Being a teenager is weird, complicated, but also beautiful in a messy way. It’s a time of self-discovery, cringy mistakes, and wonderful revelations. Every person navigates through it at their own pace, but some outdated myths about teenagers might bias one’s experience.
If you are young, disorientated, and trying to figure things out, this article might be useful to you. I made a list of common misconceptions I had encountered during my teen years, and I explained why they lack truth. You might be familiar with some of these myths about teenagers, while others might be new to you. Let’s start with the one that frequently depicted in the early 2000s movies.
1. ‘I’m not like the others!’
Often used with a derogatory meaning, this idea reflects the speaker’s perceived superiority as opposed to others from the same category. For example, girls interested in books and art despise the girls who liked make-up and such because they saw them as shallow and vice-versa. This tropeencourages teenagers to perpetuate these types of myths about teenagers instead of developing healthy relationships with their school mates.
But you know what’s really shallow? Assessing an individual’s worth based on one visible trait.
Yes, you are different from your peers due to a combination of upbringing, personality, skills, dreams, values, and so on. Different doesn’t mean less than or more than; it means not as. You are unique and deserve respect as much as you must respect other’s individuality.
Another thing you have to bear in mind is the fact that you do have one thing in common with the rest of the teenagers. You are all in a quest to discover your true selves by experimenting and learning. The means might be different, but you all have the same purpose. So, the next time you catch yourself thinking in stereotypes, remember that you wouldn’t like anybody to label you either!
2. ‘This is the best/the worst time of my life.’
As a result of emotional investment or peer influence, teenagers tend to use superlative terms when describing their experiences, therefore exaggerating them a bit.
I’m not naming you a drama queen, but my point is that you should refrain from thinking in extremes. After all, your entire life is ahead of you. Your teenage years might be better or worse than you imagined, but you can’t possibly know how your adult life will be. But before labeling your teenage years, allow yourself to live through them first. Some events will turn out to be formative, others – not so much. Even so, they will be part of you, and you should accept them as such.
3. ‘I have to figure everything out by the time I’m … years old.’
By the time they finish high school, many teenagers feel pressured to know what field they will study or work in, what city they will move to, and how many pets and/or kids they will have.
While it’s good to make your own decisions responsibly, there isn’t a due date for any of them. 16-year-old you can’t possibly know what 20-year-old you will be interested in. You can’t foresee how your life will be next year, let alone plan everything out for the next decades.
Your main goal should be to develop your skills and life-values, gain knowledge in relevant fields, and only then think about how you can build a career out of them. You can speak with a trusted adult or a career counselor if you need guidance – but even then you can change your mind. The only thing you have to figure out is what benefits you both physically and mentally.
4. ‘It’s going to be wild!’
We all heard stories of older friends who ran away from home, started drinking, or other risky things. We wanted to grow up and try them too, but those anecdotes turned out to be just a bunch of myths about teenagers.
A lot of physical, emotional, and social changes happen during your teenage years, so yes, things can go a bit off the rails now and then. You become more curious, you make the first steps towards independence, and you are more aware of your feelings. This cocktail of novelties can lead to all kinds of experiences: from joining a sports team to partying with new friends every weekend or exploring your creative side in a quiet place.
Every teenager deals with the inherent identity crisis in their own way. Instead of living your high-school years according to a trivial recipe, you should focus on what feels right to you. Remember, you are free to experiment with almost everything as long as you don’t hurt yourself or others during the process. Even if you end up doing things you won’t be proud of later, it’s important to learn something from it.
While there might be more myths about teenagers, those are the ones I have dealt with. Thinking back on them has been fun for me and helpful – I hope – for you. Despite their chaotic course, your teenage years are unique, so you should make the best out of it.