Teens from the YWCA chapter at Hapeville Charter Academy share their reflections about what does or doesn’t make teens in 2015 the greatest generation.
Woodley White, 16
I am 16 and to myself, I’m normal, but to others, I’m a non-teen. Let me explain and put this in a simpler way. I don’t like to text, talk on the phone or go out with people a lot. I don’t have a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Kik account or any other social media account. I just found out about Uggs about a week ago (and I may have spelled that wrong).
I’m a chatterer who is quiet, and I’m social but anti-social, now that I think about it. I am different but alike at the same time. I know there are others like me out there. I don’t strive to be different, I just strive to be me. And trust me, when you block all the haters, you won’t have to spend the rest of your life looking for yourself. When you’ve been with yourself since birth, the first time you took a breath, you just have to remember all the things you love, not just the things people love you for.
I’m not paying $100 for a pair of Jordans or over $20 for a freaking shirt. Things don’t define you; they accessorize you. Shoot, my favorite store is Ross and sometimes, Macy’s if they’re having a sale. I’m not ashamed. I also have a healthy obsession with food. I’m am not trying to be anorexic or skinny.
You were put on this earth by God (my religion, but if you have a different one, your higher power). Just remember to be yourself and not someone else. Why not see what amazing things you can do by being yourself.
Divanna Justo, 17
In today’s teen generation, everyone has an opinion on what is considered “beautiful.” It’s hard for me to understand how someone can mold the definition of beauty. Everyday, young girls feel unworthy because of what society feeds into their heads on how they’re supposed to look. No one can tell me what I should find beautiful. I find intelligence to be beautiful, not a big butt. I find determination and drive to be beautiful, not a small waist. I find kindness and compassion to be beautiful, not long hair. Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way and no one should set the standards of beauty for someone else.
Gynger Johnson, 16
Every day I see and hear for myself how most teenage relationships work out. Most times, I see a relationship where the guy treats the girl like she’s a worthless penny but she treats him as royalty. But in other relationships, I see both the guy and the girl treat each other fairly and more respectfully. These days, it seems hard for teeneagers to come together and see eye to eye having respect for each other is fair. In school you always get a different outlook on teen relationships. For example, you have the “thugs” who tend to talk to a number of girls and talk to them in any type of way and however they want. Then you have other teen relationships where teens are respectful to each other. I can relate to all of these emotions. Being in a relationship with no respect and feeling unworthy taught me so much about not being afraid to let that person go and build a better relationship.
Kayla Davis, 16
Sometimes I feel like we teenagers are being misconstrued. Adults don’t know the pressures we face — the judgements, the standards, the school work, the tests and so much more. We are so overwhelmed with just everything and aren’t allowed to cry about it. I’ve been taught to be tough because the world doesn’t care. Too often, we’re lumped in with the teens who don’t have any sense of home training. Try walking down the hallways of my school or sitting in one of my classes. You will see the rude behavior my teachers experience and the lack of respect shown to my peers and to school supplies. Some students don’t care about anything. What you often don’t see is the hard working and dedicated students. Sometimes, I feel like these students are being overshadowed by the students who don’t care and because of that, these students can lose their motivation, inspiration and drive. That isn’t fair! We’re put into the category of being lazy or ungrateful or we lack drive when that isn’t true. We just gave up.
Christin Beasley, 15
Dear teen population in America,
The majority of you have your priorities seriously mixed up. In practically all aspects of your life. We worry about all the wrong types of things, myself included. We as a whole need to get our priorities straight. And fast too. Growing up with technology, we have so many more opportunities than the generations before us. We could seriously change the world. All we have to do is put our minds to it. We have to stop procrastinating and putting everything off onto the back burner. We gotta focus on the important things in life. What truly matters. Not celebrities, not Snapchat, not Instagram, not Twitter, not Tumbler. None of that. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have. We shouldn’t be spending more time on social media than we do with our families and friends. Actually with them. We shouldn’t be putting more effort into social media than we do our school work. We should be productive. We gotta stop being lazy and get off our butts. We should be doing constructive things. Activities that help, not hurt us. We gotta live up to our full potential. Don’t give up, get inspired. Bad choices make great stories but good choices make even better ones. So get up. Get active. Do something that has a positive effect on somebody’s life. Give someone a good reason to remember you. Become an inspiration.
