By Shreya Nair, Year 9K
With the recent election in the U.S., a lot more people have been speaking up about how they feel about the results. It can be anywhere—verbal discussions, online, but people won’t hold back on their opinions. In an ideal world, anyone would be able to express their opinions. Others learn to respect them and move on, even if they don’t necessarily agree. Unfortunately, when it comes to more adult topics opinions made by a teenager or someone not of the expected mature age, any sort or statement is made invalid.
“You’re just a kid.”
“You’re not old enough to tell what’s wrong or right.”
“What you say doesn’t matter.”
Most people assume that because we are younger, our minds are easily manipulated. Whatever is seen becomes truth to us. A lot of the time, they assume anyone who is still in their teens are incapable of understanding such serious issues and be able to come to a justified decision. Granted, in some aspects, it’s true. As kids, we are usually surrounded by our parents beliefs. This can’t be helped, of course—we spend almost the entirety of the first quarter of our life with them, so it comes off as no surprise that we adopt their mannerisms or even their likes or dislikes. The real difference begins when we start to gain more independence and meet new people. Naturally, we start to find clashes. Realising that there are other opinions from the ones that we’ve centered our lives so far around is scary, but inspiring, as it gives you a chance to find your own. In some cases, yes, the children do end up sticking to what their parents say because even when presented with other facts and views, they feel like what they’ve grown up believing is right, which is perfectly fine. A lot of the time though, when faced with something new, we learn to adapt and absorb what we understand and appreciate in order to formulate something of our own. Our opinions may not be a stark contrast to what we’ve known, yet it won’t be the exact same, with aspects of it changing from time to time. Sure, these opinions are entitled to change over time, but then again anybody’s can, no matter your age.
The point is, the opinions and views of youths have often been overshadowed due to the assumed lack of knowledge behind our theories and ideas. No matter how much you’ve been exposed to, the sad reality is that unless you’re a certain age your opinion will likely not matter in the eyes of many. There’s a saying by Margaret Mead, a famous anthropologist. It goes, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” Children are the future. When our parents move on, our generation are the ones who have to improve the world so that it satisfies our wants and needs. We’re going to need to teach our children how to do the same thing; how to build and formulate their ideas. But if we’re not given any chances to prove ourselves, how are we supposed to continue?
Sure, teenagers may be occasionally moody and unstable, having rash, uncalculated thoughts in the moment. However, it’s important that we have the confidence in ourselves to believe that we can make a difference. We are, in fact, the leaders of tomorrow, no matter how cheesy that sounds. If we aren’t taught how to think, what is our future going to end up being like? Politics is a good example. A lot more millennials have taken to the Internet to express their opinions on Trump’s presidency. Some, of course, are simply harsh and brutal, just lashing out and the new president of the U.S. without any form of solid argument. But, a lot of other teenagers have been collecting evidence, doing their research and explaining why they feel unhappy or unsafe in the country they live in. They produce reasonable complaints. We have hearts and genuine interest to make a change, yet we’re denied the chance to actually do so. We’re seen as aggressive, rebellious kids who are just trying to make life harder for others, too young to have serious opinions and thoughts about the world around us.
Mozart was 5 when he first started composing music. It took him almost his entire lifetime to get noticed and appreciated, all because he was too young to be taken seriously. But now, those same compositions that people laughed and scorned at due to his age are loved and admired by people worldwide. Will teenagers be taken more seriously? Or are we going to have to wait until we’re dead to be respected? Either way, no matter who listens, always remember that your opinion is valid, and that there are people who care.