Over the past decade, and even the past few years, teen anxiety and depression rates have risen exponentially. Whether it’s because of school, social media, social standards, or just life in general, teenagers have a lot to carry around everyday on their shoulders. Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental illnesses can almost all be connected to one single factor: society as a whole.
The world we live in today isn’t one that accepts everyone as they are. We claim to be inclusive and non judgemental towards people that are different from us, but that just isn’t the case. Whether we mean to or not, all of us have judged someone for doing something, wearing something, or just acting different than we think is “normal”.
“Normal” isn’t a word that everyone defines the same way. We all have our different opinions on what “normal” means to us. It might be that being straight is “normal” or dressing in a cool way is “normal” or having a boyfriend or girlfriend is “normal”. But nothing anyone ever does or will ever do is normal.
Society today makes it extremely difficult, especially in regards to teenagers, to be yourself. Every corner turned creates a new challenge that we have to figure out and overcome by ourselves. Sure, there may be therapy and other ways to get help while facing these challenges, but for the most part, we’re on our own.
Every single day we subconsciously think to ourselves that we need to be acceptable and kind and approachable, even if we aren’t normally any of these things. What society has deemed as good versus what society has deemed as bad has shaped the lives of young adults and teenagers everywhere. What society deems “cool” versus what society deems “weird” is what defines us as a person.
Conforming to social standards, such as what social media models and celebrities are showing the public, is what prevents the growth of self confidence, self worth, and happiness. Celebrities and models and “influencers” (whatever the heck those even are) are giving people the idea that to be happy or successful or pretty they have to be like them. Or they have to look or act like them.
These social standards are reinforced by something as minor as the ads people see when scrolling through social media or even watching a commercial or TV show. We see ads for FitTea and waist trainers and ab workouts that are supposed to make us skinnier and prettier and happier. But in reality they’re just telling us that we aren’t enough as we are.
TV shows don’t show enough diversity in their programs which tells people of minorities or people that have been marginalized that they don’t deserve representation on television. It shows that people don’t want to see them, they only want to see the white men who make a lot of money and who are in shape and good looking. No offense white men, don’t get butthurt.
Another major contribution to the already damaged amount of self confidence and happiness that teenagers have is their parents. No offense to parents everywhere, they’re great, but sometimes they expect a little too much of us.
Between the pressure to do well in school and make something of ourselves, and the high standards that some parents hold their children to, it’s difficult for said kids to actually reach a place where they’re happy with themselves.
The point is, the way society, and even parents, have been telling teenagers, women and people of color and different sexualities that they aren’t good enough as they are, is what causes depression and anxiety and even suicides. The way society has put pressure on groups that don’t meet social standards is what demolishes self worth, and self worth is one of the most important things in regards to happiness.