Young people are forced to grow up too quickly

Craig talks about the impact of responsibilities and making life-changing decisions at a young age

Written by Craig Doyle


It is getting to that time of year where Transition Year students, like myself, have to start seriously thinking about their Leaving Certificate subject choices. While this decision might appear to be small and unimportant to many, it actually has a major impact on our futures. Your decision will affect the number of points you get in your Leaving Cert. This in turn affects what college course you might get if you want to go to college. The number of points you get can ultimately decide your career paths. If you make a poor choice now, your entire future could be negatively affected.

Making decisions that impact your life

This is a rather daunting prospect to me. I find it rather unsettling that at the age of 16 we are faced with this major life decision. I should not be surprised by this as we had to make an equally important decision when we were four years younger. At age 12, I had to choose my subjects for secondary school. Before I was even a teenager, I had made a major life decision. Looking back at these decisions, I really believe that young people are being forced to grow up very quickly.

Constantly preparing for the future

As a primary school student, one of the focuses is to prepare you for secondary school. Once you are a first-year the main objective is to prepare for the Junior Cert. The Junior Cert is designed to prepare you for your Leaving, which prepares you for your next step, be it college, a PLC, an apprenticeship, a gap year, or entering the workforce. Practically our entire young life is set aside to prepare us for the future and it seems that this prevents us from being able to be fully present and to live in the moment. We are constantly told to be “more mature” and “prepare for the future” that we rarely seem to have time to bring out our more childish sides.

Embracing our youth

I believe that embracing our childish sides has many health benefits, both mental and physical. Laughing does wonders for your wellbeing. Childlike playfulness and belly laughs can help you have a positive, optimistic perspective that can prove incredibly valuable when you have to deal with life’s many difficulties. For many people, especially young people/teenagers, life is becoming extremely stressful and complex at a rapid rate. When we truly embrace our childishness, we have an opportunity to rediscover the simple life. We can ignore the parts of life that cause us worry, stress, and concern.

I do have to admit that when we get more responsibilities in life it becomes harder to have time to embrace our childish side. Responsibilities are given to us at an alarming rate as we get older. I feel like the moment a young person graduates from secondary school they are no longer seen as a young person, but rather as a grown adult who immediately needs to be mature and responsible. This means you lose out on those moments to embrace your childish side and to have fun.

Appreciating being young

However, I think you can do things on an individual level to help with this. Make the most out of every day you still have as a young person. Embrace every single second, every minute, every hour, and every day that you are still young and can embrace your childish side without the unfair societal pressures. As young people, we have our entire lives ahead of us to be mature and responsible, so we should enjoy the freedom of our youth while we still can. I believe that most people, including myself, have taken this time as a young person for granted. The pandemic has made me realise how important this time as a teenager really is.

Taking this time as a young person for granted is something I already regret and something I will never do again. I now hope that no-one will take this time for granted and that we will all learn to embrace our inner childishness more often.

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