The young and the unreckless

By SIMMI SHARMA, sophomore

IRRESPONSIBLE: this word is constantly used to describe today’s generation. Adults accuse us of partying every night without a care about our future; after witnessing this firsthand, I have to say that they aren’t always wrong. But has anyone talked about the teenagers who are willing to stay home and study every night, hoping to get into their dream colleges? Has anyone talked about the teenagers who constantly worry about their future careers, thanks to the current condition of our economy? And has anyone noticed how many burdens the older generations have placed on us? Adults should start looking at the positive side of our generation rather than zooming in on the negatives.

So many students are obsessed with being admitted to Ivy League universities, but as students’ ambitions rise, so do the standards. Suddenly, it isn’t enough just to have a 4.0 GPA; now, you must be the leader of a club and run a charity just to be considered in good standing. Such expectations lead students to push themselves to the limit. They work hard for their grades, battle for leadership positions, and even raise money for orphans in Uganda during weekends. It’s shameful that most adults don’t see the sacrifices that these students constantly make in order to achieve their dreams. Adults should admire the perseverance of these students rather than call them irresponsible or lazy without good reason.

Of course, even acceptance into a good college is not a guarantee of a viable career — the unemployment rate for college graduates is about 9.4%. In addition to worries about future employment prospects, our generation must deal with crippling debt just to pay for our education. About 60% of college attendees — roughly 12 million students — need to borrow money to cover the costs of college each year. Your future filters down to three options: don’t go to college and face unemployment and low wages, go to a state college and sacrifice a better education and experiences that you could’ve had at the college of your choice, or go to the college you want to while facing probable debt and possible unemployment even after graduation.

Fiscal and educational problems aren’t the only troubles that we, the current generation, face. The biggest obstacles are society’s expectations. Girls have so much outside pressure to be beautiful that they often spiral out of control and are left anorexic, bulimic, or depressed. It’s an unfortunate and a sad reality that in our society, people who look different are treated poorly. Statistics show that 42% of girls in the first, second, and third grades want to be thinner and are afraid of being fat. This figure almost doubles in the fifth grade, in which 81% of girls reported that they face similar fears. And it’s not just girls who have society’s pressure on them — boys deal with similar expectations. When I asked my fellow male peers about the pressures they feel from society, they often mentioned feeling the need to be masculine, intelligent, and successful. Our world dictates that boys need to be manly, athletic, and not interested in activities such as theatre, dance, and art. Males aren’t supposed to act on Broadway, dance ballet, or draw pictures. And if what they love isn’t in line with the status quo, they face discrimination and disapproval. There are some of us that struggle everyday with the pressure of looking or acting a certain way, but manage to keep moving, regardless. These people are the true individuals of our generation.

My generation isn’t perfect; some consider us the worst generation ever, but in reality, we face some of the greatest difficulties ever known. To achieve our dreams, we need to work harder than our parents did and, even after all that work, there’s a large chance that it won’t count. Our futures are bleak: money struggles are imminent and dreams will remain dreams just so we can survive. Most importantly, society’s expectations of us are even greater than what they used to be. Rather than blindly criticizing our generation, adults need to look at the challenges we face every day. Although every generation faces problems, our generation is the worst off. What needs to be realized is that we’re a generation of heroes for being able to face these troubles and emerge shaken but strong.

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