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On Being a Teen

[Edit: Nearly two years after writing this, I realize how quickly I've grown and thoughts have changed over time, I feel quite differently about being a teenager now! I'm pretty sure I'll say this again next year...]

Someone asked what it feels like to be a teenager in 2014. I'm 17, and I can say, being a teen is something I like as much as I dislike:

  • There are way too many opportunities today in 2014, but way too much competition too. The idea of being "above-average" has been drilled into our heads, it seems like a normal average person can get nowhere today. There's a bundle of expectations from us kids. I have self-set expectations too. Seeing so many people do brilliant things at this age makes me want to be like one of them too.
  • I feel connected. Technology arrived the right time for our generation, in my opinion. I am Indian, but the whole "global citizen" concept means a lot to me. The internet has helped me connect to people I would've never known otherwise.
  • I don't know if I'm too young or too old. Or both. My opinions aren't taken seriously just because I'm not old enough. At the same time, I am expected to have answers to questions like "What do you want to do in life?". I think I'm responsible enough to make level-headed decisions by myself, and when I need help, I will ask for it.
  • I am grateful. Today, there are teens whose primary aim is to be able to eat twice a day. There are families today that struggle to send their children to a proper school. I am grateful because I was born to a family that could give me everything I wanted. I am grateful because my parents trust me enough to give me the freedom, to let me stay away from home so I can learn. It's not a feeling I can describe easily.
  • Gadgets. Technology obsession is real. I just find it hard to digest that every single kid on the train plays games on his/her phone, I didn't even own a personal cell phone till I was 14.
  • Boredom. My parents often tell me how they didn't have even half of the resources we have now. How can one get bored when they have so much to do? We have PS4s and phones and television shows and friends and what not, still we find ourselves getting bored and having "nothing to do".
  • This point is a little more Singapore-specific: I see kids here joining classes of all sorts- enrichment classes, math tuitions, Mandarin classes, everything, at the age of... 6!? Parents are very concerned (kiasu). Everyone wants to raise a prodigy.
  • Hormones suck. The pimples, the mood swings, the cramps... ah, puberty.

  • Dealing with changes. I started university a couple of months back. Life here is very different from what it was back at home. I could write much about this, but the main takeaway is, as a teenager, there is a lot going on in my head right now. Every year, I'm changing. I'm coming out of the own little bubble I had for myself.

    At this age, one learns a lot about how the world works, generally. I know there's a lot that is wrong, that is unfair, but I am still naive enough to think it can be changed.

Being a teen is both liberating and stressful at the same time. All in all, I like being seventeen and wouldn't want to trade it for being older or younger.


  1. It's not the age which plays the dominating role. Talk confidence into people and then see how you get heard all the time, cheers!

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