When I was seven years old, I declared to my mother that I was never going to be a teenager. After all, teenagers were bad, caused trouble and looked weird. My mother simply responded with her gentle smile asking me “Is that so?” “Yes, that’s so!” I exclaimed more firmly as I began to feel the silliness of my statement sink in and felt a glimmer of appreciation for my mother’s easygoing reaction to my bold statement. Now I’m 15 and there is no denying it; I am a teenager. The most amazing thing about being a sophomore in high school is that I am not at all like the troublemaking teens depicted in the media and on too many TV shows. I consider myself moral, respectful and usually mature. In fact I believe that most of my teenage friends are ethical, kind and sensitive to the feelings of others. I believe that most teenagers are good people who genuinely care about our country, our families, our friends and our world.
Children who grow up with the influence of respectful and caring adults will grow to earn that respect. I appreciate that I am blessed with parents who love me when I have success and love me all the same when I experience failure. I have teachers who like me and my friends and want to get to know who we are as individuals. I believe that my teachers choose to teach because they genuinely like young people and they feel a passion for providing the best educations for their students. My teachers challenge me with academics without loosing site of the need for balance in my typically busy high school life. Like me, most of my friends enjoy school and we respect and appreciate our teachers. We thrive on heated class discussions and the ability to respectfully express our views without fear of punishment or, worse, of humiliation. I believe most teenagers appreciate the opportunity to express themselves honestly and enjoy the process of learning. Many of us are excited about the opportunities in high school and hope to find a passion of our own to follow through life. The teens I know tend to have very full lives and yet, still find time for giving to others. Most of my friends volunteer regularly, read the paper daily, think their parents are sometimes pretty cool and are willing to give up a seat on the train for an elderly passenger. I realize this image of teenagers is not as enticing as that of the sullen, detached, angry teen, but I believe most teenagers are moral, respectful and mature young adults hopeful for the opportunities that lie ahead to create a positive impact on the world. I’ve got to go now; I’m off to BOK Ranch to give horseback riding lessons to a very cool group of kids with disabilities. I will be giving lessons along with 20 other teenagers who, like me, enjoy spending most of their weekends giving to others. These are the teens I believe in.
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