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It Isn’t Easy Being A Teenager These Days


It isn’t easy being a teenager these days. For starters, your body hasn’t finished developing yet. You’re probably suffering from acne and no matter what products you see advertised on TV, none of them work. Your weak and puny body probably makes you feel inferior compared to Hollywood hunks like Brad Pitt (but you’d never admit it to your mates). If you’re a girl you probably hate what you see in the mirror and wish you looked like the girls in glossy magazines. Oh and you think you’re fat even though you are literally skin and bones (the bad news is you most likely won’t ever grow out of the negative self-delusion).

Worse than the physical aspects is the fact that your brain hasn’t finished developing either. This means you have no empathy – you are incapable of appreciating other people’s points of view. It’s not a deliberate thing, it’s just the part of your brain that figures these things out doesn’t work yet. This is why your parents keep telling you you’re “selfish and don’t think of anybody but yourself” when you don’t think you are. Hint: they’re right, you just don’t have the capacity to see it (and some people sadly never do). You’re also barely in control of your emotions, that’s why you have mood swings and temper tantrums. These emotions are all new to you and you haven’t had much chance to understand and come to terms with them.

You hate school, you hate the teachers and you feel like everybody is telling you what to do and what to think. And worst of all, you think you know it all and it should all be up to you. Your only respite is being out with your mates. Perhaps there’s a comfy bench on the corner of your high street you like to hang around on. Maybe you’ll down the odd bottle of cider or do something harder so your mates think you’re tough. It’s all just a laugh really and there’s no harm in it, you’re just letting off steam.

Except when you’re hanging around with your mates, everybody you see looks at you like you’re a criminal. Just because you’re wearing a hooded top (so you can hide your embarrassing acne from the world) doesn’t mean you’re about to rob someone. But people don’t give you a chance, they treat you with no respect, like you’re scum, like the real trouble makers who wear hooded tops. And after a while you start to act that way, if they’re going to treat you like dirt, you might as well treat them the same way.

You see, what bugs me is that I used to be a teenager. When I see a bunch of them hanging around making a bit of noise, I remember doing exactly the same thing. But apparently Britain is in danger of becoming a nation fearful of its young people. Since adults spend so little time with teenagers in the UK (as opposed to countries like Germany and Italy) they see them as a threat and are unlikely to intervene if they cross the line instead of remembering that teenagers are in fact still just children pushing their boundaries (as children do), instinctively trying to find their identity by breaking out of their parents mould. The thing is, if you just let children do what they want as they grow up, never giving them limits, then they’ll really turn into everything you fear.

Sort of a vicious circle really. I guess life doesn’t get any easier once you’ve grown out of the acne and stopped being a teenager!

Update (July 2023): This article was written in 2006 and looking at the world of 2023, it’s even worse with social media, constant communication and economies suffering from the effects of rampant wealth inequality. I really should write a new version of this but in the meantime, trust me, it REALLY isn’t easy being a teenager these days!

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

20 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I’m surprised you can remember that far back, John! Just think, there are children who have grown to be thirteen years old in the time since you were a teenager… πŸ˜‰


  2. Empathy, pfft if my levels of empathy werent fully developed, I fear what I will be like in the future, breaking out into tears when someone stubs their toe?

    oh and wanting to look like girls in magazines is much the same as wanting to look like anime characters from your favourite show, they are both equally fake and both equally impossible, the difference is anime doesnt pretend to be real


  3. Ha ha, I didn’t mean quite as much empathy as that!

    Good point about the magazines, those glossy mags are totally fake – the women don’t even look like that in the real world, it’s all heavily photoshopped.


  4. Hi, I’m a teen age girl, I was actually looking up something else on the internet and this came up soo i decided too read it. It’s really true what you said about teenagers and the magazine thing. I mean when i look in the mirror i just see my self as being fat, but suppose soo does every other girl my age. Just thoght i would leave a comment. =]


  5. hey. im kelly im 14 but australian. like charlie williams i wasnt looking for this but decided to read it. as i said im australian but we have the same problem here. girls think they are not pretty enough. and adults dont hang with teens that much. but im not like them. i dont care how i look. i like talkin to adults and tehy like talkin to me. i dont do wat they do these days like steal or rob and have bad attitudes. im polite. im old school. i dont like the schools and teens these days. so yeah not all teens are like that. im so old school.


