Boy21: Teens' Biggest Fear Is Failure

The Problems of Teenagers

Matthew Quick Boy 21 deals with issues that teenagers face in there everyday lives. On a day to day basis teenagers interacts with parents and friends which impacts their lives. Teenagers experience positive and negative relationships which ironically leads to higher stress levels or bliss. My personal experience with the generation gap between my parents and I causes my stress levels to rise. Their expectations of me can be impossible. However, in Boy 21 Finley relationship with his girlfriend impacts they way Plays basketball negatively.

In addition, confidence and self esteem is another factor which all teenagers go through. Negative events caused low self esteem, which can drain energy. A teenagers biggest fear is failure because it can create parental conflicts, unhealthy competition and low self esteem.

Unrealistic Expectations

Indeed the generation gap between parents, parents and their children is vast. The generation gap In the Sri Lankan culture is stringent and forceful. Hence, parents and children do not get along because of the strict traditional rules enforced by parents upon their children.

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Parents remain old school and cannot adapt to the western society because their concervative upbringing subsequently socializing with their friend and dating is taboo. In addition, parents act as the law enforcement placing rigid rules at home. They expect their children to provide their undivided attention on homework and studying. Consequently, this impacts the teenager in a negative way. Teenagers feel the tension and stress, especially when the child cannot exceed expectations in their school curriculum.

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Parents expect their children to be like superheroes and be top in both their academic work and extracurricular activities. Hence, the situation becomes even more estate when parents resort to comparing children of other relatives and friends. They expect their children to shine like a star and outshine other family members. Needless to say when parents are at social gatherings, they discuss their children's progress at school which is embarrassing as well as stressful. Indirectly, this leads them to pressuring their children to meet up the challenge set by other children. They fail to realize that unrealistic expectations lead to depression in teenagers. This is also somewhat shown in Boy 21 with Finley. Finley has high expectations in many of the things he does. Finley's Mother passed away prior to the book. With the death of his mother causes Finley to have high expectations because of the death of his mother. He had very high expectations in his sports, school and his decision making by his surroundings. His dad and paps expect him to do well in school because he knows he lives in an uncivilized town and area with poverty and that his family wants to see him do well in school because in the future they want to see Finley to do well in school so they could be wealthier and move out of Belmont for good. The quotation "I remember wondering how many other things I didn't know about my parents. You only get to know so much." This quotation talks about how teenagers feel when they think they don't know anything about their parents and how studies and school show u so much about parents. It shows both Teenagers and Finley on how we are expected to be at the top of our class and brings us stress which will lead to depression.

Losing One's Focus

Indeed, unhealthy competition in an individual's life impacts an individual's daily functioning. In addition unhealthy relationships also has an impact on a person's social and physiological functioning. To illustrate this the character of Finley can be analyzed. Finley poses as a star player on the basketball court. However, the break up with his girlfriend Eric has a devastating effect on his performance. On the basketball court he was a strong player who dedicated himself to be a star player after the break up, he loses his skills and technique to be a star player. Subsequently this showcases how relationships with others impacts one's daily functioning. In addition, Eris basketball skills took a turn for the worst. It is imperative that focus is what one needs to succeed in life. Consequently when Erin meets with an accident Finley proves to be a drop out in sports,as he cannot focus to win or team play. Hence, it is evident that Finley gets into temptations rather than focusing on what needs to succeed. Moreover, when his teammate introduces him too drugs, Finley does not hesitate to give into temptation. I can draw a meta cognitive awareness between my life and Finley's. Similarly, I lost my focus when my best friend met with an accident. My head was knotted on negative thoughts, which drastically has an impact on my ability to focus. However, hard work and dedication brought me back on track.

Low Self Esteem

Furthermore, teenagers all experience low self esteem sometime in their lives. The novel demonstrates that Finley experiences this confidence in basketball, which constitutes low self esteem. His ability to focus and not let the outside world have an impact on his confidence is a challenge. These challenging factors is visible when his friend Russ exceeds expectations in sports and in his academic work. The quotation 'it's a long race and you can always outwork talent in the end' talks about how his hard work will get him his role back and having the confidence will help Psychological negative events around him become a challenge which evidently impacts his ability to perform in both sports and academically. Unfortunately, Finley is faced with negative circumstances living in poverty, his mother's death and his grandfather's amputated leg takes a toll on Finley's life, which impacts him negatively. Likewise, at one stage of my life I realize that my self esteem declines when my marks at school go down. It is imperative that my marks go down due to lack of focus which is an issue that Finley Has too. However, when my academic marks decline I fall into a period of depression, feeling worthless. I go into hermit mode by isolating myself from my family and friends who care about me. Consequently, higher grades and team play on the basketball court leads to more confidence.


To sum it up, Finley goes through many obstacles at typical teenager goes threw in hopes of not failing with parents, sports and low self esteem. Finley faces with many sports issues because of the typical teenager issues which is effects himself on a day to day basis. However the break up with his girlfriend caused a lot of conflict in the book and changed who he was which he feared throughout the whole book. A teenagers biggest fear is failure because it can create parental conflicts, unhealthy competition and low self esteem.

Works cited

  1. Quick, M. (2012). Boy 21. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
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  3. Copeland-Linder, N., Jones, V. C., Haynie, D. L., & Simons-Morton, B. (2018). Parenting practices and adolescent risk behaviors: a longitudinal analysis. Journal of family issues, 39(12), 3406-3427.
  4. Guo, J., & Chung, I. J. (2020). How do parents' education expectations lead to adolescent achievement and depressive symptoms? The mediating role of academic motivation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49(5), 1015-1029.
  5. Kumar, S. (2015). Self-esteem and emotional maturity of adolescents: A comparative study. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(3), 319-322.
  6. Nwachukwu, B. C. (2020). Psychological effects of parental pressure on adolescents. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 30(1), 41-55.
  7. Pomerantz, E. M., Altermatt, E. R., & Saxon, J. L. (2002). Making the grade but feeling distressed: Relations among gender, academic achievement, and distress in early adolescence. Child development, 73(4), 1131-1144.
  8. Resnick, M. D., Harris, L. J., & Blum, R. W. (1993). The impact of caring and connectedness on adolescent health and well-being. Journal of paediatrics and child health, 29(s1), S3-S9.
  9. Tatzel, M., & Schackner, G. (1999). Antecedents and consequences of envy among adolescents. Journal of Social Psychology, 139(6), 795-805.
  10. Yeo, S. J., & Zhou, L. (2019). The effects of parental expectations on adolescents’ academic achievements and self-esteem. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(9), 2528-2537.
Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Boy21: Teens' Biggest Fear Is Failure. (2024, Feb 11). Retrieved from

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