Popular culture depicts being a teenager as having a closely wound group of friends with whom you constantly party and go on adventures, all while finding love and making memories you’ll never forget. Depicted in “coming of age” movies and songs is the idealization of the teenage years.
While I have experienced moments like those, my years of being a teenager are not solely made up of such things. At first, this was something I was fine with. I had my fair share of the stereotypical teen experiences, some meaningless and others quite profound.
But the feeling of contentment began to fall once the romanticization of being young grew everpresent. I could be watching a movie, listening to music, or scrolling through Tik-Tok, yet I am still hearing of how important these years are, and how I should soon be looking back with nostalgia of these times.
Popular culture places a glowing emphasis on adolescence. As much as I love hearing those songs and watching those movies, I must admit that al too often it entails stress.
This emphasis puts lingering thoughts in my head. What if I’m not experiencing these things that are supposed to define my youth? Am I spending it in a way that will someday lead to regret?
I am constantly reminded of the fleeting time of my childhood. With college approaching, I begin to worry that I am going to regret how I am spending the time I have left. There’s only one year left, and so many of the apparently defining teenage events portrayed in the media I have yet to experience. With the importance and constant attention lavished on adolescence by the film and music industry, I can’t help but feel that I am missing out.
Truly, there is very little representation of normal teen life in most outlets. I understand why dramatizing certain events like Prom and graduation is necessary for works of art to be entertaining. However, the glamorization of every aspect of a teenager’s life is should not be needed for a movie or song to be compelling.
Some moments of my life do make me feel like I am inside of a coming-of-age movie, but they’re rare. It is simply not realistic that I will spend my teen years feeling like this on most days. I am perfectly content with that fact, but occasionally the idealization of being a teenager in popular culture causes me to worry that maybe I shouldn’t be content with such a life.
I won’t stop watching and listening to shows and songs about teenage life, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that they have a negative effect when it dawns on us that our real lives are not replicas of the lives the media has imagined for us.