We aren’t invincible: Appreciate. Learn. Be grateful for life.


By Alexandra Madsen


Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. We all know this, but sometimes this isn’t at the forefront of our minds. We as teenagers can forget that we are not invincible, that the things we do to our body, and the way we live our lives will someday catch up to us, even when we aren’t ready. Right now you may think things don’t matter or “you don’t care” about anything, but someday you might.

Throughout the day I hear people saying “I don’t care,” “I’m doing as little as possible to pass,” and “I’m just trying to get through the year” more often than I should. Not caring about things is sad. Who are you if you’ve already given up at the age of 17? And why don’t you care? Teen angst is one thing, but a complete lack of ambition isn’t “cool” in my opinion, it’s depressing.

It is cool however, to be passionate about something. Be it equality, dancing, politics, writing, music, chess or anything in between. Being interesting is cool. Wasting your life and not living it to the fullest (sorry this sounds a little preachy) is unfair, because many people do not have the same circumstances as you. We already take so much for granted as students and as people; we owe it to ourselves to care about something other than getting home from school and sleeping.

Teenagers have long been known to be almost a whole different species. When my mom and I disagree, she loves to throw articles like NPR’s The Teen Brain: It’s Just Not Grown Up Yet  at me to let me know “being a self-obsessed teenager is sort of OK, because it’s not your fault, it’s your brains fault.” What we don’t realize is that our brains ARE different. We think differently. It is proven that teenagers are more self-centered than adults and tend to not think about the effects of their behavior on others. With the amount of “selfies” teenagers take on a daily basis, its no wonder we get so much flack for being who we are at this stage of life. It is the “developmental stage we are in, and we are not necessarily capable of thinking about the effects of our behavior.” My mom doesn’t actually say this to me, but yes, I understand that being a teenager does make me more susceptible to forgetting about the bigger picture and how I treat others around me. In other ways it doesn’t. I don’t want to have to blame my brain for who I am at this stage of life, I want to be a good person on my own, and I don’t think that is too hard to accomplish.

The thing to consider is this: in spite of budget cuts, teachers’ strikes, ACTs, college applications, and anything else that teenagers often complain about, we are getting an education. We have teachers that care about us. We have opportunities that others in the world will never see. Some young people are working in sweat shops at the age of 14, or getting shot for speaking their mind, not to mention even dreaming of an education. If you really think your life is that bad pick up a copy of “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.” Or listen to NPR’s This American Life: Harper High School Pts. 1-2. Stories like the one written about Harper High School, can make you realize things like this are happening somewhere very close to home. We live in Chicago, yet there are kids who are walking to school in the streets instead of the sidewalk, for fear that a rival gang might see them and jump them. The hardest part is that most of the kids don’t even choose to be in a gang, but because they were born into a certain “territory” whether they like it or not, that gang claims them. These kids are facing actual problems in the world, like being forced into situations and certain life styles, while others with much less to deal with are still complaining about being “so done with school.”

As teenagers we need to challenge this idea. Open your mind. Appreciate your parents, your life, the things you have, and the country you live in. We are the lucky ones. We are fortunate to have been born into a time and place that affords us great privilege, equality, education, freedom and opportunity that others in the world can only dream of.