Speak Up, Kid | Teen Ink

Speak Up, Kid MAG

July 8, 2012
By WordsRUs GOLD, Jefferson City, Missouri
WordsRUs GOLD, Jefferson City, Missouri
10 articles 0 photos 18 comments

I've been 18 for half a year now, long enough to know that being 18 is really no different from being 17. Sure, I'm a legal adult, but what does it matter if the government considers me an adult when my parents don't? Turning 18 isn't a magical experience in which enchanted confetti falls from the sky and the old people who used to give you dirty looks at the grocery store suddenly respect you. You're still a kid, still struggling to prove yourself. I'm not an angry teenager raging against authority, contrary to what the older members of society may believe. I simply want to be taken seriously. The greatest prejudice in today's world isn't one of race, religion, or sexual orientation; it's of youth.

My parents say that I can make my own decisions once I leave their home, once they're no longer supporting me. Whenever I try to express my beliefs – for example, that being gay isn't wrong, that a person's goodness isn't measured by how often they read the Bible, that maybe, just maybe, that pregnant girl isn't a sl*t – my father calls me a punk. I wonder, if someone their age said these things, would they listen?

I don't claim to know all the answers, but I do know that adults are usually the ones stating their opinions on television. We live in a world where being older means being heard. Schools don't poll the students for suggestions; they ask the parents. When teachers hold meetings about how to raise test scores, students are never included. We know the answers they're seeking, but how could their students possibly know something they don't? I corrected a teacher once in class and she told me to double-check the textbook. When the textbook said the same thing, it was wrong too. She grades me on my performance every day, but I'm not allowed to do the same. Some might say that those are just the roles we play, but I say equals should be treated equally. I respect her, but where is her respect for me?

Now, I know some kids are rude, immature, and don't deserve to be respected, but so are some adults. That's just how people are. Old or young, we're all the same. We all just want to make the most of our lives. But being older doesn't automatically give one the right to tell those younger how they should make the most of their lives. Feel free to offer advice, share your life experiences, but don't tell me that my dreams aren't worth chasing. Don't tell me that being older means you know what's best for me.

My parents sometimes ask me where they went wrong, how they lost me. They don't know how much it hurts to be told that everything I love and believe in is nothing more than me straying down the wrong path. I want so desperately to tell them that they lost me the moment they thought they knew who I was, but you don't try to describe colors to a blind man, do you?

I want what every young person wants: to be treated with equal respect. Parents wonder why their children don't listen to them. It's because no person wants to be told how to live rather than being asked how they want to live. Teenagers don't rebel just because they can; they're fighting back against a world that doesn't recognize them.

Being 18 should never feel different from being 17. Not because the teenager is still a kid but because they should already be accustomed to being treated as an equal. That's the eighteenth birthday I wish I'd had, the one everyone deserves to have. Inequality should not be a normal part of growing up. After being told you're inferior for years, you start to believe it. And when you finally ascend to the throne of adulthood, you've become like those adults you knew as a child. Monkey see, monkey do.

Well, I have something to say to all the teenagers out there: you're not inferior. You're equal to everyone around you. But most adults don't accept that, so you'll have to show them. They won't ask your opinion, so you'll just have to tell them. Women didn't gain the right to vote by knitting sweaters. African-Americans didn't gain equality by resigning themselves to fate. They fought back. They made themselves heard. Young people have a voice too. But no voice can be heard if it isn't used. Don't be afraid to tell the world that you're here, that you have opinions too, that no one can tell you you don't matter, and that you won't rest until you've earned what's rightfully yours: a say.

The author's comments:
For anyone who has ever been told their opinions didn't matter.

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This article has 5 comments.

WordsRUs GOLD said...
on Jun. 15 2013 at 1:10 am
WordsRUs GOLD, Jefferson City, Missouri
10 articles 0 photos 18 comments
Thank you. It means a lot to me that people are still reading this long after I wrote it. I think I can safely say now that I'm 19 that young people definitey need to make themselves heard. Adulthood is defined by those around us, no matter how much we'd like to define it ourselves. It's sad, but we are tasked with constantly proving ourselves in a world both telling us to grow up and telling us that we're not. But I believe that makes us strong and gives us the power to place faith in our own abilities.

on Jun. 6 2013 at 4:12 am
sempiternal_obsession SILVER, Camden, Tennessee
8 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Imagining isn't perfect. You can't get all the way inside someone else...But imagining being someone else, or the world being something else, is the only way in. It is the machine that kills fascists.”
― John Green, Paper Towns

I think that this is really amazing - you wrote it phenomenally, and it's extremely true. I'm really glad that this was chosen for the magazine, it was perfect for its purpose.

on Mar. 16 2013 at 8:34 am
elisha24 SILVER, Kerry, Other
6 articles 5 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Whats for you wont pass you,
life is like photography, we develop from the negatives
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only thing you have

I really like the message, it was well written too

Macki- BRONZE said...
on Jan. 13 2013 at 10:33 pm
Macki- BRONZE, Fort Worth, Texas
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain;"

This was an awesome article. And I completely agree. 

grrmbl said...
on Dec. 27 2012 at 1:25 pm
I'm not even eighteen anymore, but I still agree with you and this was really well-written. :)