Growing Up In Today's Society Is More Difficult Than Growing Up Back Then
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Growing Up In Today's Society Is More Difficult Than Growing Up Back Then

Our parents just don't fully get it.

Growing Up In Today's Society Is More Difficult Than Growing Up Back Then
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“We were your age once, you know,” is a common statement that teenagers and young adults hear from their parents -- and sometimes on a daily basis (more often than not). This statement is very true, obviously, because everyone did grow up; I mean, that’s just simple anatomy. However, this statement also irks me, and here’s why:

As much as adults may disagree and naturally argue this point, I strongly believe that growing up in today’s world is much more challenging than it was for past generations. Social pressures are more powerful, competition is much greater, technology is skyrocketing and everything said or done can be made public in the span of 5 seconds. Violence and danger are also more prevalent, and it seems as if numbers define a child more so than their actual abilities. Young adults, teenagers, even children, are being faced with greater struggles than any of our parents ever went through.

Social pressures these days are everywhere, and children at younger ages are being exposed to them. Everyone is growing up so much quicker, and children’s innocence is being swiped away at a much younger age than necessary. The topic of discussion at a middle school table is all about drugs, alcohol, and sex. Since when has that become OK? The pressure follows teens everywhere they go, from social gatherings to behind closed doors on the internet. Unfortunately, we have social media to thank for that one. Sure, our parents were also worried about fitting in and doing the “cool thing”, but the peer pressure they faced was not even close to the immense pressure teenagers feel today.

Instead of running around outside and playing manhunt, young teens are in someone’s basement drinking alcohol. Middle schoolers are vaping instead of riding somewhere and getting ice cream. Going on a movie date for the first time creates the question of, “Is he going to kiss me the whole time?” instead of, “Should I ask for popcorn?” Kids are growing up too fast, and in today’s society, being rebellious and doing “bad” things are becoming the new norm. Kids get tormented for going against the gradient, so they roll with the flow.

Social media has also caused chaos -- a whole new element of drama that adults didn’t have to grow up dealing with. Everything one says or does is immediately posted, or saved onto someone’s camera roll, and usually never gets deleted. Adults can whine to us about how everything is "the same as it was in the past," and how it just has to do with perspective.

But that is in fact not true. Social media itself is causing greater social pressures and greater risks. With social media, nothing is private. Growing up today means you grow up in a spotlight, and that comes with great responsibility. You have to constantly be aware of what you are doing, what you are saying, and who you are associating with. Because if you mess up or are with the wrong crowd, even for 10 minutes, that may backfire quicker than you can say the word backfire.

Similarly, social media goes hand in hand with giving today’s teens false images of “perfection” and what is “expected” vs. what is “weird.” Today’s society is obsessed with what makes someone fat or ugly. Models wearing a size 4 are considered overweight, and celebrities walking down the street without makeup on are attacked by being called “sickly.” Social media’s role in this is to make sure these stories and images get shown everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

Today’s world is so focused on appearance that many young people growing up are brainwashed and manipulated into thinking that they are not pretty enough, not desirable and not wanted. This then leads to more cases of depression, and higher suicide rates. I am not stating that this did not occur back then because I know it did. Depression and the natural instinct to not like yourself (or things about yourself) is inevitable.

However, in today’s society and with social media crawling at you in every direction, the urgency to be perfect is a much bigger problem now than it was before. There is such an unachievable standard that this society has created for my generation, and all teens seem to fall into its depths to at least some extent.

Switching topics, the competition is also greater. Everything is way more difficult than it needs to be, especially the entire process for applying to colleges. You cannot get into your dream school without having a 4.0 GPA, being a varsity athlete for four years, being the president in three clubs, doing 100 hours of community service and having two jobs.

Being involved is great, yes, but I do not think that the requirements to get into certain schools should be the way they are. I understand there is a high demand and requirements need to be put into place, but I think this should be done in a more efficient way. High schoolers are constantly thinking about ways to fill up their resume and what they can do to make themselves better than the person sitting next to them.

The. Pressure. Never. Ends.

Got a C on a test? That’s unheard of. Try again. Only have a 3.4 GPA? Sorry, you must get all A’s next semester to even stand a chance. The academic pressure is exceeding what it has ever been before, and it takes a toll on students' happiness and freedom to just be a teen and enjoy life! Even after college, it never ends. The competition to get into grad school, or to land that big internship, is so great that it begins to be the only thing on a young adult’s brain. Our generation needs to learn to relax, breathe, and have some hope that everything will fall into place.

Numbers have slowly taken over. Whether it be a simple test grade, a GPA, an ACT score or something as silly as how many followers you have on Instagram and how many comments you get on a post. Your abilities are defined by your ACT scores, because “you are only as smart as your test score shows” (obviously not true, but that’s how it feels).

Your popularity is defined by how many likes you get on a picture, and if you get a lot, you’re obviously better than Sally who only got 5 (again, NOT true). But you see, we are surrounded by these numbers, and the pressure we face stems from those. It has turned into a life or death situation, and that is not healthy. This is also where social media comes in, again. You know every achievement and every award that someone has ever been granted. People growing up today are so focused on being better than the person beside them, and bragging to all their peers about how successful and amazing they are. Life for today’s teens is one giant competition, and it seems to be never ending.

Danger and violence are also spiraling out of control, and the political stuff around us. Yes, politics have always been a thing, and so has violence, but it is baffling how much of an effect those are having today. It seems we are moving backward, not forward.

Teens have to fear going to the movie theater these days or walking home from the pool at night. You have to get patted down to enter a food festival, and you can’t wear long necklaces at schools because they are considered “weapons.” What is happening here? Every night on the news you hear about a new shooting, or a new person getting arrested on your street; it is truly never ending, and it certainly does not seem to be getting any better.

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes adults really don’t fully get it. I know they understand similar aspects and have empathy for certain scenarios that we go through, but they will never actually understand what it feels like to grow up now. It really is so different, whether they want to believe it or not. Everyone encounters struggles and challenges, but today it is especially difficult because there is always someone else to please, someone else to compete with and another higher expectation to be met. Nothing nowadays is simple, or easy.

Life is not easy, and I get that, but today’s youth is growing up with issues and pressures that are greater than they’ve ever been. We are constantly having to watch our back, be aware of who is watching us and potentially recording us, wear the best outfit to the concert and get the very best grades to stand a chance in today’s competitive world. Numbers are becoming more important than skills, and teenagers are constantly striving for an unachievable goal of perfection. Sometimes I wish I could rewind time and grow up in the time my parents did, or at least wish that the adults in our lives would somehow understand the great pressure and challenges we are all being consumed by.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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