Society sometimes views teens as careless, disrespectful, lazy, angry and self-absorbed. That is what many of my teen students have told me anyway.
Recent events locally and nationally have shown otherwise. Where does that societal view come from?
Fresh out of childhood, as you grow and change, you see that our magical, perfect world is … well, anything but that.
There is lack of trust, parents don’t always stay together, growing up to “be whatever you want” is harder than it sounds, we use our environment relentlessly for personal gain, people are treated unfairly due to the color of their skin and the list goes on.
Whatever happened to “and they lived happily ever after”?
By the time you finally start to figure out what’s really going on, you may feel betrayed and it seems easier to focus on the bad in our world than the good.
Thoughts of “I didn’t choose this” and “how am I supposed to change anything?” might be familiar and a bit overwhelming.
Yes, it is no secret that the world can be a pretty messy place, and it has been that way for a long, long time. But there is much reason for hope.
The world would be worse off if people never stood up for their rights or what they believed in.
Though the media tends to emphasize the negative, we have also seen inspiring acts of fairness, truth, bravery and compassion.
There is so much good in our world! Let’s focus more of that which we want to see.
Take some time to learn about individuals and organizations that have made a huge positive change in our world: you may be surprised at what you find. And there is much work to do.
If you experience anger or feelings of injustice, you can choose to use it to create positive changes. Show society that teens are much more – don’t play into negative expectations.
Become an advocate for a cause you are passionate about, join others who are relentlessly and respectfully making a difference.
It is the responsibility of those with a voice to stand up for those who are being silenced and underrepresented.
We have those freedoms in the U.S. and it is up to us to use them.
This is a big task and it can be hard to know where to start, but there are clear steps you can take.
No. 1: Take it one issue at a time. Maybe start with something that affects the local community, set goals, and go from there.
For tips on the next steps visit http://www.dosomething.org an amazing website dedicated solely to teens making a big difference. Find your cause.
Don’t underestimate the power of your voice. Begin shaping the world the way you want it one action at a time.
It is already yours.
Dibby Olson is the youth program coordinator for Chaffee County Family & Youth Initiatives.