One thing I’ve noticed about popular culture is that it’s obsessed with youth. It’s always young pop stars who top the charts, its always young actors who get the biggest parts, and its always young people who are picked to represent pop culture. While I certainly wouldn’t want the opposite to be true, I can’t help but think that we live in a world with a youth-obsessed culture, where everything about being young is exalted while being old is seen in a less positive light.
Ever since the dawn of rock and roll, popular culture has been putting forward the stereotype of acting like you’re always a teenager, presenting it as the ideal. In that world, there exists the cultural dichotomy of either “partying down” or “surrendering to the man”. Consequently, we have generations of young people convinced that the right way to act can be found in those brainless teen movies Hollywood keeps churning out. The problem here is that youth culture, at the moment, still pretends that life is a teen movie from the 1970’s.
Every time I think about the stereotypical youth culture that we’re constantly exposed to, I think of how glad I am that I’m in my twenties, despite how hellish it is so far. For me, the teen years were pure bullshit. Everyone’s competing for a mate, and so shy guys like me always get pushed to the corners while some hotshot guy always get what they want. During the teen years, you grapple with all sorts of new emotions that you have no idea how to deal with, and yet we just go with the flow anyway because many of us haven’t thought of another way yet, and on top of that, the establishment isn’t done trying to crush every fibre of your soul just yet.
Given all that, I’d have thought that I’d want to be an adult if it meant no longer gliding through the winds of confusion. As for being an adult, adulthood is mainly a state of mind, so we can choose to enter adulthood when we’re ready, but the fact remains that adulthood is inevitable. That being said, why is it so hideously uncool to be an adult? Being an adult presents as much opportunities as it does challenges. It’s not the same as slowly surrendering your brain and becoming a mindless drone, but somehow we’ve taught ourselves that growing up is a form of spiritual death. I myself once fell into that trap a few years ago, but now that I’m preparing to go to university next year, I find that many of the notions of growing up I had were pure escapism.
To be honest, I haven’t really led an exciting life as a teenager. I tried to and failed, so to me, the idea of your teen years being the best years of your life is now a lie. For me, the best years of your life would the be years when you’ve got it made, and unless you’re from a rich family, that only happens to us while we’re adults, and yet there’s so much more to it than that, more even than I know at my age. Who knows, maybe I’ll discover that life isn’t as cruel as everyone makes it out to be (an idea we should have been teaching to a younger age), and that’s more than can be said about where I am now. Yes, it’s going to be harder, but more worth it in the end, and it’s certainly better than what teen movies would make teenage life out to be.