Being a teenager in 2017

Before I get into this one, I would just like to say that I hope everyone got the grades that they wanted today on their A level results day. If you didn’t get what you hoped for then please there are still many things that you can do to maybe improve those grades or take an alternative route that could be just as beneficial in the end.

 

“You lot have it easy these days”

That’s what the adults of our generation repeatedly say to us as we silently build up frustration within ourselves.

Our teenagers don’t have it as easy as you may think. Yes, we might get more pocket money, have better gadgets and get more holidays abroad. But maybe, just maybe it isn’t all that simple.

With the rise of social media and the use of apps like Instagram and Snapchat, young people feel more pressured to fit in with others. Feeling like they have to wear the same clothes, makeup and have that perfect ‘summer body’. We have role models like Kim Kardashian along with the latest stars from Love Island. Boys feel like they have to go the gym and girls, have to get the new Kylie Jenner lip kit. And if you don’t have an Instagram account then… well that’s another matter within itself. Our peers and role models undeniably cause teenagers to feel less worthy. It’s almost like life is becoming a competition of materialism.

When it comes to academics, teenagers are pushed to excel in ways that only a few did 30 years ago. With the expectation of good GCSE grades leading onto A levels and university further down the line, young people have to constantly worry about their futures at an incredibly young age. University was virtually unheard of in working class backgrounds but now it’s becoming the ‘standard’. It often makes me wonder if all of this pressure is doing us any good?

A thing that teenagers find frustrating is that we are often expected to be ‘adult like’. We’re encouraged to taker responsibility for things despite being treated like children. Confusing. A lot of the time when speaking to adults, you’re made to think that your opinions aren’t valid simply because of your age despite you having more/better qualifications than them. Yes, life experiences teach you a lot but allowing teenagers to form their own opinions on things won’t cause any harm.

Teenagers often understand the struggles that adults had as teenagers. I think that teenagers would like adults to understand theirs too. At the end of the day, disregarding problems won’t solve anything.

Are you a feminist?

“Feminist. the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

You might have heard those words in Beyoncé’s hit song ‘Flawless’. Feminism is a pretty simple concept but for an unclear reason, so many people aren’t able to grasp the importance of it. To make it clear, feminism isn’t the battle between men and women. Nor is it the mission to make women superior to men. To break it down, a feminist is someone who believes that men and women should be able to have equal rights when it comes to everyday life. Political power and equal pay is just a small part of it.

Before, I go into too much detail, you have to be able to accept that men are way more privileged in society compared to women. We have more male leaders and men are constantly getting paid more then women. All you have to do is look at the recent headlines stating that men working for the BBC are getting paid way more than women in most instances. We have to recognise that women aren’t given as many opportunities to excel financially or gain political power too.

The government is the organisation that essentially runs our country. But when you take a step back, you will realise that the government is predominately run by white men. Only 208 women MP’s were elected at the 2017 General Election which only equates to 32% of MP’s overall. But if these people are representing our country then how does this make sense? Is it representative? Should it be 50% men and 50% women? Those are questions that you can only answer for yourself. Similarly, only 8% of MP’s in the House of Common are from an ethnic minority background. But that’s another issue in itself which could have it’s own blog post.

You might argue that Theresa May is the current Prime Minister. You’re right, but let’s not forget that she is only the second female Prime Minister in the history of seventy six UK leaders.

There are many other issues when it comes to women’s equality. All you have to do is google them. Keep an open mind and read explanations for things instead of bashing feminism without any real knowledge of it. You might realise that being a feminist includes being able to believe in the equality for all women. That includes, black women, Muslim women and trans women. They all have the same struggles as well as having the struggles of being a minority in society too. Make sure you keep that in mind.

Feminism has come a long way over the years, from women not being allowed to attend school to women being able to take part in the general election votes. Its crazy to think that the women in our own families weren’t allowed to vote in the early 1900’s. So, are you a feminist? If you’re not a feminist then you need to ask yourself why. Is it because you don’t believe in gender equality or is it because you’re worried about the labels that may come with it.

It’s simple, if you think that women should have the same rights as men, then you’re basically a feminist, pal.

What I learned from my first year at sixth form

Recently, I finished my first year at sixth form (equivalent to 11th grade). Towards the latter part of the year, especially after my exams, I began to reflect and realise that I have learned a lot of general life lessons along the way. I have also learned a lot about myself and how to better myself as a human being. Using the knowledge that I now have, I can hopefully use it positively to excel academically and as a person in year 13 and further on in life.

