I’m having a quarter-life crisis. I turn 20 in less than six months and the fact hangs over me like a death sentence. It never used to bother me, for a while I was pretty excited to be an “actual adult” without the teen tag. Now all I want is to go back to 13 and work my butt off.
What inspired such a melodramatic crisis I hear you ask? (You didn’t ask? You just want to get back to your coffee? I’m going to tell you anyway.) Successful teens. Despite the fact it’s not their fault, they have a tendency to make everyone both sides of 20 feel like they’re underachieving. We should feel happy for them- Great! You’re amazing! You sailed around the world on your own, and recorded a multiplatinum selling album, saved orphans in Sudan and Karl Lagerfeld is your BFF! It’s hard not to look at your own life and feel a little bit dull.
With the rise of social media, successful teens are seemingly everywhere. It’s easier to more gain contacts and exposure than ever before; Justin Beiber was discovered on YouTube and now he’s a multiplatinum selling recording artist, at 17. Tavi Gevinson was a mere 12 when her blog Style Rookie was really making it big. Since then she’s been front row at fashion shows and started her own online magazine. I have no idea what I was doing at 12 but I sure as hell wasn’t writing eloquent online posts about kooky fashion. I was probably laughing at socks.
Whilst the workaholic teen is making money and having a lot of fun, I do wonder if perhaps they’re missing out on their childhood. Young people are under enough pressure as it is to feel mature beyond their age and you only get one chance at being a teenager.
What happens if they peak too early? It’s not hard to look at child actors whose careers petered out and notice there is something perhaps a little desperate about them. In a TV documentary about child actors, the woman who played Pippi Longstockings spent a lot of time saying, “I was FAMOUS, I was a HUGE STAR”, which is slightly depressing. It’s not a fate I would wish upon anybody.
It seems successful teens are nothing new. In 1817, my personal heroine, Mary Shelley was only 19 when she penned Frankenstein, one of the most famous stories ever written. For her I feel nothing but respect, she was insanely talented and a brave woman. Teen superstars are everywhere and they’re not going away. Maybe we should spend less time comparing our failures to their successes and actually get on with life.
[Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fimoculous/6139433362/]