Lauren Lee is a 17-year-old gal from southern California. She coaches in a national Debate league, is managing editor of the Family Literacy Journal, and wants to one day have a career in either Law or Politics. Lauren is also a teen spokesperson for the The Great American “No Bull Challenge”, devoted to anti-bullying. She strives to use her rocky past to support and help other teens who have experienced, or are experiencing the same things she did. Follow/contact Lauren Lee at The Washington Project.
Everywhere we go, teens are portrayed as getting wrapped up in the ever-consuming influences of pop-culture. Our lifestyles, friendships, romances, and morals are shaped by what we see on TV or read in gossip magazines.
The sad part? We’re buying into it.
We are being bombarded by the same message of complacency over and over. The most successful form of persuasion is repetition. If you hear it enough, you’ll start to believe it — regardless of how ridiculous it is. Once again, that sneaky technique is at work right under our noses, and we don’t recognize it — that, or we don’t really realize how serious it is. Hey, our culture is telling us we can be lazy bums and still be successful! Why not try to get away with it, right? We’ve heard so many times that living the teenage dream is all there is to strive for when we’re “young and beautiful.” Why waste our pretty years?! It’s time to party!
We’ve lost something. We’ve lost our past. Now, I’m only 17 years old. I don’t have much of a past. But my nation does. And my nation has an awful lot of pretty cool people who have lived before me, who did some pretty mind-blowing things. For some reason, it’s become “uncool” to look at what these “old guys” have to say about life, but I’ve found it to actually be pretty enlightening.
This summer, I’ve let go of a lot of things. I’ve let go of the silly dramas, and gotten my head out of the teen realm that so many of us get used to during the school year. I’ve stepped back and asked myself, “where is my perspective on life coming from?” Unfortunately, I’ve realized that that perspective has been tainted to the extreme by the superficial things in life that seem to be our entire world as teenagers. Everything from obsessing over clothes to relationship dramas to family problems – I’ve experienced a lot of it. When you’re in the middle of it, it seems like that’s your whole world.
But it’s not.
Our society is shortchanging themselves by expecting teens to be toddlers. They want to keep us entrenched in the celebrity-obsessed, star-struck mindsets, so that we don’t grab hold of the knowledge found through history, from people that really mattered and made a difference. I’m here to challenge that mindset.
That’s the point of the Washington Project.
For too long, I’ve lived within the expectations of pop-culture. Although they promise freedom and happiness… what you really get are chains and shackles. Truth is found in the past. The keys to freedom are hidden in the lives of some of the greatest Americans that ever lived. We are the future, whether we like it or not. Looking at this year in hindsight, I realize that I was meant for so much more than surviving high school drama. We are meant for more. As young America, we are destined to become leaders, motivators, and teachers. History offers to give us a shot at being truly awesome change-makers. I say we take it up on that offer.
You can make a difference by bringing this message to your schools and communities. Please visit http://www.the-washington-project.com/ for more information on how to become a contributor or apply to be on staff. In addition to a great resume opportunity, this is your chance to make real change happen.
Consider joining me in the Project.
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