It Takes Grit and Gumption Just to be a Teenager in 2013

Employers and government ministers, yes I mean you Nick Hurd, are expecting just a touch too much from our young people, I fear.

Qualifications as well as a list of life skills the length of my arm, skills that many fully grown adults fail to ever achieve.

And according to Mr Hurd, it’s because our teenagers don’t have these ‘soft skills’ of articulation, grit and self-control they’re not getting jobs.

Being a teenager in 2013 is not easy.  Just getting through high school and surviving to age 18 is a huge and important life skill that’s oft ignored by those in power who’ve had everything handed to them on a plate.

It seems to me Mr Hurd and employers want young people who’ve volunteered, travelled, excelled, got straight A’s – the all-star, American movie type teen with a smile as wide as the Hudson and a grating ingratiating personality who’ll happily intern for a year for free because daddy will bankroll their stay in New York.

You’re right Mr Hurd you won’t find many British teens like that.  There are some but they’re usually only found within the confines of Eton or other such establishments.

Our teenagers and young people are real.

They are socially awkward, some are even shy.  Some are even gobby and arrogant, but they’re still socially awkward because they are still young.

Our teenagers may not be the best dressed or have the best manners or be the best at articulating how they feel but by god they are hardworking.

And do you know how I know they’re hardworking and have grit and determination?  Because I know they have hopes, dreams and fears.

And their biggest fear is they’ll turn out like us judgemental grownups and they’re working their hardest to prevent that.

Forgotten What it’s Like to be Young

By their very nature and age young people are a boiling mess of insecurities, inadequacies and hormones.  To survive that intact is to conquer the world.

And I think, Mr Hurd, you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young.

Think back…what were you like at 18?  No doubt a gangly uncoordinated heap of self-doubt and hormones arrogantly trying to make your mark on the world, while at the same time wishing to hide from that same terrifying world.

If, our minister for civil society (what on earth is his job?) had to face even half of what our young people face today he’d fall at the first hurdle.

Every day our young people hear from the media how useless they are, they’re told they’re lazy no hopers who will have no future in today’s economic climate unless they’re super high achievers and they’ll be drowning in debt that they can’t pay back by the time they’re 21.

Then there’s social media screaming daily in their faces that everyone’s life is better than theirs.

They’re judged for what they do and what they don’t do.  And they’re faced with unattainable images of perfection and think they have to strive for that.

Bullying has become insidious and invasive.  For today’s teens there’s no switching off from it, no running away or opting out: the bullies are everywhere.

Turn on the TV and there’s Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay disdainfully informing some poor unfortunate that, quite basically, they’re shit and deserve to be humiliated for the general public’s amusement.

Switch onto social media and the bullies torment from their anonymous castles built on hurtful words of spite and hate, threats spewing forth from their keyboards.  Turn up at school to face those same bullies who judge them for what they’re wearing, not wearing, for not being good enough, for being too clever, not being clever enough, for just being different to them.

Being under 21 truly is the survival of the fittest.

What’s to Love about Young People?

Do you know what I love about teenagers?

Their fearlessness and sense of adventure.  And their belief that they’re indestructible.

I love that they’re not yet tainted by the shit this life throws at you even when their lives have been shit.

They’re not yet disillusioned with life.

They have hope.

Our young people are passionate and obsessive, loud and expressive, loving and caring. They think they’re invisible and they believe they’re invincible.  And they are hysterically make me laugh out loud funny.

And when you really listen to them they are fantastic conversationalists. I love having teenboy’s 19 year old friends round (all of whom work and study and have hope for a better future). They easily and happily articulate their thoughts, opinions and beliefs.  They’re open and honest and engaging and our debates and discussions are a thing to behold!

They’re not perfect but who is?

Teenagers are very like toddlers – nurture them, praise them, believe in them, encourage them and they’ll soar.  But if you put them down, tell them they’re not good enough they’ll wilt and give up.

Do you know what I love most about teenagers?  They believe their dreams can come true.

Well they do, until someone like Mr Hurd tells them they’re not good enough.

Something has gone wrong but it’s not with our young people.  It’s every single adult that’s judged them and found them wanting.  They’re just kids stop putting so much pressure on them. 



About mumtoteens

mum to two teens and a toddler - not a easy mix tbh. The oldest is 18, the middlest is 13 and the baby is 2 and we live a life full of love and chaos. View all posts by mumtoteens

6 responses to “It Takes Grit and Gumption Just to be a Teenager in 2013

  • cathmarshall

    Great piece! Seems like a familiar strategy of ministers to place blame elsewhere to distract from own failings.


  • ritesforgirls

    Spot on! I love this.

    I often hear people appreciating how young children bring a sense of wonder back into their lives.

    Well, teenagers bring me many other precious reminders:

    To take myself and my feelings really, really seriously.
    To put myself first
    To fight for my right to live how I want
    To care a great deal about my friends
    To question authority
    To seek excitement
    To experiment with how I look
    To wonder who I am
    To take risks
    To sleep until I no longer feel tired
    To eat what I really fancy
    To court new friendships
    To test limits
    To act on impulse
    To learn by doing
    To go for what I want
    To wing it
    To giggle
    To try new things
    To contemplate life’s injustices
    To feel incensed by life’s injustices
    To believe that a better world is within our grasp


    • mumtoteens

      I love that!
      We do so often hear how amazing it is to see the world through a toddler’s eyes, but a teenagers view of the world is pretty damn amazing too.
      I think I’m going to do the “sleep till I no longer feel tired” one!!


  • survivoruncensored

    I think the majority of teenagers are great! I have one myself. I think we forget how difficult it is being one and particularly for teenagers today, who are living through one of the worst recessions. The press is ‘so’ negative towards them, it makes me sick. I have enclosed a great link from my blog site which is really worth the time viewing.;search%3Atanya%20byron


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