I'm a teenager, so I can safely say that I know what it feels like to be one in society today.
Frankly, it's not easy. No matter what people have said about teenagers today being "lazy," "whiny," or even "unintelligent," it's just not true. That pressure itself just from the harsh comments we receive every day adds onto the stress we have from our responsibilities, and we've become more outspoken about the unfairness of how we've been treated as inferior.
Teenagers have held protests, tried talking to elder generations in their communities, and raised awareness online about the gap in communication between our age group and others. We've stretched ourselves far and wide to speak up about how we are working our hardest to make the people who scold us happy. Alongside the countless tasks we run through every day — from school to part-time jobs, it just doesn't seem to be enough that we want others to know we struggle to cope with everyone's expectations.
Mental health has been a taboo for so long, but we've worked to break down barriers around this. Now, we openly talk with our friends about seeing therapists and combatting negative perspectives about us in the media. We've removed the stigma around a concept that can make our elders uncomfortable. It's second nature to us now to reach out to others in times of need, especially regarding mental health.
But how are people helping teenagers in return? Have we seen an improvement in the response we receive from others?
I've heard adults call social anxiety "an excuse to avoid spending time with others." I've seen people in the background laugh when someone opens up about the mental illnesses they've conquered. I've heard people commend "13 Reasons Why" not for raising awareness about social issues but for having attractive lead characters.
This is what I need to know: Does mental health really matter to people if it doesn't relate to them? How can we make it matter? How do we take what we know and create change?
Perhaps we take up a selfish perspective about internal battles we can't see. Maybe if it's difficult to relate to how someone's feeling, we feel less inclined to donate our time helping him or her.
But none of this makes it acceptable to brush over the fact that teenagers today do not receive the help they deserve.
We could be a more productive society if our younger generations were treated with a willingness for them to blossom. To the person who thinks teenagers complain too much about the work they receive, maybe asking how one can be supportive will allow teenagers to truly explain what pesters them. Even as growing young adults, we teens still are quite resilient for our age. So if something is bugging us, it is not a mere annoyance.
People look down on us as if we have no idea what we're doing. As if we're just walking scarecrows looking for the next empty seat to sit in and whine, not caring if the weight of the world pushes us down. We've become scraped down into an exaggerated analogy of lazy good-for-nothings that are destined for failure, and us speaking about this inaccuracy is apparently another problem within itself because "we cry about everything."
At this point, it's as if we cannot be given a chance to say how we feel.
We hear about all this discomfort around children feeling such immense mental strain that shouldn't be exposed to them already, but there is no action being taken against it. So what are we left to do now? Only doing what we feel is important (rather than everything given to us) would make us "lazy." Speaking up about our issues would make us "whiny." Feeling unmotivated due to endless streams of work is only because we're "unintelligent."
So we're left to do what is expected of us: sit down and stay quiet.