugh at this, and realize that my arguments were baseless, that it only gets harder as you grow and it’s only natural for adults to want to pretend they understand what’s going through teens’ heads at a time period where nothing is really certain.  If that is the case, I apologize profusely for this post, and all you skilled-in-the-way-of-life beings reading it can just ignore it. 😉  Sometimes, though…I just would like to be able to break free of the stereotypical “teenage” mold and just be The Girl in the Orange, not a slacker or a delinquent or a valley girl or goth or punk or whatever.  Just me.  That’s all I’m asking.  Please respect me for me, and remember that sometime in the not-too-distant future I’ll be out of the house and experiencing the other side of this rant.

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2 thoughts on “#ThrowbackThursday: Stereotyping Teenagers

  1. You are a pretty neat kid. You remind me a lot of myself. I’m glad you have limits and restrictions, and I hope you use all that moody teenage angst to have a few down and out, good old fashion screaming matches with your parents. Those things are important.
    * side note, the wording on the cover is awkward, it’s been a while since I’ve attended nerd school, but “A team of young runnerS raceS to the finish” feels grammatically flawed.

    • Oh, parent/TGITO disagreements do ensue…mostly over politics, however. 😀 I’m sure the day is not long off, though, when I flip my lid over something really stupid. I just hope I’m never one of those girls to throw a tantrum over not being allowed to go to the mall…
      As for the cover, I’m thinking either way could be correct: in the original wording, the subject of the sentence is “team”, rather than “runners”, so since the subject is singular “races” is the correct verb to demonstrate the subject’s action. On the other hand, if you were to use “runners” as the subject, then, yes, you would need to chop the verb to “race”.

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