JOIN OR DIE : Being a Young Adult in Today’s Society

Sydney Varnado, Staff Writer

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to play a, what I thought would be funny and lighthearted, joke on my mom. While sitting in the kitchen watching her cook breakfast for one of my older sisters and I, I told her I had decided that I wouldn’t be going to college. I then decided to go further by stating that if I did go to college, I didn’t care what school I went to or what I majored in or even if I succeeded in life or not.

Unfortunately, she didn’t react well as she proceeded to yell about how not going to college wasn’t an option. Although I was only joking, this interaction made me seriously think about how much pressure adults put on teenagers to become functional members of society in an extremely short time span.

At sixteen, college wasn’t on my mind fully, what I wanted to for the rest of my life was simply a passing thought. However, today at seventeen, I have a full plate of college applications, high school, a job, and still trying to fit in a social life. Everyday I am asked at least once, “What school are you going to?” or “What major are you going for?” While not outrageous questions, the answer to them all is simply that I have no clue, and I think most kids my age feel that way. Sure everyone has their dream school and their dream job but deep down we’re all just reckless teenagers trying to find ourselves. Instead of being given time to let our developing minds process the life changing decisions we have to make, we are hit with deadlines.

According to Naperville North student, Tessa Newman, teenagers are faced with something called “Pressure Culture.” In a posting, Newman states that “the culture instills a belief that there is no worse fate than failure.” I feel as though many teenagers can relate to this as well as myself.

Since 1st Grade,  I have been in placed in advanced learning courses and my family has always told me that I’m going to be the one to succeed if no one else does. While coming from an outside perspective, comments like these may seem very complimentary, for me it has always felt like I constantly had a set of eyes watching me to see if I would fail. No one wants to be the kid that ten years from now is homeless on the streets begging for money from a person you once shared classwork answer with. No one wants to be the person at the high school reunion that still lives at home with their mom or is working to barely get by. However, that does not mean everyone has to take the same path or that said path is made for everyone.

When it comes to teens entering adulthood, society tends to take a Benjamin Franklin approach to things: Join or Die. I mean life doesn’t seem that serious to where not making an orthodox transition into society will ultimately result in your doom, right?

So why are teenagers made to believe that everything they do at this very moment will determine their lives and they have to make a decision now? Why is it so covertly communicated that  if we make a wrong choice, we can’t turn back and that we’re ruined?

According to an article published in Everyday Health, “ Up to 30 percent of adolescents have at least one episode of it, and 50 to 75 percent of adolescents with anxiety, impulse control, and hyperactivity disorders develop them during the teenage years.” 

The stress put on to young adults is enough to cause anyone to have a mental breakdown. At this time in our lives we are stuck in a position where we are expected to take control of our lives while still ultimately having no control of lives. We are left to make all of these “life-changing” decisions and to be independent while still being dependents. We still rely on our parents, still have to ask for permission to do things but we are told we should be making adult decisions.

In my humble opinion, these precious years of our lives should be a time where we discover who we are and who we want to be without all of the pressure society puts on us. Even though college is supposed to be the time where you figure all of this out, there is still the looming storm cloud of life waiting to release its fury after you graduate. All in all, I feel as though life should give us time and teens should be able to make their life choices in a more relaxed and less stressful manner.