26 March 2011

"Children don't know what real stress is!"

This statement, and many other similar ones have been coming up around me a lot lately. From message board conversations, water cooler talk at work, to family and friends at home. I'm going to go on a long, and possibly incoherent, rant about why this is fucking bullshit. I'm running on little sleep, and typing this during my lunch at work. If it seems like I am not holding a thought long enough, bouncing around too much, or not staying consistent... I really don't care.

Maybe I'm weird in not thinking back on life and seeing sunshine and rainbows in my childhood. Perhaps something is broken in my brain that keeps me from glorifying what it was like to be a child and teenager. Was my childhood so bad that I fall outside the statistical average the adult population? I don't think so.

Whatever the reason, I'm thankful for it. As the brother of several teenagers and now the father of a baby that will one day be one; I'm glad I'm not another adult telling them they don't know what stress is, or that they have it made.

It seriously pisses me off when people say that.

How can people so easily forget the hormonal changes they were going through that made life so Goddamn stressful? Or the fact that they had no experience in dealing with the stresses of every day life, and fitting in socially was more difficult and necessary than when you are an adult. You have to do it to survive as a child. As an adult, you have the option of changing your environment to find more like-minded people. As a kid you are stuck with the people in the town that your parents chose, and you have to deal with it until College or at least when you're old enough to strike out on your own.

Let us not forget that as a minor, you do not have the same freedoms that an adult has. You cannot just up and leave the classroom you are in because the people around you are horrible (anyone that doesn't know how cruel children and teenagers can be, has obviously never met a teenager or child, and was probably raised in a lab deep in a German bunker). You cannot go out for a drive whenever you are stressed and need to get away (even when you're 16 and 17, you have a curfew in most states). Making money to buy the things you want to buy is damn near impossible. Especially when you have parents that refuse to allow you to get a job, or that say your grades (I'll rant about why I think the importance people put on grades is bullshit later) aren't high enough to work (even though working a steady job will prepare you for adult life more than straight A's ever will. I know I am not the only one here with a GED that is doing MUCH better than my straight A peers from High School.).

I would also like to point out to the people that say these things to children and teens, that any stress and responsibilities you have now, are the direct result of the choices that YOU made. The majority of a teen and child's stresses are out of their control. Many of them are ALSO THE DIRECT RESULT OF CHOICES THAT YOU/THEIR PARENTS MADE! So don't go telling them they don't know what stress is, when they are having  to cope with your bullshit life choices. They don't need you telling them they have no right to complain about the things they have to deal with because of you.

Adults are the ones with little right to complain about anything. Oh, you have a car note and mortgage to pay? Did someone force you to buy a house or car? No? Well then, why are you complaining about something you chose to commit to? What's that? You have a job you hate? Did you do everything you could to get a job you love? Relationships and children got in the way, did they? So you chose to have those things before you had reached the point in your life where you could work a job you love and afford a relationship and kids. Sounds like a problem with your priorities. By the way, getting pregnant is not an unforeseen circumstance. Getting arrested for a crime that you actually committed is not an unforeseen circumstance. Refusing to pick up a book and educate yourself on subjects that will help you get ahead in life, and talking to people that can help you make connections in the field of your choice, is laziness on your part and you have no right to complain that this was not handed to you. Odds are pretty high that you are in the situation you are in because you decided to take a quick job that you thought paid well at the time, because it was easier and faster than working your ass off for a few years to get the job you dreamed of as a child. Do not hate on a child for still dreaming. Encourage them to do what you didn't, and actually achieve their dreams.

The older we get, the faster time flies by. Time is relative, and the more times you do something, the less it feels like it takes. An example would be making an hour drive somewhere. The first few times may seem like an hour or longer, but after a while, it starts seeming shorter and shorter. Our days, weeks, months, and years are affected the same way by this repetition. Keep this in mind the next time you feel like you've had a long week, and then roll your eyes at that teen that said they know what you mean, because they had a long week to. Their long week felt twice as long as yours did. That means they are going to feel that stress twice as long, mixed with the hormonal changes that makes it difficult to rationalize what is happening to them (not that different from a pregnant woman). Twice the stress for twice the amount of time. They should be rolling their eyes at you.

I'd like to go back to something I said previously about experience. More than anything, this is what makes being an adult much easier than being a child. Experience. This does not mean that you automatically know more than anyone younger than you, because that is total bullshit. What it does mean, is that you have gone through the same stresses more often than they have gone through their stresses. It would be damn near impossible to have not experienced them more. With this experience, comes the ability to navigate and prioritize better (though some people never learn to do this). You are also given more and more respect by others with each passing year. By the time you are an adult in your 30s, you've probably had to deal with most of your stresses many times over. You know if you fall behind on bills, which ones to pay first, which ones to call and work out a later plan with, so on and so forth. You've probably had a few relationships, so you know how to cope with a break up, or how to transition from couple to friends with ease. You aren't learning to do this for the first time. You've likely had multiple jobs and know how to interview, ask for a promotion/raise, or even identify jobs that you will enjoy over ones that you'd hate but sound like they'd be fun when you read about them. With each passing year, these things get easier and easier. This is why so many "mental illnesses" are ones that people "grow out of." After a while, you learn how to cope with it to the point that you don't know it is still there. A child is still learning to do these things, and you patronizing them does not make it any easier. It just makes them feel like they are pathetic for feeling that way.

What I'm getting at is when you tell a minor they don't know what real stress is, remember that you don't know what the fuck you are talking about. You're so caught up in your own bullshit (that you brought upon yourself) that you have either forgotten what it was like to be a kid, or you are too self absorbed to believe that anyone could possibly feel like you do or worse. You're being an asshole, and you need to stop.