We are a nation obsessed with labels. We like to tag things- throw them in sub-categories and restrict each other in any way possible. As a teenager you are exposed to many things for the first time. Drugs, alcohol, sexuality and sex to name a few things are issues we become more aware of. There are many issues that impact young people that sometimes are seen as trivial in the adult world. As a teenager you are in this awkward limbo stage of not being able to classify yourself as a child anymore but you are forced to use services aimed at children because you aren't quite an 'adult' just yet.
Youth is a time for experimentation. To make mistakes and suffer the consequences, but then to do it again because it was just as thrilling as the first time. I'm not saying your youth is meant for recklessness but it is one of the few times you can be reckless and have no serious repercussions; depending on the context of course.
I am a firm believer that experience can lessen the impact of external influences on a person. As you grow older you learn things and take life in a different perspective, however, not everyone is the same and I have known some young people to see more sense than a person that has lived double the existence than that of the young person. Many young people have been rejected from certain roles and responsibilities purely due to lack of experience, but how can you gain experience if you are not allowed these opportunities? Young people are essentially adults with restrictions. Our minds are still developing and our bodies growing but that should not impact the choices we have access to. My aim as a person is to have an unadulterated form of wisdom that gives me a wider view on life, as oppose to taking up a narrow minded way of thinking. It is something that is difficult as a young person to take up sometimes as in the media and within our surroundings we are often described one side of the story, as oppose to the full 365 chapters.
Recently an attempt to extend the voting franchise to 16 year olds was discredited. During the General Election 2015 most of the people that took to social media to discuss the outcome were in fact teenagers. From my understanding not all schools teach politics and my experience of it was a 45 minute disruptive lesson in citizenship at Year 9, so it just goes to show interest in politics is not just sparked by studying it. Teenagers need passionate and caring influences within schools if there is a genuine interest, as it seems that many opinions of youth in the world of politics are ignored point blankly. This up and coming generation have to suffer the consequence of the vote, whilst adults that may not live to experience the consequences gain the right to vote. I am not saying it is wrong for adults to make decision but if we are capable young people then why can we not vote?
I know as a young person I still have a lot of growing up to do mentally but like all things that will come from time and experience. We need opportunities to grow and learn from mistakes. I think once you have passed a certain stage of life you forget how difficult it was when you were in that stage. I will admit I have already seen that in my age group already. During my A-level examinations this year I recall students saying "GCSEs are so easy- I would rather 20 GCSE exams over 1 AS/A2!" but these very students were nervous and complained the same during GCSE.
It's easy to forget how you felt yesterday if you feel another way today. It takes a lot to empathise with people going through a different stage of life as you- but all it takes is a small thought to understand.
There are so many things I have learnt over the last few years as a teenager that may shape some of the opinions I form as a fully grown adult- but that is due to my environment and what I have learnt. It is not someone's duty to teach me certain things, but it is mine to go out and explore. Sometimes as a person we jump from one diversion to another and never pay heed to the current moment and appreciate life for what it is. We are not going to be young forever, and we won't have this form of existential freedom forever- but what we will have is the things we have learnt. Our knowledge and achievements now do not necessarily have to have any impact on the choices we make later on. What does have an impact is in that moment- not this moment.
Maliha Reza, CEO of the World Youth Organization