“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
I suppose it was inevitable that, considering my blog is titled 1timothy412girl, I’d speak about that Bible verse at some point or another. As it would seem by the looks of this passage, negative stereotypes about young people are an age old problem, dating back to the time of the apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy. On almost a daily basis, you’re likely to hear some sort of negative stereotype about teenagers, including but not limited to: Stupid, selfish, rude, and rebellious. Being that I’m a teenager myself, I find these negative stereotypes somewhat disheartening; Especially in light of the fact that I know plenty of teenagers who do not fit these long held stereotypes. This blog is not intended to be a rant, but merely information about teenagers and encouragement to those who are, like myself, in this particular stage of life. One thing that I’ve found interesting is that statistically, less teenagers are engaging in high-risk behaviors.
“Since the recent peak rate of 61 percent in 1997, there has been a fairly steady downward march in alcohol use among adolescents,” said Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator. “The proportion of teens reporting any alcohol use in the prior year has fallen by about a third.” (http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/12/16/teen-drinking-continues-to-decline-in-the-us)
Last year, the rate of illicit drug use among children and teenagers 12 to 17 years old dropped to 9.5 percent, down from 11.6 percent a decade earlier, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest national survey. (http://abcnews.go.com/US/drug-drops-americas-youth-rises-50-crowd/story?id=20155714)
Cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped to the lowest levels since the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) began in 1991, according to the 2013 results released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.By achieving a teen smoking rate of 15.7 percent, the United States has met its national Healthy People 2020 objective of reducing adolescent cigarette use to 16 percent or less. (http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0612-yrbs.html)
Perhaps the 21st century American teenager is paving a new path in a positive direction. It would seem by these statistics, that teenage life looks different than many people would guess.
I cannot speak for every teenager, but I know that for me personally, a big part of my “teenage experience” has just been trying to figure out who I am. I think that the legendary Christian singer Michael W. Smith sums it up perfectly with the lyrics to his song Place In This World: “Looking for a reason, roaming through the night to find my place in this world.” Trying to find your place in the world as Christian teenager can be a bit tricky at times. A lot of times, Christian resources and community tend to focus on adult issues, such as marriage or finance. Resources aimed specifically at teenagers often focus heavily on what not to do, rather than what to do. There have been times that it’s seemed that I couldn’t have my own voice until I was an adult, but that’s simply not true. You may be at a stage of life that’s often looked down upon, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have the capacity to make a difference, right here, right now. A couple of years back, in 2008, two teenage brothers named Alex and Brett Harris wrote a book called Do Hard Things. I read that book, and I would highly recommend it to other teenagers. They started what has been called “the rebulution”, which is, in essence, “a teenage rebellion against low expectations.” Though that book came out seven years ago, I hope that the message promoted in it remains: Young people have the capacity to do great things and defy cultural stereotypes surrounding terms like “teenager” and “millennial”.
I can think of examples from my friends’ lives as I sit here and write this post. One friend ran a campaign for a local politician last year, another volunteers his time at the hospital, and yet another is on the worship team at her church. All of these people are or were high schoolers at the time of accomplishing these things. Never let negative stereotypes handicap you from doing something to make a difference. You may be young, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t set an awesome example in speech, life, love, faith, and purity.
Dare to break the mold of the stereotypical teenager.