The Danger Of Disregarding Teenagers

It’s just a phase.

When you were between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, you probably heard this at least once a week, and if you were anything like me, it set your fucking teeth on edge.

What your parents meant when they said that, was that what we felt then wouldn’t be how we felt forever and that one day, those things would be far behind us. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. I understand where they were coming from much better now than I used to. They thought it was reassuring, or at least harmless.

I don’t know about you, but that phrase was never harmless for me.

Whenever anyone told me that what I was going through was a phase, what I heard was that my struggle didn’t matter. That the way I was feeling wasn’t valid. That things would be so much harder later on down the line, and I was silly for worrying about anything.

In some cases, yes, all of those things were true. At twenty-four years old, I remember there was definitely drama in my life when I was a teenager, but I don’t remember what any of it was actually about. The thing is, back then, it was everything. I think a lot of people forget what it feels like to be standing on the other side. They’ve already seen the harsher sides of life, and they belittle anyone who hasn’t, before reminding themselves that their world wasn’t always that big. You can’t brush off someone else’s problems just because you’ve seen worse.crying girl

When you’re sixteen and your best friend flirts with your boyfriend, it’s a tragedy. If we don’t listen to teenagers about the little things, then they’ll never learn how to come to us with the big things. They assume everything they’re going through is childish, and then they start to invalidate themselves. I think this is why so many people with genuine mental illnesses suffer in silence. Our teen years are when these problems often start to develop, and if young people can’t count on us, they won’t get the help they need.

So be the one that listens. Be the one that helps.