Why Teenagers Are Mindless Followers.

Why Teenagers Are Mindless Followers.

A Story by Ashley
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Just a thought.

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To conform is to abide by the rules. It could be to heed tolerated societal norms. It is quite frequent for us teenagers to follow certain trends in the society that we live in and these could include music, fashion, and material items. Every couple of months a new trend is presented to us and we scramble to buy them as if the apocalypse was near. If we were to stray from these “norms”, it could potentially lead us down a path where we are outcasts. Now, it may seem like I am making this over dramatic, but society’s influences are indeed strong and a teenager’s self-esteem tends to be quite fragile at this point in life.


A child that is nearing the exciting peak of being a teenager will gradually realize that it is not as welcoming as they initially thought. These children have been raised with a variety of interests, and they grow to believe that being yourself is how you can fit into the world. Because they have such a broad knowledge of all the things that interest them, they have many, larger friend groups that they can share their interests with. They are constantly talking about the many things that they have in common, without the fear of being judged by their peers. Once they reach their teenage years, they eventually grow insecure of themselves and their self-esteem levels grow low.


The influence of this generation presents ideas upon teenagers that I personally disagree with. Young women are being affected by the media around them advertising models that are shown as slender, wearing heavy make-up to conceal their acne scars or blemishes to give the illusion of flawless skin, perfect hair… these models show the concept of perfection as it should be and these young women strive to reach that goal of being perfect. These advertisements keep creating an unrealistic image of how women should look. Most of these images are photo shopped, therefore giving the impression that the model is like an ethereal goddess.


The effects of society's influence shows that there is a clear majority of young women who have distorted ideas on how they should naturally look like and this brings them to more vulnerability. These bring out negative effects that could potentially become detrimental to the health of an individual. The endless hostility of their peers lowers their self-esteem and their body dissatisfaction could possibly bring some eating disorders on the table such as anorexia or bulimia.


Young men are also susceptible to social criticism. They are taught the concept of being a “real man” in all their stoic, athletic glory. Being strong, independent, tall and logical as well as athletic is what young men should be. Falling short in one of those meaningless categories results in the threat of being called harsh nicknames that don’t define who they really are.


They are also constantly worried about their meticulous fashion sense, their hairstyle, how many girls they are able to snag within a week…all to impress their peers to be accepted and to look like they belong. They are often expected to make more than enough money to support their families when they are older, magically fix anything that is broken and be the more emotionally stable one in a relationship, where they are expected to offer solutions to any problem. Most young men are perceived as strong so when they are reaching desperate measures in terms of being able to control their emotions, looking for help often portrays weakness. Males are four times more likely to die from suicide or to be enveloped with depression because they do not allow interventions of any kind, therefore, they are more likely to complete a suicide attempt.


Our society, at this point, symbolizes a prison that haunts teenagers every day. Looks, intelligence, and age are merely pawns to a much bigger issue which is that we are constantly affected by this symbolical prison in little or big ways. Some of us may be in denial. We constantly reassure ourselves that we are original. That we are not lost in ourselves, lost in how we want to present ourselves to others and that we do not want to follow the unrealistic expectations that are set before us and addressed to us daily.


I can confidently state that some teenagers do not particularly want to abide by this society’s rules but they only do so in fear. Now, I’m not saying that all teenagers do not like following these rules, but I know there are some who are being forced to because they do not want to be affected by critical comments from their peers.


But why are we such mindless followers? The answer is in the question itself, we are mindless. We do not generate our own original ideas and therefore it’s as if we don’t have a mind of our own. We are all generic human beings if that is the case. None of us are too daring to be different because we fear the isolation and the scalding criticism from others.


But, on a more psychological side, it all has to do with how our brain develops. "Synaptic pruning" is a process that involves our prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is accountable for decision-making, organising, having an expressive personality as well as examining social behaviour. "Synaptic pruning" causes the loss of grey matter and as that is happening our neural pathways " white matter that contains a bundle of neurons that connects distant parts of the brain with each other " are accelerated with myelin. This process occurs because it needs to get rid of the wasteful neural connections and strengthens the relevant connections, like in pruning a bush.


Since the development is accelerated, beneficial/relevant connections are present for adulthood. This also seems to be why our perceptions of society and attitudes towards certain significant groups, events or objects change quite quickly. We always feel the eyes of our peers on us even if they are not actually looking at us. Becoming more self-conscious has made us more aware of what people may think about us. 


The solution to this problem is to see ourselves how our peers could see us, therefore noticing our flaws or imperfections where we find new ways on changing them to the point where we are like chameleons in a forest.


This opens more doors within ourselves to insecurities and vulnerabilities. Attempting to fit in makes us crave love and more independence. Putting it like that, our intentions are really pure. We are protecting ourselves from unnecessary pain and criticism, but yet...our actions are also unnecessary.


Being our own, unique self is a true privilege for our emotional and physical well being. During these teenage years, the greatest advantage of all is that we are unmasking ourselves and discovering who we are. We learn to accept our true selves, the one that we kept locked up in another mind, being ignored while our true self blooms in a gloomy light, wanting to be noticed.


With the illusion of "perfection" shrouding our sight dissipating into a void in our minds, we become genuinely happy. Without the constant nag of what others may think, we attract many close friendships that have unbreakable bonds and we do not have the feeling of being a "fraud" and having the constant fear of being exposed of it. Without the influence of what others think of us, we are able to make better decisions for our own well being as well as the well being of others because we are thinking of ourselves. 


We do not think of how we are meant to think or how we are meant to do or approach societal issues. We do not constantly judge those who look like "outcasts" and for this we maintain a clear reputation, we earn a higher level of respect and, more importantly, we inspire others.


Relieving ourselves of the stress and pressure of fitting in with others helps us become more aware of our own emotions and more sincere with being sympathetic and empathising with others. We are gentler on ourselves and we become sound enough to reach our goals and listen to our intuition.


I can personally say that being myself is one of the best choices that I have ever made and this was because I was able to accept my own personal flaws. I stand out instead of blending into a group of teenagers and I am seen, heard and known by others around me. I am claiming my own identity and I speak the truth about myself and that action in itself is an essential aspect of a sound mind and controlled emotions.


To conclude, like what an unknown person said: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Us teenagers should take the extra mile to be who we are, even if we know others would disagree and judge us for it. But what is the point of being made uniquely when that we would want to do is just simply copy others?


We should be unique, not meek.


© 2017 Ashley



Author's Note

Ashley
I'm not sure if posting something that was solely meant for school is okay, but I wanted to get more opinions about this from a wider audience and not just my English teacher's. I do take constructive criticism...

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Added on November 7, 2017
Last Updated on November 7, 2017
Tags: thoughts, opinion essay

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Ashley
Ashley

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand



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