So, here are a few lessons that I have learned along the way:

Be yourself

This first lesson applies especially to people that have moved schools to go to a new sixth form or college. You will certainly meet new people, make new friends and maybe even form new friendship groups. My advice for this would be to be yourself. Theoretically, at the start of the school year, you can really reinvent yourself and start presenting yourself in a way that reflects you as an individuality. When going to sixth form, I feel as though you can really be who you want to be without being judged. In school before, everybody had to wear the same uniform, study the same subjects, have the same hairstyles etc. Whereas in sixth form, it’s an opportunity for you you to express your individuality and differences to everyone else. With being yourself, you will automatically have a happier lifestyle and positive outlook on things as you won’t have to worry about conforming to social norms.

Stay in contact with old friends

Staying in contact with old friends is so important. These are likely to be friends that you have had friendships with for years at your previous schools. It wouldn’t make sense to loose contact with them simply because you don’t get the opportunity to seen them as often as you used to. Your old friends will also be great for when you’re feeling down and need somebody to talk to. They are the friends that will know you better than any of your new friends that you have made. Furthermore, they are likely to be the ones who care the most about you, so letting go of those particular old friends would be a silly mistake.

Let go of old friends

Yes, this is a complete contradiction to my previous point. However, when moving to sixth form, you will need to let go of some old friends. My advice would be to loose the ones that don’t support you as much as you would like, the ones that have a negative outlooks on life and the ones who were only your friends because they attended the same school as you in the first place. These “friends” will no longer benefit you in life and as savage as it may sound, you will have to cut them off at some point.

Your mental health is important

Mental health is always something that is brushed under the carpet. It’s rarely ever spoken about for no logical reason what so ever. Yet, your mental health/state is probably the most important thing that is going to get you through year 12. Being able to grow as a person, learn new things and deal with the workload will be so much easier if you are in a good mental state. Having a huge work load can undoubtedly cause stress and if you are one of those students that is able to keep a positive attitude all year round then I definitely take my hat off to you. With that, just remember that your well being is important and it isn’t something that should be ignored. I advice discussing your problems (if you have any) instead of hiding them away to try come across as strong. It’s also okay to feel down or cry. Take a day off sick if you need to. But remember, you’re not the only one going through the same thing and many have been in your position before. You’re not alone.

Don’t feel obliged to get into a relationship

By all means make new friends, have a crush on one or two people but don’t feel as though you need to get into a relationship. If you feel as if you have found someone that you can have a future with then by all means get into the relationship (but don’t rush it). I would also advise not to get into a relationship for the sake of it. If you know it’s right then go for it. Besides, boys/girls ain’t shit.

Time management

Year 12 has been the most challenging year whilst in education for me so far. I would definitely say that time management is crucial. Time management will determine on whether you hand your homework/coursework in on time, whether you get your revision done in time and whether you are doing equally as well in all of your subjects as oppose to failing one and getting A’s in another. Try and stick to a schedule. I myself do athletics at a high level outside of school which means that I have to train/compete several times a week.  Sticking to a schedule is honestly the best way to get your work done in time. Wiring a to-do list will also be very satisfactory once everything is ticked off.

These were just a few lessons that I have learned over the past 11 months that can be used as tips for anyone going into yer 12. Hopefully, I will be able to go onto year 13 and learn many more lessons and use past ones to my advantage.

Is self love important?

Throughout my teenage years, I’ve never really thought about what it means to love yourself. We live in a society where the majority of people are seeking for someone to love but nobody legitimately loves themselves. Self love, belief and confidence are all so important for yourself. Yet, are we ever encouraged to take a step back and really think about loving ourselves before anyone else?

Putting yourself first isn’t always a bad thing. In theory, we should be looking after ourselves before worrying about others. Self love is essentially a part of healthy living and it is clear that it is something that we, as a society are lacking with depression rates being higher than ever.

Feeling fearless of embracing yourself for who you are shouldn’t be shunned. Just as feeling content with your appearance shouldn’t be considered narcissistic. If taking a selfie makes you feel good, then take two selfies. Loving yourself will only help you live a much more positive lifestyle that you will be satisfied with. Self love and confidence is now so rare that it is being considered as a skill and that really isn’t the way that it should be.

So, everyday from now on, look at yourself in the mirror and say “you’re doing amazing sweetie” because that’s how we should be feeling about ourselves.

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