Lauren Mulcahy, 15, is a Year 10 student at Stamford Queen Eleanor School. She is studying for her GCSEs and her favourite subjects are English and photography. Lauren enjoys writing and hopes to be a journalist when she is older...
I don’t want you to think that I’m just another kid, complaining about how hard it is to be young. I know it’s hard being an adult too, having so many responsibilities. You finish your education and have to find yourself a job; earn money to pay taxes and bills; there are household chores; garden maintenance; pets to look after. Many adults even have elderly parents to care for. As soon as you have a child you’re having to make decisions right from day one! Choosing names, schools, the best ways to protect and discipline them.
So, with all that ahead, I know there are many great things about being a teenager – like choosing our options for our careers, believing that we can achieve anything! Spending all our free time with our friends and having a laugh. We get to be lazy and wear what we want, not to mention the endless gossip! Despite all these great things, it’s still not easy.
What you have to remember when you look into a child’s eyes is that there is always a story behind them. Whether we are smiling or frowning, laughing or crying - there’s always a story. Unless you take the time to look a little closer, you will never get to know what we are really like.
Peer pressure from other teenagers can be huge. Whether it’s fashion, drinking or smoking, we can often get involved just because we want to be included and accepted. And there are bigger things too.
One of the biggest things a child has to go through is a divorce. When your parents split up it can feel like one of the worst things ever. You feel so confused, empty and lost. As children we often blame ourselves even though it’s rarely ever our fault.
Splitting yourself between two families and accepting a new stepmother/father and their siblings is one of the most challenging things ever!
Worse still, some children go through years of abuse from either family members or bullying at school. This makes us feel unwanted and different from the rest, you start to believe you’ll never fit in anywhere with anyone. It traumatises many children, scarring them not only physically but emotionally too.
Exams place a massive amount of pressure and stress on teenagers. We all want good careers when we leave school and keeping a check on the nerves can be difficult if you’re worried about your grades. Often our parents expect great things of us and we worry we won’t be able to live up to these expectations.
Obviously, some of these are extreme examples, but these things go on a lot more than you think, and they affect more children then you could possibly imagine. And the more ‘trivial’ things? Well, they’re not ‘trivial’ to us when we go through them. I’m sure they weren’t ‘trivial’ when you went through them either! How difficult do you think it is when we’re having to work hard in class learning about algebra, Shakespeare and plate tectonics when we have all these other things just boiling up inside of us! Hormones often make us angry and frustrated! They make us say and do things we normally wouldn’t and we can’t explain why! We know deep down inside that parents and teachers only want what’s best for us, but we can’t always see it that way. Adults can, at times, patronise us and assume that we don’t know anything just because we’re young. Parents often think that, because they’re older, what we feel or want isn’t important. But it is.
We don’t want sympathy. We just want you to understand: we not all drug-taking hoodies who mug grannies on the street corners. Most of us, deep down inside, are good honest kids. We make mistakes, but that’s how we learn, by life’s lessons. If we’re given the right support and helped to make the right choices we can do well. Often when we’re judged without being given a chance it makes us frustrated. We just want to be understood and sometimes it’s hard for older people to remember just how testing times can be when your growing up.