First World Problems

May 17 2014

As I advance through my High School career as a teenager, I'm subjected to a plethora of expectations. Most of these are negative stereotypes of what teenagers are supposed to be: rude, dumb, and with no respect for others. These intrigue me as I don't think I fulfill the first two expectations, and so when I see the old lady or nice couple cross the street to avoid my slowly advancing mob of friends as we walk down a street to dairy queen during lunch, making the most of our combination of free time and disposable income that most people tell me I don't appreciate enough. I tend to think what I'm supposed to feel. Do I get angry? We have no reason to be intimidating but most people see us as so, and it could be because we are so concerned about what impression we make on our other teenage friends that we loose sight of trying to fit into that illusive box of normal for the rest of the world, but I don't quite think thats it. Do I sympathize? We are taking up the whole street, and a mob of anyone be it teenagers or disgruntled workers is something that most people avoid for good reason, the mob mentality is a frightening thing that doesn't regret or think until the morning after. Although at the end of the day there is nothing I can do, I can't change the past, and I unfortunately lack the telepathic communication powers of Professor X. As for the third one, that stumps me. How does one know if they don't have the proper respect for something? It reminds me of when I am packing for a trip to some relative that I apparently met once when I was three, and am assured that they are family, even though the only communication I've ever had with them is the christmas cards and infrequent comments on facebook pictures saying something along the lines of "Oh he is so big, I remember when he was just this tall." I'm packing this bag without a list and know that there is something that I am supposed to remember to get, but how can you remember a thing you have forgotten? So I leave without it, and when all is said and done it turns out it wasn't that important anyway. But respect is different and it's hard to gauge how much I am supposed to have for someone. Someone like my dad, who has not done anything to change the world, but has the dedication and love to raise a child. He is someone I respect, but am I supposed to respect him less than someone else? Am I supposed to hold more respect for someone who has done something great but I have never met? There is no hand out to tell me these things, although it seems like everyone expects me to have one, and it's even harder to gauge the amount of respect I am supposed to give because I tend to get less just because of my age. It kind of reminds me of the studies on the effect of sugar on children. (Really interesting, but I can't link anything so you will have to find it yourself, sorry!) These studies show that even though sugar has no effect on the brains of children, when parents are told that their children were fed snacks with a bunch of sugar in them they act a lot more obsessive over behavior than the parents who weren't "informed" about the snacks. And even though neither group of children actually ate any sugar, when asked to describe how their children were acting the parents who were told that they did used words such as "troublesome" and "difficult", the study shows that the effect is purely physiological, and is caused by the children acting how they think they are supposed to act, and also the parents having this massive placebo effect when judging behavior and disciplining their own children. This is similar to something called the label theory, which admittedly I am less knowledgeable on. From what I know it basically states that the very act of treating something like they are going to do something, will make them more likely to do that thing. Whether thats acting hyper and troublesome, or being calm. From being stupid, to being an overachiever.
There is no life advice in this email, and I don't think I'm really in a position to give that kind of advice when I am struggling to figure out my life still, but to quote the immortal words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other!"

- Some 16 year old kid.
[email protected]
Portland, OR

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