10/25/2011 09:28 am ET | Updated Dec 25, 2011

Teens Are People Too

Lately I've realized that life is a lot like high school, and that adults are a lot like teenagers. For those of you who remember your own high school experience (or are still in the midst of it), you understand just how demotivating this information is. But the more of the "real world" -- why is high school considered "not real'"? It's not in an alternate dimension -- I experience through conversations with my parents, the more I see the similarities.

My mom still redoes the inept formatting of others while under a due date. My dad still does damage control when one of his peers says something stupid. People still form illogical opinions, get mad about stupid things, and blame whoever is the most convenient. Money and beauty still determine the status quo, artists still struggle to get by on a day job and the people in charge still don't make any sense. Family units are just glorified clicks, with all the drama that accompanies them, and you still yearn after the good old days when you didn't have so many responsibilities. No, the only true difference I can find is scale. After high school the stakes raise because you're the only one around and need to take care of yourself.

The question becomes, why do so many adults despise teenagers? Although there are many who do not (thank God), society as a whole has a rather uncomplimentary view of us. My uncle once said I "thought like a teenager." I was actually insulted. I am often condescended to, and was once flat-out insulted by a friend of my parents. I don't remember who it was. He made a comment about how you should "stay away from teenagers," all the while shaking his head in a way that showed just how irrational and exhausting he believed them to be. It wasn't meant to be personal, and I didn't realize until later that it was in fact insulting. But really, who makes a comment condemning a group in front of one of its members? He wouldn't have made a racist joke to a black person, or an anti-semitic comment to a jew. But who cares what a teenager thinks?

We have a reputation for being selfish, immature and irrational. It's not necessarily untrue. We do have less life experience, and there are things about our parents and this world that we do not yet understand. When we run into these things, we tend to condemn them as irrational, and get angry when they interfere with our desires. It's not that we are incapable of understanding, or that we don't care, it's that we haven't been able to puzzle them out on our own so they obviously don't make any sense, or exist just to spite us. But if there's one thing school has ever taught me, it's that these are human patterns of behavior, not just teenage ones. We just apply them to different things than adults because we're at a different stage in our development, and perceive the world in a different way.

The other reason I think adults dislike us is because our world is smaller. Our world-shattering problems of acne and grades seem insignificant to our parents, who have to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. But the world of the average American adult is also shrunken. They don't need to worry about people gunning us down on the street for being the wrong color, or about being put in jail for saying the wrong thing. Some people, in less stable countries, do. Wouldn't they feel a little spiteful towards us, who complain when we get a flat tire, when they have to walk 10 miles just to get water? People have a full range of emotions, and they apply this range to the world they live in. For teenagers, that world is high school.

So adults, don't condemn us. Next time you have trouble communicating with someone my age don't stomp off, or break out the classic "because I say so." Try and explain yourself calmly, and to initiate a conversation among equals instead of a lecture. If you don't attack or condescend, you might be surprised. And teenagers, get off your high horse and listen. If you don't get it, ask. If you meet your parents in the middle, you too may be surprised at what they're capable of understanding. Everyone just needs to take a deep breath, let the other party finish their sentence, and remember not to judge.