Breonna Arbee, 17
Self esteem is something that I have always dealt with. I believed that I was not pretty and too fat. I thought my appearance was horrible compared to other girls. I felt like I wished I were another person. Somebody who looked better than me. There was a time in my life when things started to really go bad for me. I suffered from depression because of my insecurities. I thought self-harm was the answer to making me feel better. So i tried it once and realized that I needed help. I didn’t want to be like that anymore. I wanted to love myself, love who I am. I didn’t know how or where to start. I had a therapist but my family was so busy with moving I didn’t see her for two months. My mom decided to take me to this program so I could get help. I was in a facility with other teens like me who had similar problems. We had group sessions where we talked about how we can cope with our problems and we did activities to help us about how we feel about ourselves. The program opened doors for me. After being there for a week, I came to realize that I have to love myself for who I am. It doesn’t matter what people or society think. I have to be my own me. The program helped me realize how I affected my family, especially my little sister. I realized I have to be a good example for her.
Sometimes, I think back and I regret that I self-harmed but I also try and look at it in a positive way. Not only did I get the help I needed, I also met other teens who were going through similar situations who encouraged me. Now I will always remember to love myself, be my own me and it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Even though it may not be easy, I truly believe that all teens would have a happy life and good self-esteem in they learn from lessons I experienced.
Sequoia Simon, 15
Some say life is short
To find a spark now
But we become procrastinators
Always asking how
We won’t always be young forever
So we have great opportunities
But we never see it
Until it’s too late to be
There is so much in the world
That we should all want to see
But we’re bound by uncertainties
Giving them the decree
We experience a lot
As young, undeveloped teens
First shouting with our friends
Then suffering from the scenes
We are an unbalanced bomb
Armed at any time
Filled with immature emotions
That dictate our behavior on a dime
We are always confused
But never seem to admit
Some things we remember
And some we choose to forget
But Left out the mixed emotions
And everything else we get
This was said to be our prime of life
The years we’ll never forget
But left out the mixed emotions
And everything else we get
They say be ready
It’s better to know how
But we’re too focused on the present
The future is stuck in the clouds
Some say life is long
To take all the time you need
I say life is life
That time is left in a dead man’s deed
As a teen, I have experienced just about everything and anything. One time, I was at a party with my friends and when we usually throw parties, we do drugs. I walked in the room and they were doing coke and offered me some. I said no and wasn’t judged for it. I know drugs will mess up my life but sometimes I don’t care. I started doing drugs when I was about 11 and now at 17, I can tell anyone about any type of drug. Being a girl in a religious family, doing drugs has not been the best topic at the dinner table. Because I cannot always get along with my family, i use drugs as an outlet. I was once caught with an almost empty bottle of vodka in my room. I had no explanation for what my parents had found. Sometimes, I’ll try and stop doing drugs but something always pulls me back in. Teens my age probably know everything about drugs because they are selling them themselves. Adults usually tell us we are wasting our youth on drugs but most teens probably won’t care until it’s already too late. Drugs have fixed my life but also made it worse. In my 10th grade year, I found out I had Attention Deficit, a common learning disorder that many teens have. All my life I thought I was normal with no problems. At that point, I started to use drugs more and more even though they affected my mind. I was so depressed because everything that could have gone wrong went wrong all at once. My mom told me I could have developed this because my dad used coke before I was conceived. This whole time I hated my dad and who he was but in reality, I’m just like him and I think that’s the part that scares me. Currently, I’m the “stoner” in my group of friends. If they need drugs, I know where to find them. Sometimes I wonder if I will end up a junkie or something. But nobody knows yet, nobody can tell I do drugs or knows why I do them. For now, it’s just another story waiting to be thought about and written down.