End of the road

Mill Stream Staff

     Something wicked this way comes… the end of the school year.

     The stench of teen angst wafts through the halls like a warm summer breeze—but grosser. Thick with distress, the atmosphere of school hallways weigh down with dread and vape juice. Students’ lifeless bodies drag their leaden feet to a class they don’t want to be in, surrounded by people they don’t like. They march on.

     In times as trying as these, it is often hard to maintain optimism and even sanity. So don’t.

     Despite the growing online culture of sadness being “cool,” out here in the real world, sadness is neglected. No one wants to see it.

     We tuck our emotions away in our back pockets because any and all signs of vulnerability are equated to weakness. We only talk about struggle when there’s some awe inspiring tale of coming out on top, overcoming the trials and tribulations that plague us, whatever it may be.

     But talking about struggle when you’re going through the motions is uncomfortable. It’s hard. It can even be humiliating. We tend to focus on the pretty parts of struggle: the rewards, the payoff, the life lesson, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—but in this situation the rainbow is really a fire-tornado.

     To add insult to injury, teenagers are often ridiculed for their struggle, whether that be at school, at home, or even fleeting romances with that boy you sat by in English. These aren’t “real” world problems, despite the fact that this is very real to us.

     Teenagers today are navigating a world that is entirely new. We grew up in a time of rapid expansions in technology—if you think about it, we’ve seen society go from home phones to iPhones in a very short period of time. We’re at the forefront of an age unlike any another. And to put it plainly, it’s scary.

     Heidi Stevens, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, put it this way: “We didn’t hand these kids a simple world. We handed them a global stew of outright violence and brewing resentments and environmental degradation and economic insecurity.”

     However, it’s important to note the frustration you are feeling is not being felt alone. We’re a lost, hodgepodge mess of sleep-deprived, angry babies that have been handed a bomb then been told to defuse it––as if we know how. It’s easy to get lost in the tangled emotions that come with this confusing world. Navigating your way with others is your best bet to get through it.

     The emotions you feel now are valid. And The Mill Stream implores you to feel them strongly. It is not your job to be happy—happiness should not be your goal—but relish it when it comes around. Find happiness in the sound of your friends laughter or in the kindness of stranger or in the camaraderie of a gym class.

     But allow yourself to feel the weight of sadness fully. Don‘t repress your emotions, especially the negative ones. Give yourself a break. Process your feelings. Recoup. Understand that in life if you’re not making mistakes, you’re 1) lying and 2) not living.

     Realize that life goes on, and the situation you are in now and the decisions you make regarding it do not define you. You got this.