Kids! Stop worrying about stuff and start enjoying your life!
The incidence of mental illness among teenagers has soared in the last decade. Of course it could be that we have simply become more vigilant. Or could it even be the rise in the number of new conditions, such as ADHD, OCD, Narcissism and Teenage Anxiety.
Whatever the cause, there can be no doubt that we now live in a society where it’s OK, even fashionable to be pathetic. If someone as worshipped as Robbie Williams can be pathetic, then why shouldn’t we all? Celebrities love to spend time at The Priory Clinic, a well-known establishment providing care for celebrity alcoholics and drug addicts. By the time they sign in, they’ve sold their story of despair and heartbreak to the tabloids. If they’re lucky, news of their vulnerability will have made the glossies.
Members of today’s snowflake society, particularly teenagers, seem to empathise with celebrities who find themselves, by accident or design, in a state of pathos. It is my belief that the young are inflicting upon themselves a mirror image of the failings of their role models and that this is having an effect on young people’s mental health.
This might explain why one in four young women aged 16 to 24 self-harms or why a quarter of women in the same age group suffer from anxiety, depression, panic attacks or any one of a variety of phobias. Overall, around a fifth of women of all ages claim to suffer from one of these conditions, as do 12% of men in the same age bracket.
But young people should be carefree, enjoying life’s voyage of discovery the way we all did when we were that age. The new vogue for mental illness is ruining what should be the happiest days of youngster’s lives.
Maybe life is more competitive these days, but even so, worrying about whether your boyfriend is cheating on you, whether you will get on with people at your new job, or if you will be able to save enough for a deposit on a home is nothing new. We had all these worries before! So the question is, what has changed?
One answer is that for youngsters, body image has taken on an importance of unprecedented proportions. Another is that social media has put more pressure on youngsters to compete. Show me a young girl’s Facebook page that doesn’t have at least one pouty photo of her doing a passable impression of a trout, and I’ll be astonished.
All this pressure serves to undermine kid’s self esteem – try as they might, they will never be as handsome or successful as David Beckham or as wealthy and famous as Kim Kardashian, whose only discernable talent is showing off her unfeasibly large behind.
Youngsters have lost the knowledge that life is not a bowl of cherries. Life is full of setbacks, unfairness and injustice. There has been a fundamental shift in the way parents, teachers and other authority figures treat the younger generation, preferring to mollycoddle the young, bathe them with a soothing balm of love and syrupy ideas of entitlement. Now everyone can have their very own poor me party. What happened to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and start all over again?
Learning to stand on one’s own two feet is the key – and the shortest route – to self-respect, self-esteem and self-worth. Young people shouldn’t compare themselves to others because they will be setting themselves up to fail. I tell many of my clients – you are a unique person; you are your own person; you have a wonderful life in front of you; you can take ownership of your life, it belongs to you, and so on.
Even so, youngsters need more specific pointers – they need to recognise and understand their responsibilities. They need to know how to save and take care of their finances. A bit like Dickens’ Mr Micawber in David Copperfield – ‘Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 pounds 19 shillings and sixpence; result? Happiness! Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and sixpence; result? Misery! I learned that while I was still at school!
So here are some words of wisdom for young people:
Debt creates anxiety, which in turn exacts its own terrible price – outstanding bills go unpaid, envelopes pile up, unopened. There is no shame in not keeping up with the Kardashians – saving is more fulfilling in the long run! Watching those numbers in your bank account increase every month is actually very satisfying! Effectively managing income and expenditure means learning to be selfish – looking out for number one is OK – really it is!
Don’t waste precious moments worrying about girlfriends and boyfriends, but the amount of time today’s young people spend worrying about it has vastly increased. All that grooming, exfoliating, plucking, tanning, dyeing and starving, is, in the end, a waste of time. Girls and boys are not important! They’re all as flawed and insecure as you are! Most important for girls, don’t give it away! Keep those knees firmly stapled together until you are absolutely 100% sure he’s right for you! This is going to take some self-discipline and abstinence could last for years, but it will be worth it in the end.
Love yourself, but don’t waste your youth worrying about how much you weigh, what clothes you should wear, or how you look. It’s what’s inside that matters, and anyone who can’t understand that isn’t worth the effort.
These so-called supermodels and other types of Kardashian you read about in the magazines and gawp at on t’Internet are not real! They are all part of a cynical ploy to get you to part with your money! Trust me! You are better than that false world and you can rise above it if you want to – you’ll feel better once you do it!
Whatever happens, take no notice of what people say about you on Facebook! Only bad people leave bad comments. Don’t let other people’s negativity make you anxious. They’re the ones with the problem, not you!
No one can hurt or harm you without your conscious permission. So just tell them to fuck off! Try it – it’s really empowering! But don’t fall into the trap of trying to get back at them, because then, you’re just bringing yourself down to their shit level.
So… stop worrying and enjoy your life!
Above all, remember how unique you are.
Copyright Andrew Newton 2016. All rights reserved.