photo courtesy of Gabrielle Espinet
I am watching as extraordinary potential and individuality is slowly drained from my generation. The voices of the older generation’s sardonic influence has grown louder in our heads over time and, as a result, our youth has become accustomed to living with our heads facing the ground and to suppress any passion that grows inside of us. But, it’s time we encourage creativity and the right to self-determination within today's youth.
As a teen in modern society, I am one of the innumerable amount of kids who have personally witnessed the suppression of creativity and self-expression of our youth. Although there are a number of exceptions (the lucky ones) to this trend, there is no doubt that society has been forcing its hand upon countless of teens who are genuinely passionate about something. Have we still not learned anything from Footloose?
I am an aspiring filmmaker and writer. I want to educate communities on world issues through art. I want to change the world with a camera, not a textbook. These are some things I can proudly say I am immensely passionate about and things that inspire me everyday. However, I have been forced into a position of inferiority within my own life story. I struggle everyday to have a say in how I want to spend my free time or what I want to fill my notebooks with (art or math?).
Academics have always been a priority in my life, and it still is something that I continue to strive to improve upon. I value learning and education very deeply, but I think that our society has lost its balance between academics and creativity. Many teens are no longer encouraged to follow their passions, but to instead follow the path that ensures a more stable, secure life. It may seem appealing, but what then is the purpose of living your own life if you don't spend it recklessly chasing after what makes you happy? Genuine happiness is something that is too rare in the world we live in today.
Too many times have I heard the words:
"Your passions don't matter. Focus on what's important."
How completely wrecked has society become when passions have become insignificant in the lives of our youth? When did self-determination become a bad thing? Our generation has the power to change and influence the world, but the opportunity seems to be slipping away as those who deem themselves "superior" have taken it upon themselves to decide what's best for us. What's best for our youth? The best thing you can do for us is allow us the freedom to determine our own futures and encourage us every step of the way.
We are urged by other generations to make a change, but how can we do this if our voices are muffled and our passions are stifled? It’s time that our youth fights for our right to make a change and others to guide and support us along the way, because we need to start making impacts on the world that we will be leading one day. This is what is important. This is what we need to start focusing on.
About the Author:
Caitlyn Phu, currently a junior in high school, is a filmmaker, writer, and artist based in Huntington Beach. She is a member of the Academy of the Performing Arts’ MMET Media program, which specializes in filmmaking and live TV production, and the founder/president of the Heart2Art Project. Caitlyn plans to pursue a career in screenwriting and filmmaking after high school and aims to use her passion for the arts to both educate and make an impact on the world. Additionally, she is a writer for Free to Dream Magazine, a member of Model United Nations, and sometimes considered “pretty funny.” That last one depends on the crowd, though.
Instagram: @caityphu @theartofemotion