Stereotypes of Teenagers
Being a teenager doesn’t just define your age, it classifies you into a pre-determined stereotype where people see you differently; you are no longer “that sweet Jenny girl who lives down the street”, you are now a reckless teenager who is clawing at a chance to rebel or throw a raging Project X worthy party. In our immature years ranging from around 12-18, teenagers are generally seen as being rowdy, irresponsible, and sneaky, and generally speaking, these assumptions are pretty accurate, based on how many times we’ve been grounded from our parents.
However, not all adolescents fall into this classification of being “young, wild, and free”; I am the exact opposite of what someone my age is expected to be- I pride myself on being responsible, trustworthy, and just a better person all around. I try my hardest to stay out of the typical stereotype of a “teenager”, and I think I do a pretty good job at it. One thought that is generally associated with the facade of teenagers are parties- everything about them. Throwing parties, attending parties, getting wasted at parties, getting caught at parties, or maybe even getting arrested at parties.
Whenever a boy or girl at my school says something like “my parents are going out of town for a week on vacation”, nine out of ten times the responding question will be along the lines of “are you going to have a party? ” or “nice, what address can I tell people to come to? ”. So, adolescents like to have fun, but usually it’s to a dangerous extent. Even dating back to middle school, I can recall old stories of Halloween parties getting busted by cops because some parents forgot to lock their liquor cabinets, and the kids wanted to get a little rowdy.
But that’s just an innocent eighth grade party- today, you can take it to even more extreme levels with the high school parties, which almost always includes marijuana or other deadly drugs. So why do teenagers like to participate in these activities, when they normally only end in turmoil? Throughout my high school career, I have not attended many parties, which I do not have a problem with. I am not the kind of person who wants to publicly humiliate myself by getting drunk just so I can have a “good” time.
I have witnessed numerous accounts of teenagers being sent away to private schools, or being thrown out of the house by participating in these “typical high school activities”. But why do you need narcotics and liquid courage to be a fun person to hang out with on a Friday night? You don’t, you’re just fooling yourself. Another place teenagers are stereotyped and looked down upon is in a working environment. When something goes wrong, the excuse is “oh, they’re just a teenager, they don’t know any better”.
But some of us do know better. There is a popular television show on the TLC network called Restaurant Stakeout; this show is a prime example of teenagers, taking advantage and putting forth a bad effort at their work place. Willie Degel is a well-known respected restauranteur and restaurant owner. He goes in to struggling restaurants and places hidden cameras in the work place where he watches the employees as they handle their customers and shift responsibilities.
Most of the time, the cameras focus on the poor performing employees, such as the ones who yell at customers, throw things at them, spill food, treat people with disrespect, or lie to their managers. More often than not, these irresponsible workers just happen to be teenagers. But is anyone really surprised at this behavior? After all, you would never see the oh-so-mature adult treating another adult with straight up disrespect, would you? Well certainly not without good reason.
I work in a bakery and have witnessed my current boss, Dee, handle situations with the same kind of mindset that a teenager would have. When a customer was rude and impatient with one of my co-workers and caused too much unnecessary drama, Dee thought it would be nice to give that customer a taste of her own medicine…by throwing a cake right in her face. Was this the mature thing to do? Not necessarily, and certainly not from any rational adults point of view. But logically thinking, all of these “rational adults” were once “immature teenagers” at one point, right?
Maybe we never do grow completely out of our child-like mindsets. The only thing worse than grown-ups acting like teenagers are when teenagers fulfill the stereotype that is thrust upon them. I used to work at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, where I saw incorrect handling of problems and situations by my fellow teenage coworkers. When someone was unhappy with their meal, the employee wouldn’t handle the situation themselves, but instead hand it off to someone else, which was usually me.
I didn’t always enjoy dealing with the angry guests, but it taught me how to handle unhappy people in a positive way, which has helped me now in my current job and the other social aspects of my life as a whole. Teenagers have mastered the art of one thing: lying. Well, for the most part anyways. We think we are so good at lying that we can hide almost anything from our parents. Sometimes, this works. Other times, you get caught in your lie, and you end up getting in lots of trouble. My mother, for example, is excellent at telling when I am fibbing to her, and she will call me out on it.
This has taught me to just be an honest person, and not to do things that would result in me lying about where I am or what I am doing. Other teenagers at my school however have mastered the art of lying and sneaking around, and basically can get away with anything if they wanted to. If a boy wants to sneak out to go buy alcohol and get drunk, he knows just what to tell his parents to make them believe differently. If a girl wants to go to a party and hang out with a guy her parents don’t approve of, she just has to say the usual “I’m sleeping over at Jessica’s tonight”.
These lies and dishonesty are what helps create the stereotype of untrustworthy and dishonest teenagers- we think we can get away with everything and we are invincible, when in reality we’re just adolescents who don’t know any better. Why have teenagers changed so much over time that now being classified as a “teenager” automatically has a negative connotation with it? I’m sure when my parents were teenagers, they were probably looked down upon too, but not in this much of an immature and irresponsible light as adolescents today are.
Why have the times changed so much that because I am a teenager, I am automatically looked at as being an irrational, disrespectful, sneaky party animal? When I am not like that at all? I wouldn’t say I am trying to completely break the stereotype for my age group, but I am definitely trying to change it so people don’t view me in that negative way. So those two little words that fit together so perfectly are going to be attached with a negative connotation for many more years to come, as the stereotyping of teenagers are just going to become deeper as the actions we do become worse and worse.
As we grow older and move on to have children of our own that will grow into these crazy adolescents, where will we draw the line with them? Why kind of people will they turn out to be? What will be considered socially acceptable for their age group by the time they are in high school? If we keep heading in the direction we are now, it worries me to know what our future generations have in store. Falter