Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

Speaking Out: Create experience that screams ‘you’

By  Angelica Vecchiato, Youth Speak News
  • January 13, 2021

Dinner table conversations at my house often turn to the fond reminiscing of the teenage life of my parents.

The youthful memories my parents narrate are captivating, daring and adventurous. Their tales leave me questioning: Will I ever be able to experience a time of youth like the one my parents so longingly remember?

This thought is one seconded by many friends. There is a lot of pressure, specifically directed towards adolescents, to experience the “perfect” youth, one synonymous with their parents’ teenage years.

Movies, social media and television all play an equal part in establishing the stereotypical notion of an “ideal” teenager, oftentimes devising unfeasible standards for how youth are allegedly supposed to live.

Especially now with the onset of the second COVID-19 lockdown in Ontario and across the nation, which has stripped many key experiences and milestones of life, such as the opportunity to go to school normally without masking or social distancing, youth unfortunately feel like their coming of age does not stack up to their parents’ experience.

Adolescents can strive to manufacture a teenage experience that rivals their parents’ and even the ones they see on television, but ultimately it will fall short of idealized expectations because the adolescent life they are striving to attain is not their own, but somebody else’s.

While certain aspects of the glorified teenage life of one’s parents might certainly seem appealing, they were confronted with challenges just like youth of the modern day. Yet it was through overcoming their dilemmas that our parents developed themselves as people and created everlasting memories.

Today’s youth must stop trying to live in ways that have already been lived before. They have to live uniquely and boldly in their own way.

The pandemic does indeed deny cherished traditional experiences, but there are exclusive doors and possibilities through technology which were not accorded to our parents.

The pandemic presents an incredible opportunity for character building and virtue fostering as youth must face challenges of an unprecedented scale.

Catholics and Christians are encouraged though the example of Christ and numerous saints throughout the ages to attain the best versions of themselves. Although we all have faults and vices, it is the attainment and longing for what is good that brings us toward Christ and ultimately to Heaven, our ultimate destination.

Facing adversity that takes shape in the form of lockdowns and restrictions can allow us to attain virtues that sharpen our character, propelling us to live saintly lives like the late Blessed Carlo Acutis (1991-2006).

Although developing one’s character might seem boring and difficult to adolescents — and unlike the idealized lives they see on social media — it offers the ability to change the world, which certainly makes for a very memorable teenage life.

Although youth grapple with a strange reality, we can capitalize on the situation to optimize what we could and what we can become with what God has given us.

There is an ocean of possibility, and as many have said before, “the world is your oyster,” so collectively as youth, as adolescents, let’s not allow a pandemic to stop us.

We are on the cusp of coming into society and our ideas can influence the world to change for the better, so let’s live our teenage years in a way that we’ll remember for years to come — let’s become saints.

(Vecchiato, 16, is a Grade 11 student at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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