Why We Need to Stop Idealizing Our Teens and 20s

When you look through your most-watched film and TV choices (hi there, "Watch It Again" category on Netflix), there's a good chance that one factor connects the vast majority of titles: the main character is supposed to be either a teen or girl in her 20s.

While there's a good chance the actor who plays this character is solidly over the age of 30—or at least 5 to 10 years older than the fictional person they're playing—it gives off the idea that those of us who do fall into the target age range for that role are supposed to be living a life somewhat like the experiences we see on the screen.

The reality check here, though, is that these cinematic stories are just that—stories. So no matter how the main character looks (be it probably a lot older and more Hollywood-like than anyone actually the supposed age), it can be easy to try to compare ourselves or feel like this is a sort of standard we need to live up to. You know the tropes: teen girl dating a guy with eight-pack abs, girl in her early 20s who can somehow afford a gorgeous studio apartment in a big city all by herself, person who gets their dream job straight out of school or meets the love of their life on the first day of college. Real life, however, looks a lot different—but that isn't a bad thing! With all of this said, it's simply time that we stop idealizing our teens and 20s and start actually enjoying them for the hot mess that they are. How do we do it? Well, it starts with:


No Longer Measuring Our Success to That of Others

You know what they (and by "they," we mean Theodore Roosevelt) say: "Comparison is the thief of joy." This one proves true in more ways than one, especially when it comes to comparing our successes and life experiences to those of others—whether they be real or fictional. Just because your cousin or older sister graduated top of her class, got married to her high school sweetheart or moved to the "big city" straight out of school doesn't mean you need to do the same! Nor does it mean that, by not doing any of those things, you're in any way behind in life or failing at anything.

Shutterstock: Disappointed sad woman holding mobile phone while lying on bed at night

(via Shutterstock)


Knowing What You See Online Isn't the Full Story

Everyone curates the images they convey of their life to the rest of the world, whether that be through social media or simply in the stories they choose to tell when you're around them. That means that what you're seeing and hearing is only the highlights, so who knows what struggles have been going on with them underneath the surface? This is exactly the reason why social media can be toxic when we don't try to understand the way it works—basically, no one's life is that perfect. Maybe they faked that vacation, or maybe they have a wealthy family member funding their entire existence or just know how to make things look and sound better than they actually are. No matter what, try not to compare and just focus on your own goals for now instead.

Shutterstock: Woman viewing photos on her phone

(via Shutterstock)


It's Okay to Not Have It All Figured Out

The biggest myth that gets told about our teens and 20s is that we need to have it all figured out. From love to school and career and so much more, we treat this time frame like it's all smooth sailing from one phase onto the next, when in reality, life is full of speed bumps and unexpected setbacks. Once again, this isn't a bad thing. The challenges don't have to be debilitating, they just help us realize what it is we really want and that it's totally okay to be a hot mess while you're young (and always—come on, no one actually has everything figured out in life no matter how young or old). So live your life like the main character you are and embrace every experience along the way; it makes you more interesting than any well-written character in the media anyway.

Shutterstock: Enthusiastic girl with curly hairstyle eating pizza. Indoor photo of glad caucasian young woman in red pajama posing in bedroom with fast food.

(via Shutterstock)


Need a little help embracing that main character energy? We've got you. Just click HERE to read about how to feel like the main character of your own life.