When I was younger, I always thought my parents knew everything and were never wrong. I believed that they never made mistakes, they were too old and wise. The same went for my teachers, older members of our extended family and just adults in general. I felt so safe, comforted by the fact that they knew and were in control, so I didn’t have to be. The older I became, the more I realized how faulty my ideas were. I never did become any wiser as I grew up; I had information and data that bombarded my brain and knowledge on how I must act to be socially accepted. I was told what I could do and what I mustn’t do. Perhaps I do know more about life and the world, but I don’t understand it; perhaps that is for the better.
I remember when I first heard the song ‘Teenagers’ by My Chemical Romance, and I began to think about the meaning behind it.
‘They’re gonna clean up your looks With all the lies in the books To make a citizen out of you Because they sleep with a gun And keep an eye on you, son So they can watch all the things you do Because the drugs never work They’re gonna give you a smirk ’Cause they’ve got methods of keeping you clean They’re gonna rip up your heads Your aspirations to shreds Another cog in the murder machine They say that teenagers scare the living s*** out of me They could care less as long as someone’ll bleed So darken your clothes or strike a violent pose Maybe they’ll leave you alone, but not me The boys and girls in the clique The awful names that they stick You’re never gonna fit in much, kid But if you’re troubled and hurt What you got under your shirt We’ll make them pay for the things that they did’ The song did change my view on how teenagers are seen by society, but not in a way that I expected. I think that the singer, Gerard Way, is exploring how society wants to change teenagers to make them do as they are told and fit in and do well at school. However, the more they do this, the more teenagers rebel.
In the chorus, Way expresses his fear of teenagers, of their tendency to perhaps be unpredictable and violent. ‘So darken your clothes or strike a violent pose Maybe they’ll leave you alone, but not me’ I think he is trying to put forward the idea that society might ignore them or leave them alone if they act threatening and imposing, but as he is an adult, he is expected to stay in line and meet the expectations of society. I think it’s difficult being a teenager. People don’t seem to realize or might have even forgotten. I am at the age where I am too old to rely on others and make mistakes but not old enough to take control of my life and look after myself. This time in my life that makes up my teenage years is important, and I want to make the most of that but I find myself overwhelmed by set backs and a severe lack of control. There are so many aspects of my life the government wants to control.
They want to cram so many exams and so much work into these few short years of our lives that we find ourselves snowed under it all. It seems that these years of our lives are the most important. They define us and decide what our future holds. The pressure is on: if you fail your science G.C.S.E then you won’t be able to take it for A level. If you can’t take it for A level, you won’t be able to study it at university, or get a PHD, or ever become a doctor. The government has decided that exams mean everything. An A and an A* could mean the difference between your dream job and being unhappy for the rest of your life, stuck with a boring job that perhaps pays decently, becoming miserable and dying a failure. It’s too much. This has to be the reason why we find that more and more teenagers each year are turning to drugs, self harm, eating disorders and depression. Why does everyone question the rise in the number of these cases? Is it not obvious? I’m sure it also has something to with the rise of the internet and everything that we are being exposed to. Quite frankly, we can’t cope with it. It seems that no one understands but teenagers themselves. Of course, it’s all quite a cliche to say that no one understands teenagers, but it does seem to be true. I wouldn’t say that all teenagers can’t cope and I realize that some cope better than others, but I know that our system isn’t working. Not the corrupt government with its exams and heavy pressure on students, and the not the corrupted internet with its social networking sites and pornographic images that seem to be everywhere.
The adverts that tell us what a perfect person looks like are crushing and I find them insulting. There is a silent reminder that lingers in the air telling us to be normal, a clone of everyone else and to fit in. Some people come to a point in their life when they decide that enough is enough and they wear what they want and act how they like. I have a theory that people are like sling shots: the more they are pulled back and restrained, the further they go when they are let go. They get to a point where they cannot be pulled back any further. This is when people pierce and tattoo their bodies or wear socially unacceptable clothing to show the world that they are not going to be told what to do. There are also the quiet ones who starve themselves to be in control, take drugs to take away the pain or self harm to prove that the pain they are feeling is not just in their heads, its real and they can control it.
There are even people who work themselves sick to be in control of their future. What I find interesting is that every generation is different: each has its own pressures that differ from the last. Not long ago, I would have been expected to get married not too soon from now and raise a family, possibly with a man I didn’t even love. Only recently has homosexuality become socially and legally acceptable. So before, teenagers would have had trouble fitting in, or would have had to pretend to be heterosexual. We as teenagers never really have been in control and with a personality like mine, that can be extremely overwhelming. It seems now we are finding our voice and are able to express ourselves. I can see that there are positive aspects about being a teenager in this day and age: some of us turn to positive hobbies to take our minds off the stress of exams. More and more teenagers are relying on their great passion in life and developing it to take their mind off their difficulties. This might be music, cooking, writing, designing, drawing or sport. I still remember the first time I played the drums and I’ve never looked back. They made me love music even more and I started playing the guitar as well. I wrote songs and started to sing. Music became my obsession and it is one aspect of my life that I can control.
I can do it myself without having to listen to the people who tell me what I should be listening to, what I should be playing or what I should be writing. I do believe that if nothing is going to change, then we all need something to turn to in life that reminds us we can cope. I know that it wouldn’t work for everyone, but perhaps people who take drugs could start drawing or painting. Instead of people focussing on their body weight they could start to cook their own food and be in control of that instead. People who self harm could write down their feelings or express it through music, or even go out and run off their sadness. I think people need to remind themselves what makes them happy and if nothing does then they should find something. I know nothing will change for some time, but in the meantime we need to find a way to make the most of our teenage years.