Why are we so keen to be Eighteen?

When our social media news feeds are flooded with young celebrities preaching makeup, driving Ferraris and dating grown men at least 4 years older than them, it’s hard to  remain in the mind frame of a kid. So why has rapid ageing become such a trend in teenagers? Why is growing older so desired at the age of 16 but only dreaded at 30?

As time progresses, youth are portraying adults, each generation starting this transition at an increasingly earlier age. So what is causing this alteration in morals and views? Why is the stereotypical image of a 12 year old girl no longer one wearing an ‘Adventure Time’ t-shirt and 3/4 length denim shorts, but instead, become one wearing tight short-shorts that barely cover her backside while exposing areas that haven’t even fully developed? Is this an abnormal extremity of society or is it the natural progression of youth and their rebellion-craving attitude?

But, coincidentally, this rapid change in teenagers has a strong association with the sudden boom in the popularity of social media. So, this leads to the question: is youth too easily influenced by others?

We are all a concoction of puppets, mirroring others’ actions, views and beliefs. Some of us are more strong-minded than others but every one of us is able to be triggered by some sort of opinion or action. Humans are like fresh apples surrounding a rotting fruit, only diminishing in the rotten fruit’s presence and bringing the same fate upon themselves. It is enough for one person to be influenced by an idea and then to lead an army of people to act the same way.

“The rotten apple spoils its companion”

~ Ben Franklin

With time, youngsters have had more access to “adult-stuff” that kids haven’t had in the past. Some including a steady access to money (a job), mobile phone and laptop, things that were previously shared and seen as a privilege have now become elementary. Youth are adapting to this adult mindset, tricking themselves into thinking that they are older than their predetermined age. It is environmental factors that are influencing this growth, catalysing a domino effect. Increased access to technology such as social media allows a daily view on the lives of young celebrities such as Kylie Jenner (adopting a life style similar to that of her older sisters), and influences young girls to also grow up at a younger age. This has an effect on many girls who then adopt this image, influencing girls around them who are not usually impacted by celebrities, causing a change in the stereotypical appearance of a teenager. Of course, growing up for celebrities is usually a quicker process than that of non-famous people. Thus, shouldn’t the timeline of youth progression be different for those in a different position?

Celebrities are lacking the opportunity attached to normal childhood that is otherwise promised to those of a non-famous background. So why is this opportunity ignored instead of being vigorously exploited? We may lack the millions of dollars in our savings accounts but we are guaranteed something that is worth so much more.

We are guaranteed a timeframe free of responsibilities, able to be manipulated, and used as we wish. We are given a chance to experiment, be wild, discover our personality, interests and form our beliefs. A time that is crucial to our development as a person is easily thrown away by those who wish to skip this step.

Youth comes with schooling, a time to decide what you would like to do as a career, an opportunity that is not available in many less-fortunate, developing countries. This is a task made easier with an already-formed idea of yourself – a personality that is shaped during the crucial period of teenage years.

But to answer my initial question; why is ‘growing up’ only glorified in teenage years and not after the age of 30? Teenagers often strive to outshine others their age in an attempt to be seen as more popular, cool and to create an image of themselves that shows them as teenagers who have, I guess you could call it, ‘made it’, in terms of the teenage world. Surpassing legal barriers and doing what is considered as wrongful is commonly discerned as some sort of VIP card that these teens then carry around to prove their dominance over others. But in fact, how does this aid their lives at all? They are doing something that other teens will also be able to do in a matter of years, so what long-term benefits does this social status provide? None. But what does it provide for the naive and misinformed, rebellious teen? In their eyes: everything. The reason that people of a higher age aren’t content with growing older is very often this remorse they feel for misusing their teenage years and only pushing those years forward and merging them with their adult years which are then impossible to squeeze out of. They also understand the significance of the age they are in now, hurriedly utilising it, carrying the fear that ageing may accompany a loss of opportunities, youth, and maybe even intellect.

So remember, in your rush to become an official adult, that you will be an adult for the rest of your life, but a kid for only 18 years of it. Cherish your young years, and use them to your upmost potential to ensure you will look upon your past with pride and respect instead of regret and torment.

NatashaSchap

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