Monday, October 20, 2014

Because I Said So

My best friend, Esme, isn't on social media. She misses party invites because she isn't on facebook. She's not caught up with her eight closest friend's social lives because she isn't on instagram. She's never been wounded in the crossfire of a twitter fight.
She's missing out. So she had a conversation with her mom that went something like this:
Esme: I want to decide whether or not I'm on social media.
Mom: I don't want you on social media.
Esme: No, that's not what I care about. I want to not be on social media if I don't want to.
Mom: Um...okay. So you don't want a facebook.
Esme: That's not the problem.
Mom: don't want to have a facebook because you don't want to have a facebook.
Esme: Yep! You're catching on!
Mom: Okay. Do you want a facebook?
Esme: Nope. Thanks, Mom!
To an outsider, this conversation probably seems ridiculous. But I've had a million just like it.
 Teenagers are so rarely given the opportunity to decided what we want to do. We learn to be content with why. I have most of the same social, political, and religious views as my parents. But I want to make sure I happen to agree with then instead of blindly following an example. So when I'm forming an opinion on, say, the gay marriage debate, I pour over articles and posts and flamewars on the subject before I make up my own mind. Adults can win any argument with four words: "because I said so". It doesn't matter how well we word our rebuttals, how reputable our sources, how erudite our vocabulary. Its insulting on the best days and soul crushing on the worst. That's why we need agency. It's the next best thing to authority.
Even though we agree on most things, I still get snapped at for saying things like this.
Mom: I think you should keep your grades up so you can get into BYU.
Me: Well, that's a fun coincidence. I'm not going to obsess over one college, and I'm going to continue getting good grades so I can get into BYU, a school I like because it has a good English program.
Mom: Be nice to me.
Oh wait, I forgot. There are two cards.
The whole point of life is to learn how to think and act for ourselves. The teenage years are so critical because, for the first time, we have opinions and beliefs instead of wants and needs. If we wait until adulthood to express our opinions, do we really qualify as adults?
Don't spend your whole life stressing about being nice. Its impossible not to step on someone's toes. If you're to offend people, offend them for reasons that matter. Grow up. Develop your own moral code. Decide what kind of person you want to be. And if that person matches up with what your parents, well, goodie for them. You just took your own path to get there.


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