  6. Hmm u r right i dont see many teens who tihnks like you these years. Im arthur and im 15 gonna be 16 in october. I do care about how i look actually even tho i just can’t reach my goal. I got many problems especially with school and the pressure of makin a life changin choice. What i reaaly think is being a teenage boy is harder than being a teenage girl and thats because you have many many more things to take care of way much than girls and thats what makes my life hard.


  7. well all people care how they look some time in their lives and thats mainly throughout their teen life. my times not come yet. i know that. but im slowly changing very early. so im a tomboy. getting a little bit of a girly girl some times. but thats just cause i get bored.

    guys have their own worries. i dont know what they are as im not a guy but girls do know some. as their looks are tough on both sexes.

    ok skool now. i will rite some o=more when i get back.


  8. Um, isn’t this generalising a bit? Not all teenagers are unempathetic, selfish and insecure. In a world where body image is prevelant, self-esteem is low across all groups of society… granted, it might be higher amongst teens, but that doesn’t mean it’s limited to them. A LOT of adults think they’re fat. πŸ™‚ Empathy is something learned throughout the teenager years, so I have to disagree with you saying that teens are incapable of appreciating opinions. Personally, I think drinking is pointless, but again, it’s not just teenagers that drink… young adults drink, middle-aged adults drink, probable people post-adult stage also drink! πŸ˜€ I think with school you get people who hate it, but then you also get people who realise how important it is, and then you get people who love it… that’s the impression I get, anyhow (I’m 15). Point is, this article is only representative of a proportion of adolescents, whether majority or minority, I don’t know. πŸ™‚


    • Ha ha, of course I’m generalising! πŸ˜‰ My point wasn’t really about being a teenager, it’s that people forget that they were ever teenagers and look with scorn at them as though they always have evil intentions when in fact they’re just being teenagers.

      As for empathy, as I say it’s not your fault, that’s the final piece of human brain development. For some people they have empathy from early teenage years, some later and some never do. And I take your point, a lot of people never move past the insecurities and hang ups of their teenage years. But of course there are exceptions to every rule, we’re all individuals after all, and we’re constantly changing. Hey, give it a couple of years and you might change your mind about drinking! πŸ˜‰


      • That’s true. I do take on board your point, and agree wholeheartedly. I’m not talking about the final paragraph (where you addressed the issue), more so the rest of it. I suppose it was just the “you” in the article that made me feel singled out, as if I didn’t have a choice; “since you are teenager, you must have this mindset”.

        The thing with society is that it criticises any group it can get a hold of: it’s not only teenagers that are frowned upon, but also teachers, NHS staff, policemen, politicians etc etc. There isn’t a single group in society which hasn’t been disapproved of in one way or another at some point. Adults do tend to have “selective memories” when it comes to their teenager years, but then so do teenagers when it comes to their childhood years (I don’t know what the point that I’m trying to make here is, actually. :S).

        As for empathy, you’re right. But I would say that not many adults have amazing empathy skills. How many decisions are made about students without them being consulted? How many healthcare workers become desensetised to emotional suffering and death? Sometimes it’s the shred of childhood innocence combined with the beginnings of empathy that result in the most beautiful response of all. πŸ™‚

        As for the drinking, I think you have a good point. πŸ˜‰ But drinking still freaks me out, especially seeing people get really emotional when drunk and their maturity decreasing by about 10 years! But ah well, time will tell, eh? πŸ˜‰


  9. Wow, remarkably told. I am 16 years old, and all that is written is true, not counting figures, on the contrary I consider myself a chur thin. I read at the precise moment when my mother had a fight, now I seem to understand that I must ask for forgiveness. Thank you very much.
    P.S. I apologize for the grammar, since it is the only was capable of a translator, I am not from English speaking countries πŸ™‚


  10. hi, im 17 years old and as you said i feel like everyone is always trying to tell me what to do and what to say and think and it really gets me frustrated and annoyed.


    • i know just how you feel i feel the same the people around me are always telling me what to do and how to do it it gets me so angry all the time xxxxx πŸ™‚


  11. heyy
    yah i kinda agree about the fact that teenagers think about themselves
    im a teenager,15, and i have got the same thoughts too
    but yeah i would like to think bout others too after i have thought about myself but apparently i dont have time to think bout the others because,people must understand, i have got stuff im engaged to and only if i have finished mine, can i think about the others!!
    what is wrong in thinking so?


  12. its really hard being a teenageri should know i am one i am 13 years of ageand i find it hard going to school in a morning because at school it is really hard for a teenager because they can get bullied for the smallest of things like the way you look or for the people you hang around with or what you eat little things like that it is megga hard growing up for any teenager xxxx


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